An all-campus budget summit was held on March 13 in the USU Grand Salon in order to inform CSUN students, faculty and other members of the community of the impacts of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s proposed $386 million budget cut in the California State University system.
The summit is one of the many budget meetings that are being held in nearly all the CSUs throughout the state of California in order to organize against the governor’s proposal.
CSUN President Jolene Koester, Associated Students, California Faculty Association, California State Student Association, CSU administration and other unions and campus constituencies attended the summit and came together to inform nearly 300 in attendance about the governor’s plan. Those in attendance were given a folder with information about the governor’s budget cut proposal and a form to sign in order to join the alliance.
“Clearly this year, we have heard and we have seen recommendations that worry us greatly,” Koester said. “The $386 million dollars that the Board of Trustees requested for the California State University system was not recommended for funding.”
Koester asked the audience members to come together along and advocate for the importance of the CSU system.
Debra Farar, CSU Board of Trustees member, expressed the importance of the CSU system for California’s economy and future of the state.
“The message we want to deliver, and all trustees are going to work very hard along with all of our community, is that to those making all the budget cuts in Sacramento is the CSU is the economic engine of California and it represents the future of our state,” Farar said. “We know this, but I think we need a strong reminder to a lot of those serving in Sacramento.”
Farar said every dollar cut from the CSU translates into more than four dollars removed from the state’s economy. She added that the Board of Trustees pledges to work very hard to keep the CSU system and the state strong.
Theresa Montano, CFA chapter president for CSUN, discussed the impact the proposed budget cut will have on minority and poor working class students.
“You know that 10,000 students will be turned away next year,” Montano said. “You know that the students we serve, those poor working class and minority students who for this, is their entrance into economic stability, will not be able to have the kind of education that we know they deserve.”
“We know that the CSU is the solution because we live it every day,” she added. “First and foremost, this is about a united effort to tell the governor that we will not sit idly by while he continues to slash our budget.”
Montano asked the audience to sign the alliance forms in order to show the governor the diversity of people at CSUN who are fighting against his proposed budget cut in the CSU system.
“Again this is not just about a budget cut for this year,” Montano said. “This is about the future of the state of California. This is about saving public higher education. This is about saving the CSU.”
Renee Martinez, chief steward at CSUN for the Academic Professionals of California, said the union supports students and the fight against the governor’s budget cut proposal.
“The state needs to sufficiently fund us here so that we can truly support student success and we also want to say with clarity, they need to stop trying to balance the budget on the backs of students,” Martinez said.
CSUN Associated Students President Adam Haverstock said A.S. is committed to being involved in resolving the budget issue. Haverstock said April 21 will be a day of action as the University of California Students Association and the California community colleges have confirmed to join with the CSU to rally at the state’s capital in order to fight the proposed budget cuts in the higher education system. Haverstock told the audience to “spread the word” to CSUN students in order to get CSUN students at the rally.
“We want to have thousands of students there so that way the legislature knows how serious this issue is to the students,” Haverstock said.
He added that A.S. is trying to organize buses and hoping to take about 300 CSUN students to Sacramento.
A question and answer session was followed the summit. Marcos Zamora, a graduating senior from the Chicano/a studies department, asked Koester what she was going to do to stop the student fee increases at CSUN.
“I’m with you here today,” Koester said. “I’m with you here today along with 22 other campus presidents and the Board of Trustees of the California State University to go with you in the many ways in which we already have to Sacramento to ask the governor and the legislature to invest in the future of the state of California.”
Dina Cervantes, president of the California State Student Association, said she hopes CSUN students attend the rally.
“It’s going to be a historical day for students so we just really hope that they take advantage,” Cervantes said.
At the end of the summit Koester said, “My message is investing in the California State system, investing in Cal State Northridge because we’re an investment in the future.”