Less than a week after university system leaders criticized them for being apathetic in the face of sharp budget cuts, Nevada's college and university students began a push against the proposed cutbacks.
At Nevada State College on Wednesday, student leaders collected 65 signatures on petitions in just the first 30 minutes of a midday rally.
"We will lose teachers, we will lose programming," NSC Student Body President Ryan Crowell told more than 50 students at the rally. "We'll lose the college atmosphere here."
Student leaders at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas plan to conduct a similar petition drive at a noon rally today that will feature several speakers, including state Sen. Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, and Faculty Senate President Bryan Spangelo.
The petition that students signed Wednesday at the college, which were addressed to Gov. Jim Gibbons, pleaded with the governor to "consider our interests" before he makes a formal decision to cut the university system budget.
Gibbons has asked the university system to come up with a plan to cut its budget by 8 percent because of expected state revenue shortfalls. University system Chancellor Jim Rogers has refused to do so.
The student petition also asks for "multiple open forums throughout the state" for students to voice opinions on the proposed cuts.
During a Board of Regents meeting Friday, Rogers and several regents expressed dismay over the silence of students about the possible cuts, which they said would result in larger class sizes, fewer available classes and construction project delays.
Crowell said the comments during the meeting had helped spur him and the student body presidents of the state's six other colleges to take action.
NSC, the state's newest and smallest college, could be one of those hardest hit by the potential cuts.
The fledgling school has a meager budget compared to its counterparts and owns no buildings. Most of its classes are being taught in an old vitamin factory on Nevada State Drive or in leased office space in downtown Henderson.
Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at firstname.lastname@example.org or (702) 383-0440.