Some welcome news came from the California State University Board of Trustees over the break: for the first time since 2006 they aren’t planning on any tuition hikes for this semester, and Gov. Jerry Brown released a state budget proposal that would put an additional $125.1 million back into the CSU system.
On the surface, this would appear to be a victory for students. We’ve spent years watching our tuition incrementally climb each semester, while student groups rallied, protested and advocated for an affordable education. The fact that tuition is staying flat this semester is a welcome reprieve.
But this achievement should not be viewed as a reason to celebrate. Let’s not forget that full-time yearly tuition in the 2006-07 school year was at $2,520 and within five years, it skyrocketed to $5,472. It appears that the $125.1 million slated for the CSU system is an indication that California is on its way to financial stability. In light of this news, the CSU trustees and Gov. Brown should not be let off the hook or given a “get out of jail free pass.” Rather than celebrate, we should continue to advocate for an affordable education — not one that stays at the same price.
As students, we are not asking for a hand out, but we do think that tuition should be decreased to pre-recession levels. Not because we want something for free, but because it makes sense economically.
A quality education leads to increased earning potential, which would boost consumer spending and tax revenues. Without an educated workforce, our state will continue to languish in the economic doldrums.
As much as state budget cuts have impacted students, they’ve affected faculty as well. None of our professors have received a raise for several years. Without any incentives, quality professors and lecturers will leave and be replaced by those willing to settle for stagnant wages.
What we are asking for is a college education system that is affordable for students of all socio-economic backgrounds. We deserve an education that produces valuable members of the workforce, without any crippling student loans attached.
In the 1950s, state legislators and academic administrators knew the demand for higher education would go up with the maturation of the baby boomer generation. To prepare, they came up with a “Master Plan for Higher Education” that dictated higher education should “be available to all regardless of their economic means, and that academic progress should be limited only by individual proficiency.”
While times have certainly changed since the 50s, we believe that this mission statement still rings true and students should continue to do everything they can to actualize it.