Organizing for April 4: Sacramento students hold teach-in with campus president

Students at CSU Sacramento called on campus President Robert Nelson this week to show his support for students who will rally for the CSU at the State Capitol on April 4.

At a teach-in against a possible tuition hike organized by Students for Quality Education and attended by Nelson, students told personal stories about long work hours, mounting debt, and the challenges to their college dreams.

The crowd gasped when a student named Claudia revealed she works four different jobs to pay her bills during the regular school year and to save to pay tuition during summer and intersession, for which there is no financial aid.

“The way to do this,” Claudia said, “is your parents are rich and they pay for your school.” Yet she hangs in, because, she said, “Education is the only thing that is going to make you prosper.”

When a student asked the crowd how many work more than six hours a day, at least half the room raised their hands. He himself does, often a night shift, and he said to complete his studies and class assignments, he sometimes sleeps only two or three hours a night.

Another student said “My best friend fell through the cracks.” His friend was homeless the first six months at CSU Sacramento, eventually giving up and dropping out. “This is a story that sticks with me, and that’s why I’ve come out for more CSU funding,” he explained.

SQE member Jorge Quintana, who emceed the teach-in, says, “This gave Sac State students a platform to share experiences and frustrations over the proposed tuition increase face to face with the president of our university.”

Capitol CFA Chapter President Margarita Berta-Ávila, who was at the teach-in, says, “It was a clear reminder about the hardships our students go through and the sacrifices they make to complete their goal and obtain a degree.”

Although Nelson was not ready to take particular steps regarding the rally on April 4, he indicated he appreciates CSU students’ budget work and that he has been talking with legislators about the CSU and how underinvestment is harming California.

PHOTO: CSU Sacramento student Claudia tells her story. Campus President Robert Nelson, seated at left, listens. SQE member Jorge Quintana, wearing SQE shirt, together with SQE member Martha Ancajas, organized the event in preparation for the rally on April 4.