ASI inspires students to fight against tuition increase
Associated Students Inc. collected testimonials from students at Malcolm X Plaza Wednesday to reject a tuition increase proposed for the fall semester.
“This is crunch time,” said Celia LoBuono Gonzalez, ASI’s vice president of external affairs. “We really need students to step up and speak their stories.”
LoBuono Gonzalez discussed the rainy-day fund Gov. Brown created in 2016 in an effort to stabilize the budget and safeguard against state debt.
“What does that mean when you have students who are living in their cars, who don’t have enough food to eat, and are just struggling to get by?” LoBuono Gonzalez asked. “I feel like today is when we need to be spending that money.”
ASI called students to meet and talk about the possible increase and encouraged them to participate in a protest at the Board of Trustees delegation meeting scheduled for March 22 in Long Beach.
ASI will present testimonials from students reflecting how the 5 percent tuition increase for California residents and the 6.5 percent increase for non-residents will affect them.
LoBuono Gonzalez said she began spreading the word in October 2016. ASI has sent newsletters to students including links to information about the increase and hosted a town hall meeting last fall to discuss how students can share their testimonials.
According to LoBuono Gonzalez, the goal last Wednesday was to get at least 40 students to sign up to join the protest against the hike. Student protesters plan to take a charter bus from SF State to the venue in Long Beach on Tuesday.
In September of 2016, California State University system Chancellor Timothy P. White emailed the California State Student Association to announce the proposed tuition increase that would take effect in fall 2017, according to LoBuono Gonzalez.
In the same email, White identified top priorities the Board of Trustees plans on addressing with the increased revenues, including Graduation Initiative 2025, enrollment growth, academic facilities, campus infrastructure, employee compensation and mandatory costs like healthcare and retirement for employees.
“The money will go to adding more classes to help students graduate on time,” said Elizabeth Chapin, CSU public affairs manager. “A lot of the classes in the highest demand are unavailable and adding more of those will require more faculty and student advisors.”
According to Chapin, if the state fully funds the CSU system, plans for a tuition increase will be rescinded.
On March 22, the Board of Trustees will be voting on the tuition increase, but even if passed, a final decision will not be made until June when the governor releases the 2017-2018 budget.
Gonzalez thinks the decision on a tuition increase is time-sensitive and needs to be addressed immediately. During the testimonial event she asked students for their opinions and personal stories about how the tuition hike would impact their lives. Students wrote their thoughts on cards, which ASI will bring when they visit the senator and assembly members’ offices.
Rachel Yun, a business major, expressed her frustration about living in an expensive area, such as the Bay Area.
Yun said that she would just have to obtain more loans to cover the added expense from a tuition hike and worries about how she would cover the summer term tuition.
“I’m a full-time worker and a full-time student,” said health education major Loida Morales. “I am also doing an internship to build up my network and my career. A tuition increase means I’d need to work more, which means I won’t have time for a lot of things.”
Being a full-time student while working part time is a struggle that many students already experience with the current tuition.
BECA major Yzabel Cabral also fears she won’t be able to afford equipment necessary for student success nor to take the time off to spend time with friends and family.
“I need a lot of stuff for my major and with a tuition increase; I won’t be able to invest in my career,” Cabral said. “I won’t have time for my social life at all and being able to spend time with friends and family makes me feel good. If I can’t do that because of work and school, then I’ll get stressed out.”
Students like Katherine Jaramillo and Michael Morrisroe aren’t worried the issue will personally affect them but are concerned about the impact to others students and society.
“Any increase is just going to further the gap between those who can afford education and those who cannot,” said Morrisroe. “Knowledge should not be only for those people who can afford it.”
Attendees gathered to form the phrase “No Hikes” toward the end of the Wednesday’s event and 37 students signed up to participate in the March 22 protest in Long Beach where the Board of Trustees will be voting on the proposed tuition increase.