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Friday, November 20, 2009

More online activism from students

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2009 at 8:37 AM

As first noted here last week, when students heard about Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's tuition tax, they took to the Tweets rather than the streets. A few more Web sites have gone up since then, and these are more focused on political action than on bitching on someone's Facebook wall.

CMU students have assembled a "Stop the Tuition Tax" Web site, complete with city council phone numbers, sample letters, and an online petition. 

Over at the University of Pittsburgh, meanwhile, grad students -- who've been often overlooked in the debate so far -- have launched an online petition opposing the tax.

And if you're browsing the internet anyway, check out this story about how the higher-ed community is watching Pittsburgh grapple with the tuition tax. One takeaway here is that whatever you want to say about Ravenstahl's proposal, the city is on the cutting edge of something:

Other cities are trying to find some way of generating tax revenue from the thousands of students who study there each year. Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino launched a task force in January to standardize and increase voluntary payments coming from the city’s colleges and universities, as well as its hospitals. David N. Cicilline, mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, this spring proposed a $150 per semester tax on students at the city’s four private colleges.

The Association of American Universities (AAU) first warned its 62 member institutions of the coming wave of municipalities looking to tax higher education about 18 months ago, said M. Matthew Owens, an associate vice president for federal relations.

As for the student activism ... there will be a special council meeting about the tax at 1:30 p.m. today. It'll be interesting to see how many students log off and show up for it. 

While I'm on the subject ... how come nobody gets this worked up when their colleges jack up tuition by 6 or 7 percent a year? 

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