UM outcry sparks lobby effort Four legislators sponsoring bill to restore UM funding.

November 12, 1991|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Evening Sun Staff Glenn Small contributed to this story.

COLLEGE PARK -- Four Prince George's County legislators today announced their plans to prefile a bill for the 1992 General Assembly session that would restore more than $38 million in cuts to the 11 campuses of the University of Maryland System as well as Morgan State University and St. Mary's College.

Sen. Arthur Dorman and Dels. James C. Rosapepe, Timothy F. Maloney and Pauline H. Menes, all Democrats representing the College Park area, today announced their plans at a news conference at the University of Maryland's College Park campus.

"The proposal was enthusiastically received by the University of Maryland," said Roz Hiebert, a spokeswoman at College Park. "They encouraged people to rally behind this proposal."

The bill would reverse the cuts in higher education for fiscal year 1992, which ends next June 30, and fiscal year 1993. It would take $38,121,000 in corporate income tax revenues this year from the Transportation Trust Fund and return them to the General Fund for public higher education, including all 11 campuses of the University of Maryland System, Morgan State University and St. Mary's College. The $80 million going into the trust fund next year would be used for fiscal 1993, under the bill.

The four Prince George's County legislators were also to present their proposal in Annapolis this afternoon.

The lobbying effort comes one day after about 2,000 students, faculty and campus workers protested $40 million in budget cuts. U.S. 1, which is near the campus, was blocked for a time and 12 protesters were arrested.

"I've been here since 1975," Hiebert said. "I wasn't here for the Vietnam demonstrations, but I do remember the protests for Cambodia. This is by far the largest demonstration I've seen since then."

Chanting "No more cuts," the protesters gathered in the mall in front of the main administration building about noon. President William E. Kirwan was among the speakers.

An hour later, the protest had moved to the middle of U.S. 1 and students were sitting down in the middle of the road. And, within another couple of hours, 11 students and an instructor were charged with disorderly conduct for obstructing traffic. All 12 were released on their own recognizance, according to the Prince George's County District Court commissioner's office.

The protesters had planned to march from the campus mall, down Campus Drive to U.S. 1 and back to the mall, said Callan David, 21, a member of the Student Government Association, which was one of the sponsors of the protest.

But the plan quickly changed. Only about a third of the students marched back to the mall. The rest remained in the middle of U.S. 1 just off the campus.

Campus police cordoned off the road and rerouted traffic. But campus officials said that when students decided to block U.S. 1 they were no longer on campus property, but county property.

Students debated among themselves the pros and cons of sitting in the middle of the road. While organizers urged them to save their anger for a planned march on Annapolis on Thursday, others said their protest had more meaning if they stayed.

A university teaching assistant, who refused to give his name, urged students to join him in the sit-down.

"I've got a job on the line," said the teaching assistant. "They've got an education on the line. You want to take me away, then take me away."

As time passed, and temperatures continued to drop, students began to disperse. Still, more than 100 students remained milling about in the middle of the road. Students, police and college officials tried to persuade them to leave.

"I think what you're doing is great, but this is not the way to do it guys," Callan David said. "You're not going to help us in Annapolis."

J. Robert Dorfman, vice president for academic affairs, told the protesters they had made their point, but it was time to leave.

"What we need is to get this word to Annapolis, and we've done this," Dorfman said. "What you're doing now is hurting the university."

At 3 p.m., about 20 officers of the county Sheriff's Department joined the dozen campus police to break up the demonstration.

Armed with billy clubs, officers moved the crowd out of the road. The 12 who had refused to move got up peacefully as police

approached. They were handcuffed, searched and loaded into a patrol wagon.

Dev Pathik, 20, who earlier had asked the crowd to leave, was one of the 12 arrested.

"I saw what these people were willing to do for me, and I felt I had to join them," Pathik said. "It was the least I could do. At least I'll know that I stood up for something I believed in."

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