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Clemson students join nationwide walkout over GOP tax plan

Clemson University graduate students and their supporters joined thousands of students across the country in taking a stand against the proposed tax reform bill.


Around 200 students marched​ from ​Library Bridge​ to Sikes Hall, where several ​Clemson ​community members​ ​then addressed the crowd. ​

Students said they’re concerned that graduate education may no longer be affordable if the tax plan passes.


“These proposed changes would result in huge tax increases for students,” Michael Carlo, a fifth-year doctoral student studying thermal ecology, said. “These changes mean most of those students would have no choice but to drop out of school before finishing their degrees … it will drastically affect generations of students to come.”  


As it stands now, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would count graduate tuition waivers as taxable income. Tuition waivers are generally granted to students who teach or conduct research at universities.


“This bill represents a real threat to education and innovation,” Carlo said. “This is a political issue, but this should not be a divisive issue.”
Carlos and another Clemson graduate student, Kylie Smith, organized the rally. They said they had been offered support from numerous faculty and staff members, as well as from a few members of the university’s administration.

Clemson has more than 4,500 graduate students and offers over 100 graduate degrees, according to the university’s website.


Jason Osborne, the dean of Clemson’s graduate school, told the crowd that the university has been in contact with lawmakers about the bill. He encouraged students to contact their representatives by emailing, calling and writing them.


“People like me saying saying ‘This is damaging’ is one thing. Students saying it is another thing,” Osborne said. “I think it’s much more important for you all to speak to these people — I think they’re always interested in hearing from students.”


The U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the bill on Nov. 17. The Senate version of the bill is expected to be voted on later this week.


U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released this statement on Wednesday on his vote in support of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.


“This plan is good for working people across South Carolina. Whether it’s the store owner on Main Street, the farmer working their fields, or the assembly-line worker on the factory floor; South Carolinians are working harder than ever. They deserve to keep more of their hard-earned money. I intend to roll up my sleeves and get these tax cuts passed, which will help strengthen the economy of South Carolina both today and for years to come.”


Rallies against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act were held at more than 50 colleges across the country on Wednesday, including at Georgia Tech, Duke University and the University of Utah.

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