Most faculty members and students at California colleges are aware of the heavy financial burden that is placed upon the shoulders of students.
If you live abroad, there are housing costs to consider. If you commute, travel costs are of paramount concern. Overpriced books, with unnecessary extras are in almost every bookstore, on almost every college campus across the state.
College students are beginning to take action in the form of cooperative political resistance through the campaign, Tuition Relief Now.
TRN is sponsored by the Greenlighting Institute but is primarily for the students and by the students. Through petition signatures and ballot initiative, TRN is a campaign that is hoping to change the current fiscal situation for students in the hopes that students of the future will be able to afford to go to college and have enough political clout to change things at the administrative level in colleges.
“We advocate for access, quality and affordability of education,” said Dina Cervantes, Associated Students’ director of legislative affairs. “We’re just really making sure that everyone can afford to go to school and to finish.”
The historic document used as the basis for complaint and discontent known as the “College Master Plan for Higher Education” indicates that California made a promise to the young people of this state.
The promise was simple and consisted of making sure that the youth of the state would be able to accomplish the goal of social betterment and establishment of a college education through government assistance and subsidy. This promise was not kept, and now it is up to students, like those leading the TRN campaign, that are currently trying to pick up all the pieces.
Various student leaders and organizers that are part of the TRN campaign, such as CSUN organizer Laura Robledo, said the collective goal for every campus is to reach the general vicinity of 40,000 signatures of registered voters.
“Our goal for our campus is 10,000 signatures,” said Robledo. “What this initiative will do is freeze the increase of tuition for the next five years, and after, it can only go up to the rate of inflation, which is two percent.”
California Economic Snapshot released by the Joint Economic Committee in January 2008, indicates that college tuition has increased by about 47 percent in the past six years. This is a major problem for the students of the state.
“We are in the midst of a budget crunch right now,” said Chris Veath, campaign director. “This is a campaign that involves anyone that has stake in the future of California.”
This need for change is exposing the fact that students do not hold enough political or administrative clout to make any sort of real difference unless they gather en masse. A secondary goal of the TRN campaign is to give students a collective political voice.
“Every signature represents a little more power for the students,” said Veath.
The TRN campaign is initially meant to lessen the amount of funds that students who do not qualify for financial aid have to pay in order to get through college without having to incur serious amounts of debt.
The end result here is that the TRN campaign is good for both the people and the state of California. People with children will not have to pay so much to educate their children, and the infrastructure of the state will be subsidized.
“Students and parents will benefit directly,” said Veath. “California is a secondary beneficiary.”