Faculty, students at Cal State schools protest planned cuts

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Corey Moore/KPCC

Protester Rosa Huerta says she can't afford to pay higher tuition costs. But Huerta and other students may be forced to as a result of planned cuts at Cal State Dominquez Hills and other CSU schools.

Faculty and students at the Cal State Universities say they face higher tuition costs, more crowded classrooms and a lesser education if a state plan to cut the budget goes through. They demonstrated Wednesday at all 23 Cal State campuses.

During a rally at Cal State Dominguez Hills, it was hard to tell faculty members from students. At least a couple dozen of them wore matching bright red T-shirts that read “Take Class Action” and they all expressed anger at the same thing: planned cuts to CSU’s budget.

They chanted "higher education is under attack, what you gonna do? Fight back, fight back."

Adrienne McKinney, a senior in sociology and Africana studies, helped lead the midday march.

“I’m not walking around with a bunch of money in my pocket," McKinney said. "So I’m having to continue to take out loans and the same thing I’m sure everybody else here is doing and of course... even after me graduating – pending that I even get a job, how long is it gonna take for me to pay that off?”

If voters reject Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to temporarily increase taxes, education activists say the Cal State, University of California and community college systems could each lose $500 million in state money next fiscal year.

Dominguez Hills History department chair Kate Fowver says undergrads would especially feel the pinch with higher school costs and fewer instructors. “We don’t exist without the students. The students are our lifeblood. Our lives are dedicated to students.”

Student Jack Hicks of Long Beach watched the protest from the sidelines. But he isn't convinced that demonstrations like this will help.

Hicks says he's already seen the quality of public higher education decline as tuition has increased. “If you went to the classrooms and see, they’re overcrowded, the teachers really don’t care, they don’t take attendance. They don’t get personal with the students at all. It’s kind of sad.”

The Cal State chancellor says system administrators don’t plan to raise tuition. Several weeks ago, students walked out of classes to protest higher fees. Right now Cal State undergrads, on average, pay $6,000 a year.

Cal State has launched a plan to cut its enrollment by 10,000 students – and to slash about $300 million from its budget.

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