Faculty, students lobby lawmakers to increase critical funding for the CSU, support CFA-sponsored bills

Increasing state funding for the California State University and supporting key legislation were central to discussions between faculty, students, and legislators Tuesday during CFA’s Lobby Day.

The two-day event drew CFA and Students for Quality Education (SQE) members from throughout the state, who lobbied Assemblymembers and Senators about bills that would improve mental health counseling on campuses (SB 968), establish routine audits of the CSU budget (AB 2505), and improve transparency related to police investigations (SB 1421).

The faculty-and-student teams also discussed the need to increase state support for the CSU.

CFA is calling for $422.6 million in additional funding for the CSU budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year, which could increase access to the CSU for thousands of qualified students and help ensure there are courses and faculty to meet growing demands to public higher education. Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget only increases the CSU budget by $92.1 million.

“The reception overall has been positive and optimistic,” said José Cintrón, a Professor in the Bilingual/Multicultural Education Department at Sacramento State. “There is momentum and support for our bills and increasing the CSU’s budget.”

Elaine Newman, CFA Chapter President at Sonoma State, said lawmakers also were very receptive to students and their stories.

“There is a great deal of concern for our students,” Newman said.

In a meeting with Assemblymember Jose Medina, Chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, Sacramento State student Martha Ancajas talked candidly about balancing a 60-hour work week and going to school.

“Most CSU students work two jobs, and even three jobs, and go to school. Mine is only one narrative,” Ancajas said. “This funding would be huge in increasing affordability and access to the CSU for so many students.”

Last year, more than 31,000 qualified students were denied admission to the CSU due to lack of funding, a trend that has been on the rise for years. State disinvestment has plagued the CSU for decades, at the same time that the CSU’s student population has grown increasingly more diverse. As CFA’s Associate Vice President for Affirmative Action Cecil Canton has pointed out, “As the CSU has grown darker, funding has grown lighter.”

That trend must end.

“Our state must end the long, slow process of starving public higher education,” said CFA President Jennifer Eagan. “Wonderful, qualified potential students—who will go on to contribute to and lead our state—are not getting the chance that was promised them, and that their families are paying for with their taxes. This is the year for change.” 

The event also honored Assemblymember Ash Kalra and Senator Nancy Skinner for their commitment to higher education and labor.

Kalra, a former San Jose State faculty, authored AB 21, CFA-sponsored legislation that helps protect undocumented members of the CSU campus community.

“It’s been a joy to work with you, to protect people doing everything asked of them, seeking the American Dream,” Kalra told faculty and students.

Skinner is authoring SB 1421, which would increase transparency surrounding police investigations and the public’s right to know discipline in cases related to “deadly and serious use of force.” CFA is co-sponsoring the bill.

Skinner said CFA’s support has made “all the difference” in opening doors to further support from other labor organizations.

“We have to have these records to shine light on troubling cases,” Skinner said.

To learn more about CFA’s bill and budget priorities, click here.

CFA also is encouraging CSU faculty, students, staff, and allies to email Gov. Brown and urge him to reinvest in the CSU. Click here to send a message to Gov. Brown and your legislators.