CFA, students join Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva in call to stop student tuition & fee hikes

CSU students and faculty joined Assembly woman Sharon Quirk-Silva to announce AB 393: The Student Protection Act, legislation to put a freeze on tuition and fee increases in community colleges and the CSU.

Quirk-Silva authored AB 393 in light of the hard realities facing today’s college students.

Too many students have to make difficult choices by going deeper in debt and/or taking on increasing hours of work in order to live and pay their education costs, choices that interfere with their studies.

“California needs one million more college graduates to fill the workforce gap. Yet, we are not even close to funding public higher education at levels needed to accomplish that goal,” Quirk-Silva told a news conference at CSU Sacramento on Tuesday.

AB 393 would require that the tuition and mandatory system-wide fees charged to students of the California State University, and the enrollment fee charged to students of the California Community Colleges, not be increased from the amounts charged on December 31, 2016.

The freeze under AB 393 would last until the completion of the 2019–20 academic year. The bill also urges the Regents of the University of California to adopt policies that are consistent with this provision.

CSU Sacramento CFA Chapter President Kevin Wehr (Sociology) said, “The California Faculty Association is sponsoring the Student Protection Act because as faculty we see first-hand the impact financial stress has on our student’s ability to prepare for class, to buy the books, and have time to study—not to mention their health and well-being.”

Wehr, who also is CFA Associate Vice President-North, said every fee increase means students have to work longer hours. “I’ve even had students who have left school entirely because of tuition increases that were not offset by any financial aid. This cannot continue,” he said.

Isaiah de la Cruz, a sophomore in business and philosophy at CSU East Bay, told his story: “I am working three jobs and taking 16-17 units a quarter. The Board of Trustees is considering a tuition increase of $270, which is a quarter of my paycheck.

He related, “$270 may not sound like much to a Trustee with a six-figure salary, but to us CSU students $270 means a lot more than you could imagine and we simply cannot afford it. It’s time we stop putting the burden on students and I am grateful that Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva and the CSU faculty are standing up for us.”

CSU Sac CFA Chapter Vice President Margarita Berta-Ávila (Education) added, “They are working multiple jobs and dealing with more stress than they should be, yet their fees continue to rise. We are asking students to pay more for less.

“What is interesting to me,” she said, in reference to findings in the CFA report Equity Interrupted, “is that the disinvestment has occurred as demographics have shifted to a far more diverse student body than 30 years ago. This bill is a necessary step in solving the crisis of this generation of students as well future generations to come.”