Students, Faculty protest proposed tuition hikes and demand Trustees #FreeTheCSU

Students and faculty converged on the CSU Board of Trustees’ meeting in Long Beach and on several CSU campuses Tuesday and Wednesday to protest the proposed 5% tuition hike.

The proposed tuition increase was presented as an information item to be discussed during Tuesday’s meeting.

Dulce Lopez, a student at CSU Dominguez Hills, questioned the Trustees understanding of students and the financial struggle they already experience.

“The recent talk about a possible tuition increase has caused fear amongst my peers and I,” Lopez said. “You often say that you understand the struggle of having to pay for school…You do not understand what it is like to go hungry 1,2,3,4 days in order to pay for school and bills.

“It is unfair to continue raising tuition and not take into consideration the students who give life to the CSU’s, give you a job, and ultimately deserve an education. But there is hope that you can take away the fear. That you can represent the students. Use your power to stop the tuition increase and give students the chance to live beyond school, work, and stress.”

CFA President Jennifer Eagan called on Trustees to be fierce advocates for students and oppose the fee increase.

“If you pass the student fee increase, you will be capitulating to the same tired narrative that the Master Plan is dead and this is the ‘new normal,’” she said. “We all know there is nothing normal about these times.”

Eagan, a Professor at Cal State East Bay, said Trustees must oppose the fee increase in order to strengthen efforts to increase the CSU state budget augmentation later this spring. Trustees had requested $343.7 million more in state funding for the 2017-18 fiscal year, but Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal would only increase the CSU’s state funding by $161.2 million.

Eagan also highlighted CFA’s new report, “Equity Interrupted: How California is Cheating Its Future,” which details the systemic and steady disinvestment in the CSU over the past 30 years as the student body grew increasingly diverse.

Antonio Gallo, a faculty member in the Chicano Studies Department at Cal State Northridge, said the state is investing 41 percent less on students today than it did in 1985. Back then, tuition and fees were only $666. Today, they’ve increase by 923 percent.

“Many of our students today face daunting economic challenges. A recent study commissioned by the CSU Chancellors office found that one in 10 CSU students today is homeless. And yet you are asking students to pay more,” he challenged.

Students for Quality Education (SQE) also held protests at CSU Fullerton on Tuesday, and at Chico State, Cal State East Bay, Sonoma State, Fresno State, and San Bernardino on Wednesday.

Photo: SQE students and faculty protest the proposed tuition hikes during the CSU Trustees meeting on Tuesday. Photo by Brittany Murray, Long Beach Press Tribune.