This story has been updated Oct. 11.
Student organization Rise is off and running after a second reading of the campaign for free tuition was passed 13-0-9 at the Associated Students Inc. Senate meeting Wednesday.
Yet with nine abstentions, senators aren’t completely convinced on adopting the movement at Cal State Long Beach.
Rise Inc. is a non-profit student organization at the university striving to provide students with a tuition-free education. The team’s campaign slogan is “moving forward together,” which emphasizes working to eliminate college tuitions, protect students from debt and invest in public colleges and universities.
“I’m a little anxious and worried right now,” Senator-at-large Danielle Carancho said at the meeting. “My move for next week is to talk with my co-senators and see where they’re at and why they abstained.”
Next Wednesday the third reading of Rise will go to the ASI senate for votes. This reading is going to be the most important, according to Carancho.
Tuition hikes are becoming more frequent as university budgets get smaller. There is a growing number of students voicing their upsets of college education becoming unaffordable for some, and the voices of these students are communicated through the Rise campaign. The movement is established in universities across California.
Senators from ASI met with Max Lubin, CEO of Rise, in April of last year to consider the educational campaign for the fall semester.
“At Rise, we create platforms for students to tell their stories, organize their campuses, and elect candidates for office who are committed to restoring free college tuition in California,” Lubin said. “We are empowering the next generation of student leaders at CSU Long Beach and campuses across California to not only be effective advocates, but also promote civic engagement, so that lawmakers know they will be held accountable when they force tuition and fee hikes on our campuses.”
After a tuition increase in March 2016, Senators Courtney Yamagiwa, Hilda Jurado and Senator-at-large Carancho, decided to adopt the movement on campus. According to Yamagiwa, it began with spreading awareness.
“I went to [Cal State Student Association] meetings, went to college campuses to sign petitions about Rise and I was also helping with a lot of grassroots organizing,” Yamagiwa said.
According to the Public Policy Institute of California, higher education spending accounted for 18 percent of the state budget in 1976-77. As of last year, that funding has fallen to 12 percent of the budget. With less money for universities, tuition costs have been a way for these institutions to replace the loss.
“The main focus with getting the campaign up and running is figuring out who will be paying for education,” Carancho said.
Lubin focused on three ideas to create revenue: prison industrial reform, cigarette tax and taxing the one percent of large corporations and individuals. Currently, Lubin and the team are working on a sustainable funding model.
“Often, the trustees and regents shoulder the blame for tuition hikes, but this is a question about our state’s budget,” Lubin said. “If we don’t have leaders in Sacramento who are committed to investing in public higher education, we will never break the cycle of shifting the cost of higher education to students through tuition increases.”
The campaign also focuses on educating students about politics in their community. Specifically, the organization is focused on the upcoming election for California’s governor.
“We’re calling on people who are running to have a plan and make higher education one of their top priorities,” Yamagiwa said.
The organization plans to inspire a student movement according to Yamagiwa.
“A big part of it is for students to know who they’re voting for or just getting more involved when it comes to political campaigns,” Jurado said. “Simply because you can vote for someone who isn’t in support of higher education, or you can vote for someone who is.”
The campaign had its first resolution reading at ASI’s senate meeting Sept. 27. The university plans to educate students about the program, help with voter registration, create educational campaigns and possibly host an event next semester to educate students about accessible education.
“As soon as we get this approved through the senate we can start preparing for everything else,” Carancho said.
Rise is still in its early stages, and spreading awareness to students on campus has been a main focus. In March of last year, California State University Board of Trustees voted 11-8 for a $270 annual tuition increase. Carancho said this was the meeting that sparked her to engage.
“That’s the whole reason why we joined, because we lost that battle last semester with the tuition increase,” Carancho said. “But we weren’t giving up on it, this is something that we felt strongly about, so this is when we switched to Rise.”
San Diego State, UC Berkeley and the city of San Francisco are already on board with the fight for free tuition.
“[Rise] was an open door, just when you think all hope is lost, something found its way,” Carancho said.
The organization is going to continue readings of its resolution at the ASI senate meetings until the resolution passes. Until then the team is encouraging students to educate themselves about the upcoming governor elections and get involved. Students can volunteer and donate to the organization on its website.
“For decades, cuts to higher education funding have hurt California students,” Lubin said. “There have been amazing advocacy efforts by the student associations, and on specific campuses, but we need to be fighting this fight together. That’s why we created Rise California.”