CSU Board of Trustees debate tuition hike, Students for Quality Education protest
The first debate over what could be a lasting tuition increase begins.
January 31, 2017
Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.
Email This Story
The California State University Board of Trustees weighed a major proposal to increase tuition by 5 percent systemwide at their first meeting of the year yesterday. At the same time, a small but dedicated group of student protestors came to petition against the proposition in the meeting.
From information provided by the board, the proposed increase would come out to an additional $270 a year for undergraduates, $312 a year for credentialed students and another $438 a year for graduate students. A major reason given for the necessity by board members was a looming potential fiscal shortfall should tuition not be guaranteed, partly due to the fact that Governor Jerry Brown only allocated $157.2 million in new funding for the CSU system in the January budget, which was 48 percent less than the requested $346 million.
Prior to the meeting, members of Students for Quality Education joined Associated Students, Inc. representatives from different CSU campuses, including Cal State Long Beach. The goal was to “create a big enough voice to make board members aware of how students feel about what decisions they’re making,” according to Michelle Aranda, an SQE member at CSU Northridge.
Protestors and members of SQE congregated outside the Chancellor’s Office as the board discussed a series of early morning closed session meetings about honorary degrees, pending litigation and executive personnel matters.
This was followed by public comments from members of the California State University Employee’s Union and Service Employees International Union over the initiation of a new collective bargaining agreement between the unions and CSU system. Then, the real topic of the day began in earnest: the board’s Committee on Finance and its proposed tuition increase.
After introducing the items on the agenda, board member Peter Taylor opened the floor up for public comment. In response, members of SQE and their supporters, most in matching burgundy shirts, walked up to the podium one at a time to deliver their message against the preliminary proposal.
“To us it’s not just a measly $270 increase,” said Elizabeth Cabral, a student from CSU Dominguez Hills who led the SQE attendees. “We see a door opened to a continuous cycle of systematic student exploitation to fill student budgets that you say are meant for students. But how many of you have personally walked on our campuses, and personally surveyed my peers and I on our campuses? Can you think of a time?”
The dialogue coming from the protesting students varied as much as the individuals who came up to the podium. One student tried an earnest plea of financial mercy, saying, “Be better than those that sat in this room before you.” Another declared that the board had ”no idea what it’s like to work for your education.” There was a smattering of occasional chanting “The more we pay! The longer we stay!”
Board members brought up the fact that even with a 5 percent increase, the CSU’s tuition costs would be less than national average. They also highlighted the website www.calstate.edu/tuition-increase where students and parents can give feedback to the proposal.
The board talked around the issue of a potential defunding of the State of California due to the escalating tensions between the state and federal authorities over immigration enforcement. In such a case, Steve Relyea, the CSU’s chief financial officer said, “we’re going to have to make some choices . . .”
CSU Los Angeles ASI president Kayla Stamps and vice president Marcos Montes had their own thoughts on what happened regarding the possible increase proposed by the board members.
“It’s extremely important that we are able to come together and show that we care about what is going on on our campuses,” Stamps said. “There’s a reason why we have student governments and organizations. Students need to be represented.”
Montes, a senior political science and international studies student, said that it’s critical to have all students be represented because CSU campuses are so diverse.
“What the board doesn’t understand is that we are students that have obligations; not only to ourselves but to others,” Montes said.
The pressure to let students know about the boards plan was high, since CSU campuses have only been in school for about a week, Montes said. Nevertheless, he and his team made it vital to make sure they would be listened to this morning.
The board will make their final vote on March 21-22 at the Chancellor’s Office in downtown Long Beach.
“Ultimately, what we wanted to achieve today was to let the board know that we won’t stand aside while they make decisions for us that will only affect every current student and students to come,” said Dulce Lopez, an SQE member at CSU Dominguez Hills, who spoke in front of the board along with others.
Student protesters exited the meeting room just before the end of the meeting chanting, “we’ll be back.”