Eagan to CA Dems: Help keep the doors of our collective future open

Eagan to CA Dems: Help keep the doors of our collective future open

The following is a speech CFA President Jennifer Eagan gave to delegates during the California Democratic Convention Feb. 23-25 in San Diego.

We need you Democrats. The faculty needs you and the students need you. The future of California depends on the Democratic Party. I am Jennifer Eagan, president of the California Faculty Association and a professor at the CSU — the People’s University. I’m asking for your support for an important issue of our time. I am asking you to help keep the doors of our collective future open.

I’m asking you at a time of increased division, at a time when 45 is working hard to divide us, to help keep our public universities accessible and affordable for all. That’s right not just for the rich and the rich. Not just for white folks. Not just for the lucky, but for all Californians who were promised a place and are working hard to achieve their dreams.

For so many of us in this room, going to college was a life changing opportunity. The dream to complete in education and to be able to create a life beyond our parents’ wildest hopes. For so many of us who are now parents, we’re worried about how to send our kids to college because of astronomical tuition increases.

For so many families a college education for their children seems completely out of reach. That is just wrong. The CSU — the People’s University — fuels the engine of the California dream.

You know, the CSU serves twice as many students as the UC system. Ninety-four percent of CSU students are Californians. And 72 percent of CSU students identify as People of Color. The CSU is a public university that serves the public good.

And yet, since the year 2000. The CSU has raised tuition by 300 percent. Yes I know that’s not a typo — 300 percent. And 5 percent just last year. And to make matters worse, this year, the CSU is proposing to once again raise tuition on our students and on our working families. We cannot stand idle. You’re not going to stand idle and that happened are you? No. Not when we know that our state investment in our universities has dropped at a time when an increasing number of our students are People of Color, are the first in their families to go to college, and the children of immigrants. Not when we know that 41.6 of CSU students report being food insecure.

How are you supposed to afford tuition when you can’t eat? We’re not going to stand idle when we know that 10.9 percent of CSU students report experiencing homelessness within the past 12 months. Homeless and in college.

The Democratic Party has been the party of social, racial, and economic justice. The party that empowers the powerless. Well delegates, now it’s time to stand up for students and for the future of California. We need your help to stop the toxic policies of drastically decreased state investment in our public university and raising the cost on our students and working families. We need you to make sure that California invests in our people. And we need you to make sure working people have a chance.

This party knows that social justice is about empowering the people. And nothing empowers the people better than education. So I am asking the California Democratic Party to come together as one in opposition to the proposed tuition increases at the CSU and to restore public higher education in California. And I know you are up to the challenge. Thank you very much. 

Also see News Release: California Faculty Association applauds CA Dem Party opposition of CSU, UC tuition increases