PHILADELPHIA -- As hundreds of Temple University students changed classes Monday, more than 20 Penn State and Temple student leaders united in protest against Gov. Ed Rendell's financial aid proposals.
"Hey Ed, where's our aid?" the leaders chanted, holding signs and collecting student signatures to strengthen their ongoing campaign against the governor's budget proposals.
The growing grassroots efforts focus on the governor's exclusion of the state's four state-related institutions -- including Penn State and Temple -- from the proposed Pennsylvania Tuition Relief Act.
Through revenue from the legalization of video poker, the proposed act would provide up to $7,600 a year in financial aid to students whose families earn up to $100,000 annually. Penn State officials have said about 31,000 Penn State students would qualify for the aid.
University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) President Gavin Keirans spoke through a megaphone in front of the Temple Bell Tower, with a crowd of Penn State and Temple student government leaders behind him.
"While we should all applaud the effort by the governor to address this need," Keirans (junior-business management) said of the college tuition assistance, "there is no reason to cut out the four state-related schools."
The journey to Temple marks the first time Penn State student leaders have extended their grassroots effort beyond the Penn State community. Keirans said he's looking to work with the University of Pittsburgh and Lincoln University -- the other two state-related schools -- in the future.
The state-related institutions are the keystones of Pennsylvania and have significant economic impacts on the state, Temple Student Government President Nadine Mompremier told the crowd.
Mompremier, a senior majoring in business law, called the exclusion from the act an "outrage" and a "crisis."
"We're here to tell the city and we're here to tell the governor that we count, too," Mompremier said. "We don't want to be prisoners of debt."
Keirans called upon Rendell not to "shut his door on Penn State, Temple or any of the other state-related schools."
Keirans said he grew up reading about the then-Philadelphia Mayor Rendell and hoped to one day emulate his successes in making a difference in Philadelphia.
"I stand here today hoping to make that difference and ask the now-governor to think of those with the academic strength to get into Penn State or Temple but not the wallet size," he said.
Representatives from the Interfraternity Council and Penn State's chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also represented Penn State at the rally.
Penn State students held a similar rally earlier this month outside of Old Main, met twice with local lawmakers and invited Rendell to speak at Penn State about his proposals. They also plan to hold two more rallies later this month.
Mompremier said the plan was "almost like segregating the schools," because lower-income students wouldn't be able to attend state-related institutions because of higher tuition costs.
"It is further disappointing to see prospective students being segregated to certain universities based on their income," Keirans told the crowd.