CSUs unite at meeting to plan protests of budget cuts

Cynthia Gomez

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The California State University Board of Trustees held a meeting on March 12 to discuss Gov. Schwarzenegger’s $386 million budget cut proposal in the CSU system.

Representatives of the California Faculty Association and California State Student Association attended the meeting in Long Beach to discuss the main focus of the meeting’s agenda.

Lillian Taiz, president of the CFA, showed a media coverage of the first CSU campus budget forum that was held on March 3 at CSU Dominguez Hills to educate students, faculty and other members of the public about the governor’s proposed budget cuts. Nearly every CSU campus has a scheduled budget forum in the upcoming weeks.

“The meetings are meant to educate the campuses on the issues,” Taiz said. “To make sure that everyone understands our message and most importantly, to assure that people leave the meeting ready for action and (I am) optimistic that together we can win.”

Taiz said the forum that was held at CSUDH was a success because by the end of the forum 400 people had signed cards agreeing to support the alliance with the CFA and CSU in order to participate in the fight against the governor’s proposed budget cuts.

Taiz said the messages the CSU presidents are making about the impact of the proposed budget cuts also signify the importance of the campus forums.

She added that the CFA hopes each trustee is able to attend at least one of the campus budget forums in order to “demonstrate the unity of the campaign.”

“All of us in this room owe it to our students to be the kind of leaders who will not allow this to happen without a fight,” Taiz said. “We cannot and will not accept these cuts. It would be bad for our students, bad for our system, and catastrophic for the state because as we all know, CSU is the solution.”

CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed commented on the governor’s proposed budget cuts and the potential impact the cuts might have in the system.

“We cannot afford to pay the $312 million dollar cut,” Reed said referring to the proposed budget cut in the CSU general funding. “It does affect access. All of our institutions have shut down the admissions as of March 1?Four years from now we know we’ll graduate fewer than 90,000 students. That’s going to affect the workforce in California and make us less competitive.”

Reed said the messages being sent out in the campus budget forums and the messages being sent out by the CSU, CFA and other unions and associations need to be said over and over again.

CSSA President Dina Cervantes spoke in the meeting about the rally that will take place in Sacramento on April 21 to fight against the governor’s budget cut proposal.

Cervantes said the rally has been adopted as a statewide day of action, where the University of California and California community colleges will join with the CSU to rally at the state’s capitol.

“We expect that to be a very historical day,” Cervantes said.

She added that there might be a potential rally in Los Angeles and in other areas of California, but it is still unknown.

At the end of the meeting, Lt. Gov. John Garamendi expressed his reactions and thoughts about the governor’s budget proposal.

“It’s a starvation diet for (the) California education system,” Garamendi said, “and if we stand a starvation diet, we grow weak. The system just collapses and we got to (move) this budget back to an adequate level so that we could really advance the education, K through 12, the community colleges, as well as the CSU and the universities. Those are the engines for economic growth and social justice in the state and if they’re not running well, if you’re starving them, this state will not prosper and social and economic problems will multiply.”

Garamendi said he is delighted to see the CSU, UC, and California community colleges together to send the message out to educate Californians about the “need to invest in the intellectual infrastructure of the state.”

“The budget forums that the CSU are doing on each campus is the starting point for disseminating information about what these budgets do to starve the system and then from there those forums need to morph grow into community action around each campus,” Garamendi said.

Other items on the agenda that were discussed in the meeting were the new appointed student trustee, the recent incidents at CSUN and CSUDH, and Reeds’ plan to transfer students from the University of Maryland who have served in the Iraq War.

Curtis Grima, a student from CSU Sacramento, was appointed as a student trustee by the governor on Jan. 25.

“I’m very excited to be here on the board and we will make a positive impact on the CSU and the state of California,” Grima said.

Reed touched on the recent incident that occurred at CSUN on March 12 and in CSUDH on Feb. 21, where there were reports of an armed suspect on the campus, but was actually a student ROTC cadet walking through campus with his training rifle while not in uniform.

“Those are the kinds of things we got to be prepared for and you’re never prepared for that,” Reed said. “One of the things that we’re learning is how important communications are in a crisis and having a communication system that will reach students (and) faculty. We’re trying to have in place everything from text messaging, to e-mails?.to speakers, or whatever we can get the word out on campuses.”

Reed said he wants to sign a transfer agreement with the University of Maryland’s extension college in order for 20,000 of the 100,000 students in the college to come back to their home state of California.

“As the president of that institution said to me many of their students live in California, want to come back to California, (and) want to graduate from California State University,” Reed said. “We need to recognize that and figure out how to transfer as much of the credit as we possibly can.”