Students on bookstore lawn protest against budget cuts

Cynthia Gomez

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As Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is getting ready to release a revised proposal for the 2008-09 California state budget this month, students are speaking out against his $1 billion dollar budget cut proposal to higher education.

Students lined up on the book store lawn on Thursday to fill out and sign fax forms, letter forms and called the governor’s office in Los Angeles in order to get their message across to the governor, which is to restore the $386 million to the California State University system if his budget proposal gets approved for the 2008-09 fiscal year.

“We’re trying to tell the governor and the legislators that cutting education is wrong because we (students) are the solution to the problem with the economy,” said Helen Nguyen, business marketing major and a member of the CSUN chapter of the CSU Students for Quality Education.

Along with the CSUN chapter of the CSU Students for Quality Education, the California Faculty Association, MEChA and the Central American United Student Association sponsored the rally and gave away free pizza to students who signed one or both of the forms.

Students were encouraged to fill out and sign two forms. The letter forms were already written for students, but students were able to add any comments if they wanted to do so and needed to sign the letter with their signature. The letter forms addressed to the governor with “Dear Governor Schwarzenegger” and started with the statement: “As a student at California State University, Northridge, I care about the CSU!”

Students signed fax forms that stated: “I support the California State University and you should too! No budget cuts! Restore the $386 million to the CSU budget in your revised May budget.”

Several students who volunteered at the rally handed out the forms and wore red T-shirts that read in white and yellow print, “CSU is the solution!” on the front, and “CSU Students, Take Action!” on the back.

Other students who volunteered and filled out forms, like Heather Edwards, a marketing major, wore light blue T-shirts that read in black print, “Save CSUs?” on front, and “?We R the Solution!” on the back.

“We’re trying to get as many CSUN students as possible (and) anybody that’s on campus just to sign up,” Edwards said.

Edwards expressed her thoughts on the governor’s budget cut proposal. “I think it’s outrageous,” Edwards said. “Being that the CSUs support like 86 percent of the workforce now. I think it’s ridiculous that a lot people aren’t going to be able to come to school just because of the budget cuts, which would raise tuition. So a lot of students are already struggling to pay tuition and raising it would just make it worse.”

Davina Evans, a sociology major, filled out the forms at the rally and called the governor’s budget cut proposal “unfair.” Evans said students need to fight against the governor’s proposal by filling out the forms and speaking out against his budget cut proposal because it would make a difference as their voices and concerns will be heard.

“I know he (Schwarzenegger) has his reasons for the budget cuts, but I mean it’s still coming out of our pockets,” said Carlos Espinoza, a sociology major. “Obviously we’re not going to just sit back and just say OK.”

Danny Santana, a history and Chicana/o studies major, attended the rally and called the governor’s office in Los Angeles and read a statement off from a green flier that stated: “I support the California State University and you should too! Please restore the $386 million to the CSU budget in your revised May budget. Thank you.”

The fliers were given to students if they wanted to call the governor’s office in Los Angeles and speak out against the governor’s budget cut proposal.

Santana said minority students would be most affected if the governor’s budget cut proposal gets approved because minority students are already underrepresented and the governor may cut university student outreach to high schools that have a high population of minority students.

Santana added that some students also come from low-income families and if the governor’s proposed 10 percent student fee increase gets approved, a lot of low-income students will not be able to afford to pay tuition.

“It’s not even about can you come to the university anymore, now its can you afford it,” Santana said.

The governor has proposed to cut $1 billion to higher education including $386 million from the CSU system. The proposed budget cuts to the CSU would include a 10 percent student fee increase, the elimination of access to 10,000 eligible incoming students, the elimination of classes, increases in class size and the reduction of the number of faculty and staff.

Early this month, the governor will submit a revised budget proposal, also known as a “May Revise,” for the 2008-09 state budget. If approved by two-thirds of the Legislature vote, the governor is expected to approve the budget by July 1, the first day of the new fiscal year.