About 35 University of Alaska students arrived in Juneau from campuses statewide this week with a message for Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the Legislature: Don’t short-change the university system.

In response to Dunleavy’s budget, which would cut $134 million from the UA system, the Coalition of Student Leaders arrived Saturday for a four-day meeting to discuss university issues and legislative priorities. Monday and Tuesday will be spent meeting with state lawmakers.

At noon Monday, students held a rally on the Capitol steps.

They held signs reading "Education is our Future," "Don’t mess with my Future," "Fund our Future" and "Alaska Stands Tall with UA."

Several students also took turns addressing the crowd.

“At the end of the day, a well-educated, well-informed and active populous is what we need, and that’s what I know we can have," University of Alaska Southeast student Trystin Luhr told the crowd. "I implore our great leaders to do all that they can to say no to the current budget, to fund the universities, to fund our communities and make our future possible.”

Nick Bursell, president of the UAS student body, said the university has too frequently become a target during the Legislature’s annual efforts to solve a budget gap driven by chronically low oil prices.

“With the tremendous budget cut that's been proposed, students are incredibly concerned about their education,” he said. “They're concerned about their program being cut and they're concerned about the potential for a tuition increase.”

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