‘At what C.O.S.T. will you stay silent?’

Photo Credit: Zara AleksanYan / staff photographer
Photo Credit: Katie Chavarin / staff photographer

With what began as frustrated students in a classroom, the Coalition of Students and Teachers (C.O.S.T.) has evolved into a movement where these same students and their professors present facts, but also give solutions to the budget cuts that students have been dealing with this semester.

Students, professors and faculty members from C.O.S.T. stood on the Oviatt Lawn Wednesday morning to try to not only educate students about the budget crisis, and offer solutions to the problem in a festive way.

“We are trying to educate students and help them feel empowered,” said communication studies professor, Randi Picarelli, a founding organizer of the club.

“We wanted the theme to be festive and not discouraging because students can make a change,” Picarelli said.

The C.O.S.T. Carnival offers 10 to 15 different booths a day — all put together by communication studies students — geared toward making students aware of the current economic situation plaguing college students.

Each class had students separated into groups that set up their own booth based on what they wanted to voice their opinion on, and each booth had enthusiastic students ready and energized to inspire other students to stand up and make a difference.

One of the booths had students wearing T-shirts sharing their own personal struggles.

“I’m a super senior, I’ve been here six years,” read one of the many slogans that students wore on their T-shirts.

“I have been in school for seven years and I am not a doctor,” was also written on a board where students were able to voice their own personal struggles.

Another booth had students presenting facts on international students and what they have had to undergo due to the budget crisis. Angelia Wijaya, an international student, is one of the students who has struggled with the limited resources being offered on campus.

“I personally had to pay about $10,000 this semester,” she said. “International students can’t even work outside of school, get student loans or financial aid.”

To her, the booth and the event served to inform other students who may not be aware of what international students have to deal with, especially when it came to the issues that separate them from other students. Not only are they dealing with the budget crisis, but they also have to jump through other hurdles.

Another booth offered students the opportunity to write or even call an assembly representative and sign petitions. The booth had written letters to senators signed by students that would later be delivered personally by C.O.S.T. Students could also sign a petition in support of Assembly Bill 656, which would allocate money to California State University and University of California campuses, as well as community colleges.

David Bryan, a communications major, said it was the deaf studies students who sparked the idea for the coalition.

“We had deaf students in our classes with no interpreters, and it was upsetting for other students to see this,” he said.

This served as the breaking point for Picarelli and other professors to ask students how this affects them and what actions they wanted to take.

“After the fifth time no interpreter showed up, we couldn’t have class anymore,” Picarelli said. “Students decided they wanted to do something about it.”

The students responded by forming C.O.S.T., which hopes to be more than just a CSUN club. It hopes to be an umbrella group for anyone who cares about the subject, Picarelli said.

CSUN has already held past events that bring light to the budget cuts issue, but in different ways. “Vent at the Tent,” an event sponsored by the California Faculty Association that invited faculty, staff and students to tape their frustrations on the budget cuts to be sent to Sacramento, had students show their anger and let their thoughts out, but it offered no solutions, she added.

One of the booths had a poster that read, “At what C.O.S.T. will you stay silent?” It reflected one of the organization’s goals: to get students to not only be angered by the budget crisis, but for them to go out to events such as the carnival and make a change.