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Students, faculty, staff and administrators recently rallied against a proposed $386 million cut to the CSU budget.

Rallying for Education

Students, staff and faculty members rally to stop proposed budget cuts to the CSU budget.

March 27, 2008

By Paula Selleck

More than 900 campus leaders, students, faculty and staff members recently mobilized to preserve funding for the California State University, in the face of the state's mounting budget crisis.

"Mess with the CSU and you mess with California," Anthropology Department Chair Jack Bedell, professor of sociology and president of the California County Boards of Education, said at a packed budget meeting on March 25.

Bedell served as moderator for the program, introducing speakers — leaders of employee and student groups — who are championing a joint advocacy effort under the umbrella of the Alliance for the CSU.

One by one, they addressed the ways in which Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed $386 million in cuts to the CSU budget would adversely affect California, threatening the CSU's ability to produce enough graduates to meet the state's needs.

They discussed how access to the CSU would be denied to 10,000 eligible students if the cuts are implemented, resulting in "less access for the underrepresented," said CSU Trustee Debra S. Farar.

"As a major supplier of graduates for California's workforce, we serve as a powerful engine for the state's economy," she said. "We're especially concerned about cuts to higher education. CSU provides access to a diverse spectrum…and represents their entrée into the middle class."

For those who are the first in their families to attend college, the CSU may be their only affordable option, said Janette Hyder, chief steward of the CSUF chapter of Academic Professionals of California. "We must ensure that working families and underserved communities have access to higher education."

Noting that "CSU is the solution," Mougu Nyaggah, president of the CSUF chapter of the California Faculty Association and associate professor of history, donned one of the T-shirts being distributed with that slogan.

"California's economy thrives on knowledge-based innovation, and California is the key to that knowledge-based innovation," he said. "For every $1 the state invests in the CSU, the state gets back $4.41."

Jay Jimenez, president of the CSUF chapter of the CSU Employees Union, ticked off a list of job groups in California that draw more than half of their workers from the ranks of CSU graduates: 65 percent of those in business, 66 percent in nursing, 87 percent in education and nearly 90 percent of those in criminal justice.

He characterized the proposed cuts as "devastating" and predicted that "the impact will reach far beyond our state workforce."

According to Willie Hagan, vice president for administration and finance and chief financial officer, Cal State Fullerton's share of the proposed budget reduction would be $18.1 million. He outlined the impact for the campus and for the community the university serves:

  • Denying access to up to 1,000 fully eligible upper-division transfer students
  • Cutting over 1,200 course sections in the next academic year
  • Employing fewer part-time faculty members
  • Increasing student time to complete a degree
  • Reducing expenditures on facilities maintenance

Bedell added: "Picture it: 1,200 fewer classes next year. If nothing focuses our attention like a guillotine, that shall."

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