ANNAPOLIS – Terrapin Pride Day Tuesday in Annapolis could not have come at a better time for the University of Maryland.
It’s the annual event when students, alumni and supporters of the school rally in Annapolis to promote the importance of the university and display their support for legislation benefiting higher education.
This year, the ninth annual event, comes after the men’s basketball team defeated rival Duke Saturday in a nationally televised game.
Although the women’s team lost to Duke on Sunday, the Lady Terps shattered the record for the biggest crowd at an ACC women’s basketball game with 17,243 attendees. The old record was 14,500 set in 1992, also held by the University of Maryland.
“Definitely peoples’ spirits are elevated with the success in athletics,” said University of Maryland, College Park President C.D. Mote at the rally.
But, sports were not the only thing on Terps’ minds at the rally. Supporters were concerned about the rising tuition costs.
“I’m not here for athletics,” said Debbie Yow, Maryland director of athletics. “I had to pay for my own education. That’s a very tough situation.”
“It’s great that we beat Duke,” said College Park junior Nicole Foster. “But the reason we’re here is to support higher education.”
Jennifer Preads, a sophomore pre-nursing major, said she has a friend who did not return to school this year because tuition was too high.
Budget cuts forced tuition costs up an average of 30 percent over the last two years.
This year, Gov. Robert Ehrlich added $43 million to the proposed University of Maryland System budget.
The boost came after Ehrlich vetoed a bill to cap tuition at 5 percent for the next three years, paid for by a corporate tax increase. The bill was reintroduced this session.
That bill, said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert, brought more attention to the higher cost of tuition and led to Ehrlich increasing the higher education budget. Miller said he supports making education, “not only affordable, but the best.”
Ehrlich told the rallying Terps that now is their “glory era,” a time of athletic and academic success.
The governor skipped attending the men’s Duke game — to avoid distractions in actually watching the contest — but made the women’s event.
“It’s great to be governor during this time,” Ehrlich said.
Billy McCabe, a sophomore finance major, said that national attention from the Duke game refocuses attention on the university.
“It doesn’t let us slip under the radar.”
Aaron Kraus, student government president, agreed.
“On Saturday nights,” Kraus said, “the capital of the state is not Annapolis — it’s College Park.”