West Virginia University’s Students for Higher Education has launched a new Web site ( www.wvstudentvoice.com ) where students can learnor express their opinionsabout the issue of budget cuts in higher education.

One of the features of the Web site is an online petition which, in part, states:”We, the undersigned, as voters and concerned citizens of the State of West Virginia, are greatly troubled by the impact of proposed state-level cutbacks in funding for higher education. These cutbacks will be detrimental to the system of higher education in West Virginia.”

By signing the petition, students can send a powerful message to state lawmakers, said Charlie Battleson, student body president.

“The goal is to create a unified and powerful voice among students in West Virginia.We want to establish higher education as a priority. If we don’t protect our schools, our degrees will be devalued when we go out and look for jobs,”he said.

During a November Student Government Association Board of Governors meeting, Battleson and SGA Vice President Jordan Workman explained how a budget cut could impact students.

“There are currently 81,000 collegiates in public colleges or universities in the state of West Virginia,”said Workman.”This is a significantly high number, and most importantly, all of these are of voting age. With the support of college students, considerable changes could be made and great strides could take place when it comes to finding a solution to the budget cuts.”

The student leaders also pointed out that cuts could result in the loss of WVU professors and an increase in tuition, especially for out-of-state students.

“One of he main reasons I came here was because I could get an education at an affordable price,”said Battleson, who is from Buffalo, N.Y.

Workman added,”Every one of use has that one professor we look up to. What if our favorite class were taught by a graduate student because the University couldn’t afford to give professors raises to keep them here? Also, some services we hold dear to our hearts like the Learning Centers, RFLs (Resident Faculty Leaders) program that enhances the freshman experience and incredible recruiting tools like FallFest and WVUp All Night that give an alternative to drinking could potentially be cut as a result of the budget cuts.”

Battleson encouraged students and the public to get involved and write to state lawmakers.

“The more people involved, the bigger impact they will have,”he said.”We want to make sure all students are going to get the quality education they deserve. Students for Higher Education needs the support of the entire West Virginia University community, as well as involvement from other collegiate students across the state.”