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OPEN LETTER: We Must Protect Student Access to the California State University

CFA sent the following Open Letter to CSU Chancellor Timothy White and CSU Trustees in advance of the release on January 10, 2018 of Governor Brown’s 2018-19 State Budget plan .
 
CFA calls on CSU leaders to  be stronger in fighting to keep the CSU—the People’s University—public and open to all qualified Californians.

Chancellor Timothy White and CSU Trustees
California State University
401 Golden Shore
Long Beach, CA 90802

January 4, 2018

Dear Chancellor White and CSU Trustees,

The time has come for the state of California to end the long, slow process of dismantling public higher education. For decades, state disinvestment from the California State University has harmed students and it has harmed our state. We have too few Californians with college degrees.

The CSU is turning away eligible students who were promised a place in college in California’s Master Plan for Higher Education. More than 31,000 students were denied admission this year, with more students likely to be excluded in the future.

Now, this disinvestment is poised to continue, both in the Governor’s budget proposal to be released this month and in the budget request that the CSU Trustees submitted to the governor.

The Chancellor’s Office and the Board of Trustees are responsible for making sure that the CSU provides a quality education for qualified students. Instead, this Board sent the governor a budget request that failed to ask for adequate funding needed to serve students, making the CSU Board of Trustees complicit in this disinvestment.

Your inadequate funding request effectively invites another student tuition increase, shifting even more of the burden from those entrusted to protect California’s public higher education system onto our students and their families.

Make no mistake, race matters in these budgetary decisions. Today’s high school and community college students are the most racially and ethnically diverse in the state’s history. Over the years in which this demographic shift occurred, we see a simultaneous, systematic, and chronic reduction in state funding for the CSU.

In early 2017, CFA detailed this shift in the report “Equity Interrupted: How California is Cheating Its Future” (calfac.org/equity-interrupted). It was our hope that those who influence and create the state budget would take note and change their practices. The study quotes a CSU faculty member who pointed out: “As the students got darker, the funding got lighter.”

Yet, the Chancellor’s Office prepared and the Board of Trustees approved a 2018-19 budget that fails even to aspire to a level of funding the system needs and deserves right now, nor does it tackle this longer-term challenge to establish equitable access to education for today’s students.

This is unconscionable.

CFA calls on the Chancellor, Trustees, Governor, and Legislature to support increased funding for the CSU that includes funding for at least a 5 percent increase in student enrollment in 2018-19, which would open up spaces for more than 18,000 additional students to attend the CSU. The 1 percent enrollment growth (to admit an additional 3,641 full-time equivalent students) envisioned in the CSU request denies access to far too many qualified students.  

CFA is painfully aware that a 5 percent increase in enrollment does not reach every eligible student. Thousands would still be turned away. California must continue to re-invest in the future until the promise is fully realized.

We call on all advocates for public higher education that will advance our state’s future to stand up for the CSU—for our students, for our university, and for the future of our state.

Sincerely,

Jennifer L. Eagan
President, California Faculty Association

 

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