Students voice concerns to university presidents about tuition increase, veterans facility

Joe Castagna, electrical engineering power systems and mechanical engineering major, as well as a Gulf War veteran, said that he has gone out of his way to help other veterans. Castagna attended the Town Hall Meeting to ask the presidents to approve a room that would help veterans with all aspects of their experience at CSUN. Photo Credit: Paul Kingsley / Photo Editor

The annual budget concerns dominated the Presidents’ Town Hall Meeting Tuesday as students and faculty were able to voice their worries to A.S. President Conor Lansdale, CSUN President Jolene Koester and Faculty President Steven Stepaneck.

Senator Jordan Lopez, College of Education, asked Koester to explain the future of the budget and tuition.

Koester said the Board of Trustees took action to increase fees.

Koester also addressed action made by the CSU in attempts to help students reduce their cost.

“They also asked that the state buy out that 10 percent fee increase so that students wouldn’t have to pay,” Koester said.

She added that what is certain is that the board has acted to approve the 10 percent fee increase for  the next academic year.

“What is not certain is whether or not the state of California will pay the CSU for those dollars or whether or not students individually and collectively will pay,” Koester said.

Budgetary issues were also raised when Joe Castagna, electrical engineering power systems and mechanical engineering major, brought up the issue of a veteran facility on campus.

“What these civilians do not understand is that the veteran will move at his own speed,” Castagna said. “The veteran will ask for help from someone who has already been through the system and knows what to do.”

Castagna said that with the many organizations such as A.S. and USU, as well as multi-level departments, no one has been able to get the action done.

“All I am asking for is a room,” Castagna said. “And in that room what we’re doing is taking all the flyers that they hand out, all the information that they hand out, and we’re allowing other veterans to meet in a specific location.”

Castagna said he understands there are always budget concerns when starting a new location and offered his services in helping clear out the existing fitness center.

“You’re going to have to pay some moving company to move all the furniture from the existing facility to the new facility,” Castagna said. “Grant us the room and I will pick up the equipment myself so the university doesn’t have to pay the moving company to do it.”

He said he will always help other veterans.

“Right now I have gone out of my way to volunteer for every veteran,” Castagna said.

He said he is asking Koester and Dr. William Watkins, vice president of student affairs, to approve a room that would help veterans with all aspects of their experience at CSUN.

Castagna said the campus needs a central location where veterans can have a point of contact to refer to for information they need.

“The good news is that there is a student-run process,” Watkins said.

Watkins said he is going to find out for Castagna if a request has already been made for a veteran facility space.

“There’s a process here within the student union for how they review requests for space for a whole host of reasons,” Watkins said.

Lansdale said a veteran’s facility on campus would be a great addition.

“Right now there’s only one person in Bayramian Hall that helps all the veterans,” Lansdale said.

He said there is too much work for one person to handle.

“If they can have it student ran, so that it’s just students talking to other students that are all veterans, answering questions, give them best practices, things that aren’t always written down but kind of understood,” Lansdale said. “I think that’s huge for students to help each other.”