For the last decade—CSU students have fought back against budgets cuts to education and we’ve tried just about everything you can think of to prevent the dismantling of our public university system. We’ve lobbied our state legislators, we’ve mobilized thousands to our state capital, and we’ve presented new strategies to our Board of Trustees so that we can change the course and try efficient alternatives. And sadly, our voice, the voices of students, are ignored and pushed aside. It is due to their callousness and complete disregard to students’ issues that on March 20, Students for Quality Education presented four concrete solutions.
The first demand is a five year fee increase moratorium. Trustee William Hauck proclaimed that “the Board doesn’t have the stomach to raise tuition anymore” Our fees have risen 318% since 2002. We don’t have the stomach to continue paying more and getting less.
The second demand is to eliminate Chancellor Reed and the President’s housing and car allowances. These are luxuries that we refuse to subsidize in a time of crisis.
The third demand is to reduce administrative and executive salaries to 1999 levels because that is our current operating budget for everyone else. We think our administrators should be paid accordingly and these funds used to open more classes.
The fourth demand is to remove all restrictions of free speech on our campuses and at the Chancellor’s Office.
We gave Chancellor Reed and Chair Linschied 31 days to recognize our struggles and meet with us. Unfortunately, our request for a meeting has been ignored. We won’t stop until the voices of students are heard and our demands are considered.
We expect this tactic to be criticized by the conservative factions of the Daily 49er and maybe even the passive “leaders” of our student governments. They’ll say that the real problem is the state legislature. And that’s partially right. State funding is inadequate and that’s why members of SQE and other activists groups went up to Sacremento on March 5. But the fact of the matter is that the Board of Trustees and the Chancellor must REPRESENT students.
They have raised tuition every single year for the last decade even though the state guts higher education—which basically sends the message that we can always count on students to pay the bill—even though they can’t afford it. Meanwhile, corporations who make record profits pay ZERO in taxes. Even more alarming is the fact that the Chancellor gave the state 450 million dollars to the state under Gov. Schwarzenegger and $700 million last year to Gov. Brown. We are strapped for cash so to help the situation the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees give $1.4 billion back to the state? Is this the twilight zone?
The second criticism that trolls might launch against us is that we are the “puppets and pawns” of the teachers, that we aren’t individuals but simply brainwashed students who have no autonomy and do whatever our faculty tell us. Guess what, we made this decision on our own—as students. This isn’t about the faculty contract or a political maneuver to get them a pay raise—its about students standing up for themselves and for their fellow classmates. We are forced to escalate our actions in the tradition of non-violent civil disobedience because we want our executives and administrators to share the sacrifice. They are not immune. If they don’t want to share the sacrifice because it will “change their lifestyles” then perhaps they should look for a job in the private sector. The good news is that this isn’t the end, but a means. Our struggle is not unique. Millions of students around the world are fighting against the same injustices from Puerto Rico to Quebec, from Chile to California.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
The hunger strikers will begin their fast on Wednesday, May 2 on their campuses. On Friday, May 5, they will spend three days at the first congregational church in downtown Long Beach. After that they will be driven to the board of trustees meeting in downtown Long Beach on May 8 and 9.
We know finals and papers are probably driving you crazy, but we need your support. You can help us spread the word to your friends and family, give us a high five in the free speech zone across from the bookstore, or come to the Board of Trustees meeting on May 8 and May 9 to stand beside us.