Students rally for CSU budget

by Kevin Smead

Antonio Zaragoza, Photo Editor
Antonio Zaragoza, Photo Editor

Associated Students of San Diego State held a rally for higher education at the end of Campanile Walkway yesterday afternoon. The rally focused on the impact of the $650 million budget cuts approved during the summer and the subsequent $294 fee increase for all California State University students.

Attendees participated in the rally in several different ways. Students were able to register to vote or change their voting address if they recently moved to California. In addition to voter registration, students were encouraged to vote in upcoming elections to make their voices heard through the democratic process.

The rally also marked the beginning of “The Buck Starts Here!” campaign. Participants were given a red mock-up of a $650 million bill with the face of Gov. Jerry Brown on the center and instructed to write their personal story of how the budget cuts have affected them on the faux-currency. These bills were then placed in a box that will travel throughout the CSU system, collecting bills all across the state.

On March 5 of next year, a “March in March” event will be held in which all of the collected bills will be delivered to Sacramento in the form of a peaceful march on the capital. Although the politically charged currency will only travel through the CSU system, the University of California system and community colleges will also take part. A letter will also be addressed to Brown, citing grievances in regards to the state of the CSU budget.

While the official box holding the bills will be leaving SDSU and going to CSU San Marcos next Monday, students are still able to submit their personal stories via the bills on campus all semester.

“We’re doing this campaign to show that students aren’t going to stay silent anymore,” Nicole Ganz, Legislative Research Commissioner for A.S., said. “(Students) are seeing both budget cuts and class size increases. We want to make sure that students’ voices are being heard and that the governor and legislature know we will remain quiet no longer.”

A.S. Vice President of External Affairs Krista Parker said that despite these frustrations, students can make a difference.

“Sometimes, when you just want to scream, it’s easier to rationalize what you’re feeling by writing it down,” Parker said. “We want students to know that their voices matter.”

The rally comes the same week that “trigger cuts” built into the state budget may threaten the entire California education system. If tax revenues are not approximately $4 billion more than the state budget forecast by next month, Brown and the state legislature must assess whether further cuts are needed. As of Sept. 30, the forecast is approximately $700 million behind the goal.

The cuts would be enacted in a tiered structure with tier one going into effect Jan. 1 and tier two occurring Feb. 1. If the projected budget gap for the next fiscal year reaches the first tier of $1 billion, UC and CSU budgets would be trimmed by $100 million each and community college fees would be increased by $10 per unit. If the projected gap reaches the second tier of $2 billion, the school year will be reduced by seven days.

Yesterday’s rally should send a clear message to Brown about what the students want, but whether or not the tiered-system cuts go into effect will depend on many factors. Should the additional cuts not occur, which is a goal of the Rally For Higher Education, it would be the first time since the 2007-2008 fiscal year the California education system has received the entire amount of its allotted funding without a cut.