Tony Thurmond, candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, called on students to come forth with ideas on making post-secondary education more affordable during a town hall meeting at University of California, San Diego Oct. 4.
During the meeting, student leaders from various universities addressed the concerns of their student populations, and called for a comprehensive and holistic review of what campuses could do to ease the burdens of college students. Thurmond has been hosting various education town halls across California on his campaign trail.
“[Tony’s] entire career, he has worked directly with youth and has really valued their perspective of students and really empowers students to take their education and their civic duty in their own hands.” said Madeline Franklin, campaign manager for Thurmond’s campaign.
Thurmond, who will serve on the California State University Board of Trustees if elected, plans to introduce a bill to the State Legislature in January written by college students that focuses on the issues of tuition hikes, homelessness, food insecurity and mental health.
“As a student, it is it really hard for us to earn and then spend money, and living in Southern California itself is expensive.” said Dhara Patel, a second year graduate student in computer science. “All the money that we earn goes into living expenses.”
On average, a CSU student will have $15,531 of debt by the time they graduate with a bachelor’s degree. State investment in higher public education has been decreasing since 1977, which began the tuition hikes. The 2008 recession lowered higher education investment as well.
On top of that, a January study of student basic needs in the CSU system said that 41.6 percent of students reported food insecurity and 10.9 percent experienced homelessness one or more times between January 2017 and January 2018. According to the study, food insecurity and homelessness had adverse effects on students’ grades and mental health.
Because of this, Thurmond is calling on students to assist him in making legislation that would solve these problems.
K Guan, a fourth year studio art major, started off in community college with a Board of Governors waiver that covered his GE courses. While he does not feel college is expensive for him, he still has concerns.
“College tuition is not as high as finding housing within this area, and that is just the biggest concern I have at the moment,” Guan said. “It’s not like I can just roll over into a new place real easily.”
According to Franklin, Thurmond plans to hold more round tables like the town hall in order to listen to students and advocate for them in government.
“Tony sees his role to be advocating for more funding for higher education, and using his relationships from his experience in Sacramento to do that,” Franklin said.