Students unite against fee hikes, layoffs
CSU faculty and students formed a rally Tuesday to give ‘shame’ to the CSU board of trustees
July 21, 2009
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Ainsley Sanchez wiped the sweat off her forehead and punched her fists in the air as she marched and chanted alongside students, faculty members and parents who showed up Tuesday to protest outside California State University Chancellor Charles Reed’s office.
Sanchez, a Cal State Long Beach student whose father is unemployed, joined other students and faculty from various CSU campuses across the state to protest the fee hike for the 2009-2010 academic year.
Beginning fall 2009, full-time undergraduate students will pay an extra $672 and graduate students an extra $828.
This did not sit well with Michael Coger, who graduated from CSULB last May and is planning to return for graduate school.
“It seems as though they’re doing the opposite thing of what they’re supposed to be doing,” Coger said. “Everything I make it’s going to go to grad school and books.”
Sanchez said that students are already paying high fees as it is. She’s also worried about the future generation of students who will be affected by the current decisions being made by the state Legislature.
With signs and fliers in hand, rally participants urged Reed to think about the consequences the fee hikes will have on students who are struggling to make ends meet.
Members of Students for Quality Education, the coalition of students behind the rally, passed out various fliers to inform the public about the demands they believe students deserve. The group also hosted a candlelight vigil two days before the board of trustees meeting and a die-in that morning.
Protestors chanted, “Shame on you!” after each of the board of trustees members were named.
Coger, who works at the university’s writer’s resource lab, said the rally is proof that students are not apathetic when it comes to creating a movement when decisions are being made for them.
“It is a testament of the crisis that is occurring in higher education,” said Peter Kreysa, California Faculty Association treasurer.
Kreysa spoke about the 1961 CSU Master Plan for Higher Education and its message to prepare “outstanding candidates for the job market.”
“I believe that our state Legislature has lost sight of what the master plan needs,” he said.
Already, many students have faced cancelled classes or full classes.
“I was going to take a Portuguese class that I need for my major and it got cancelled,” Spanish literature major Nancy Villalon said.
Included in the list of demands from the SQE were an education- and student-first policy and a freeze on fees and layoffs.
According to the SQE, the CSU’s board of trustees and executives need to make sure that professors are not getting cheated on their paycheck.
Though Reed did not come out and speak directly to the students, CSU spokesperson Paul Browning was there to answer questions for the media.
“It’s always a difficult decision to raise students’ fees,” Browning said. “All employees, from the chancellor down, will be taking two days off without pay beginning Aug. 1.”
Browning also said that on top of the employee furloughs, enrollment will be closed to new students beginning spring 2010.
“It’s easy not to think about it when you’re pulling $400,000 a year,” said Tracie Gardner, CFA co-vice president for the Cal State Northridge chapter. “I’m concerned what this means for the state of California in the long-term without educated students.”
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