During the Buck Starts Here campaign’s visit to SF State, hosted by Associated Students Inc., students spoke about their experiences with persistent tuition increases in the middle of the Cesar Chavez Student Center. Nearby sat a box overflowing with bills featuring the face of Gov. Jerry Brown, representing the budget cuts to the CSU system.
The rally began at noon today in the student center and drew approximately 200 students. They wrote their personal stories on the back of the bills that were placed in the box, which will travel to the remaining six CSU campuses before being delivered to Gov. Brown at the annual march in Sacramento in support of Higher Education. Rally supporters hope that the individual stories will have an impact on the budget decisions.
One student speaker, liberal studies major Evan Rivera-Owings, 20, performed a spoken word piece.
“I’m like everyone else,” said Rivera-Owings. “I’m going in debt until I’m 30 so I decided to speak up. I’d really like to go to the march, but I’m already paying so much money for school that I would hate to miss a day of classes.”
Overall, ASI Vice President of External Affairs Yesenia Martinez was very pleased with the student turnout at the event. So far, according to Martinez, ASI has collected 500 bills with personal stories and hopes to collect 1,000 before the week is out. Also nearly 20 student organizations were present including Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor, College Democrats and Occupy SFSU.
“It seems really busy, despite the rain,” said Sean Richards, vice president of legislative affairs for the California State Student Association. “People are walking through and at the end of the day they are getting the message.”
Krista Parker, vice president of external affairs at San Diego State University, first pitched the idea to the CSSA board back in November.
“To me this idea was about giving the average student the opportunity to tell how the budget cuts are affecting them,” Parker said. “Often times we hear from the same students. This gives every student an equal opportunity to express their stories.”
One student Johanna Vera, 23, a senior design and industry visual communications major, shared about how she had taken out the maximum amount of loans a dependent student could by the time she was a junior.
“My mom had to withdraw from her retirement fund early to help me cover the remaining tuition for my last three semesters.”
ASI was also signing up students for buses they are providing as transport to the annual March for Education that will be happening on March 5, in Sacramento.