Nearly 300 supporters of Southern University packed the State Capitol steps on Wednesday, rallying for their school and hoping to send a message to Louisiana legislators.

Jevante Myers, a sophomore from Opelousas, said he came out to the “We Are Southern” rally because he’s worried that with the threat of budget cuts, the university could be “shut down.”

“The university has been a tradition in my family,” he said. “It really means something.”

The Human Jukebox pep band, just back from a recent competition, rang out across the Capitol and could even be heard inside the building.

Several legislators spoke to the crowd, as did Southern University leaders.

“It is absolutely important that we maintain Southern University in our state,” said state Sen. Sharon Broome, D-Baton Rouge.

The state Legislature faces a $1.6 billion funding shortfall as it attempts to piece together a spending plan for the budget that begins July 1. That could mean deep cuts to higher education.

Last week, about 150 students representing each of the state’s four systems of higher education rallied against the threat of cuts to colleges and universities.

“I think there’s a lot of people who want to find answers, but they just haven’t found the solution yet,” Southern University System President Ronald Mason said.

Many of the attendees said they are worried that Southern University would not be able to provide current services or improve without stable funding.

“It would be a shame if they were to cut it so much that they would have to cut back classes,” said rally attendee G. Jones, of Baton Rouge. “Southern University has done a lot for the community.”

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