Students from Maryland universities protested in Baltimore and Washington yesterday against cuts in student financial aid and public health programs proposed by congressional Republicans.
Other campuses across the nation are also protesting against financial aid cuts and more generally against the Republican "Contract with America."
In Baltimore, nearly 100 graduate students and staffers demonstrated for an hour on the steps of the main building at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health yesterday, waving banners, chanting slogans and wearing paper masks with the face of U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Protesters described cuts in disease prevention and research programs as heartless.
Student organizers also criticized the proposed elimination of the subsidy allowing students to defer interest on federally guaranteed loans while they are in school. Education advocacy groups said the move would add thousands of dollars to each student's debt burden.
At about the same time, student government leaders from the University of Maryland College Park campus attended a rally on Capitol Hill with several hundred students from area campuses and lobbied federal officials to restore funding for student aid.
Speakers at the Hopkins rally targeted other planks of GOP agenda for criticism, including efforts to ease federal regulations and to limit funds for preventive medical programs. "What we really need is leadership, not focus groups in making up our policy," Kate Handley, a Hopkins health policy doctoral student, said.