Over 30 students and faculty congregated around the doors of the California State University Chancellor’s Office in Long Beach Tuesday morning.
As the crowd waited for the Board of Trustees meeting to begin, they stood in solidarity against the latest tuition hike.
While it will be another two months of deliberation before the board officially votes on the proposed $288 increase, members of the California Faculty Association and Students for Quality Education were present not only to protest the increase but to offer a proposition to the trustees during the public comments section of the meeting — to ask California legislatures to increase funding.
“We’re here to express our concerns and to ask for them is to join us April 4,” said Courtney Yamagiwa, an organizer for the student group and Cal State Long Beach senior double majoring in consumer affairs and German studies. The group has organized an action in Sacramento to ask members of the legislature to give more funding in state universities.
According to Elizabeth Chapin, manager of public affairs for the Office of the Chancellor, the trustees requested an additional $263 million in state funding for the 2018-19 school year. Since Governor Jerry Brown only approved $92.1 million, there was a $171 million shortfall. The final state budget will be released in June.
“A tuition increase or campus budget cuts are among the difficult choices trustees may have to make only if the CSU’s 2018-19 budget isn’t fully funded,” Chapin said in an email. “That’s why budget advocacy efforts from various CSU stakeholders are a priority.”
Brittany Goss, a senior studying English at Cal State Fullerton, said she has concerns about completing her credential program next year, as her demanding program advises students not to work.
Yamagiwa gestured to a yellow cardboard-constructed school bus with members of the trustees faces glued to the sides.
“That’s why we have our lovely bus over there with all of the trustees lovely faces,” Yamagiwa said. “We’re inviting them to join us…to show the state that everyone in the CSU wants the same thing — more funding.”
The back of the makeshift bus was inscribed with black marker; “Next stop: Sacramento, April 4, Fund the Dream, Free the CSU.”
Members of the organization had large price tags pinned to their backs bearing the various dollar amounts that each student was indebted to their university for.
“It’s just creating this fear about whether I’m going to be able to afford college,” Goss said. “[Tuition increases] have taken a lot from me and my college experience.”
The english major lives on her own and supports herself entirely while working several jobs and helping pay her mother’s’ bills.
Other students involved shared similar fears that the rising cost of tuition would prolong or inhibit their ability to finish school.
“I’ve had to take a fifth year [because of] tuition hikes,” said Marisa Mendoza, a Students for Quality Education organizer and senior at San Diego State University. “The less funding there is, the less seats there are for classes. And if you have a shitty registration date, you have a shitty registration date; you won’t be able to take that class until it’s offered again.”
Faculty members also joined the ranks Tuesday morning to support the cause and stand with their students.
“I really appreciate that the [faculty association] and [Students for Quality Education] are putting a lot of pressure on the state legislature to better fund education,” said Trevor Griffey Cal State University Dominguez Hills history professor. “They’re not just coming here and saying don’t increase tuition… they’re also going to the state legislature and saying ‘we need to better fund the system.’”
Students and California Faculty Association members filed into the meeting room around 10 a.m. with signs in hand to face the trustees.
“You should be advocating for more state funding for a sustainable way for the state to fund it, not the students,” Yamagiwa said to the trustees. She urged that the system should look for alternative ways to find funding and referenced a ballot initiative that Cal State Long Beach President Jane Close Conoley suggested, “College for All” act, which would establish state tax to fund higher education.
Jennifer Eagan, president of the faculty association encouraged trustees to stand with students and faculty April 4 in Sacramento.
“We must get more money into the CSU system,” Eagan said. “We know what it looks like when we have a disastrous budget. It hurts our students. And it is simply unacceptable. We are not having it.”
Gregory Chris Brown, associate professor of criminal justice at Cal State Fullerton, brought up a $7 billion surplus that the state currently has.
“If not now, then when is the right time for the people in this room, the people who California calls trustees and presidents, to go out and fight for our students?” Brown said. “And remember they are your students too. If you really take your responsibility seriously, you’ll take that to heart.”
This story will be updated.