Students and faculty use Lobby Day at Capitol to push for tuition freeze
Students and faculty from all 23 California State Universities gathered in Sacramento on Wednesday to lobby lawmakers for more funding.
During the annual Lobby Day event, members of the California Faculty Association and Students for Quality Education visited the Capitol to urge Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislatures to increase funding for CSUs and pass legislation that would improve affordability and accessibility for the students.
“It’s an opportunity for faculty and students to educate about what’s really happening and how funding projects impacts students lives,” said Sheila Tully, San Francisco CFA chapter president.
Faculty and students specifically encouraged lawmakers to increase the CSU system budget by $182.5 million this fiscal year and to support three pieces of legislation: Assembly Bills 393, 21 and 1464.
AB 393 addresses the 5 percent tuition increase that was approved by CSU Board of Trustees in an 11-8 vote. Authored by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, this bill will freeze tuition and fee increases for CSUs and California Community Colleges in the 2019-20 academic year.
Tully was unable to participate in Lobby Day because she was teaching classes but believes that a 5 percent tuition increase will hurt students who are affected by homelessness and food insecurity.
“Every semester, I have students who are homeless or living out of their cars,” Tully said. “It’s pushing students out, they run out of money and they can’t survive.”
Student representatives from SF State’s chapter of Students for Quality Education also participated in Lobby Day to share the their perspective. This was the second year Shiba Bandeeba, Students for Quality Education co-president, attended to speak and lobby on behalf of students.
“I hope that we did our fellow students justice who (didn’t) have the privilege to go,” Bandeeba said. “I hope they find a better long-term solution and funding rather than just cutting corners that will lead us back to the same place.”
Lobby Day participants also marched from the Capitol Rose Garden to the steps of the Capitol Building. Though it was short, 20-year-old Maya Canaoes, psychology major and member of Students for Quality Education, found the march inspiring.
“It was a really powerful sense of unity and community,” Canaoes said. “Students and faculty are very firm and strong in what we are demanding. We’re not gonna sit down and be quiet.”
This was the first time Canaoes attended Lobby Day and she was surprised by how receptive lawmakers were to students’ remarks.
“I went into it with a perspective that we’re just students and they won’t listen,” Canaoes said. “I came out of it with a sense that we are powerful in numbers.”