Tuition freeze bill moves through state Assembly committees

The Higher Education Committee approved Assembly bills Tuesday that will benefit California students if passed, including one that would freeze tuition until December 2020.

Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva and leaders of the California Faculty Association authored AB-393, also known as the Student Protection Act, which could freeze California State University system tuition to December 2016 rates. The legislation also urges the University of California system to do the same, according to Quick-Silva’s moratorium fact sheet. If passed all the way through the state Assembly, the bill would then be sent to the state Senate and Gov. Jerry Brown.

“The bill would require the tuition and mandatory systemwide fees for students not to be increased for this year and the moratorium will be in place until the 2019-2020 academic year,” said Ron Hayduk, SF State political science associate professor and CFA-SF State executive board political action director.

Hayduk has been working to challenge and fight the tuition increase for the past four to five months by meeting with state Assembly representatives in San Mateo, San Francisco, Sacramento and other counties around the region.

Hayduk says this bill is important especially for students in San Francisco, where the cost of living is high.

“It’s basically an economic development investment,” Hayduk said. “Higher education produces students who are able to not only sustain themselves but to help grow the economy.”

Sheila Tully, CFA Chapter, San Francisco president, said politicians in Sacramento are not aware of the financial struggles students have to endure due to the high cost of living in the Bay Area.

“Some students are not eating because they don’t have enough money for food and that gets in the way of their studies,” Tully said.

Aside from AB-393, the Higher Education Committee approved three other bills designed to support California students. Bill AB-21 will guarantee higher education institutions as safe spaces from immigration enforcement activities.  It will also safeguard Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals students from losing their financial aid on the event that DACA policies change.

AB 1464 would increase tenure-track faculty by 75 percent by 2026 and requires CSUs to issue reports on the progress. AB 1038 will create the “Blue Ribbon Commission on Public Postsecondary Education,” which aims to improve access and affordability to education for California students as well as addressing the needs of underrepresented groups.

CSU faculty and students will be meeting with Rep. David Chiu of the 17th Assembly District April 28, according to Hayduk.

“The more of us that raise our voices, the more pressure it’ll put on the representatives and hopefully it’ll help elevate that request on the budget,” Hayduk said.