Teach-in discusses days of affordable education

Maritza Pulido, a 22-year-old international relations major, will be graduating this spring with degree in hand attached to $31,000 in debt.

“This budget situation is disappointing and it enrages you,” she said.

Pulido is one of many students who left her hometown of Los Angeles to pursue higher education in San Francisco, and one of many who gathered in Jack Adams hall today to listen to the Day of Class Action for Higher Education teach-in April 13.

“Students and California Faculty Association members worked together for about two months to organize the event,” said Abdiel Onate, CFA member and associate professor in the history department at the University.

The teach-in featured a four-speaker forum and concluded with questions from the audience to the panelists.

“We’re doing this event to mobilize people to defend the school’s quality and programs,” Onate said. “It’s important that students and faculty work together because layoffs and prolonged graduation dates affects us all.”

Ramon Castellblanch, president of the California Faculty Association SF State chapter, said the next step is for students, staff and faculty to occupy the state capitol May 13.

“We have to tell the people in Sacramento it’s time to get the people’s business done,” he said.

Paul Sherwin, dean of the college of Humanities at SF State, and one of the speakers at the event, shared his memories of days when higher education was free and how each year, it becomes less and less affordable.

“I can still remember the times when there was enough money for chalk,” he chuckled. “This was 30 years ago, when the country still recognized higher education is the best investment a country can make.”

According to Sherwin, the college of Humanities alone experienced a $2.5 million cut in 2009.

“Whether it is through more furloughs or higher tuition and fees, we have to find ways to preserve the heart of the University: Faculty, students, internship programs and student services,” he said.

Dominique James, a senior and creative writing major at SF State, spoke at the event as a representative of the student body.

James is a fourth year senior who will graduate next spring. For one more year, he said he would have to make friends in each class to share the textbooks that he can’t afford.

“I feel like everyday I spend more time strategizing my finances than reading my books and learning in the classroom,” he said.