Since California Congressman Brad Sherman, whose district includes CSUN, first took office, he expanded his national platform to include the university on his agenda of initiatives and proposals.
Sherman, D–27th District, said that CSUN is the center of the San Fernando Valley in many ways. He said he views the university as a useful tool of research because of the studies being done on the area, from geography to sociology to economics.
“Cal State Northridge is also important in terms of the people that are educated that go on to become the leaders and citizens of the San Fernando Valley,” Sherman said.
Sherman said he is a strong supporter of offering help to college students in the form of financial aid, grants and student loans. He co-sponsored more than seven education bills to further fund students and university facilities.
The U.S. House of Representatives is currently working on a project to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.
The bill was presented to the House Education Committee and will be presented to the full House of Representatives this fall. Entitled The College Access and Opportunity Act of 2005 HR 609, the bill would increase federal Pell Grants for eligible students and make an effort to simplify student aid applications.
The reauthorization of the Higher Education Act will be in place for six years.
“As Congress prepares to renew major education legislation later this year, I will work to increase the maximum Pell Grant to $5,800 per year,” Sherman said in a speech concerning education in June.
Despite Sherman’s efforts, the Republican House majority defeated the amendment that would have increased the scholarship by $500 throughout the next five years.
Sherman’s efforts to secure $271,000 in funding to update CSUN’s tram system have been applauded by CSUN administrators. The funds were secured as part of the reauthorization of the federal transportation bill.
John Chandler, CSUN spokesperson, said Sherman and his staff have been helpful to the university in the securing of the funding procured so far. The project is part of the much larger campus draft master plan, Envision 2035, the projected construction and modernization efforts the university will pursue in the next 30 years.
“They’ve committed to help us acquire more funding for transit,” Chandler said.
Michael Tou, an aide to Sherman, approached CSUN last year asking for transportation projects that Sherman could pursue as earmarks for the campus, according to Dorena Knepper, director of governmental affairs at CSUN.
CSUN initially requested $500,000 for two projects: the tram system and a special project involving the construction of a transit center on campus. The transit center never made it to the reauthorization bill, according to Knepper, and the tram service was eventually given the $271,000 sum.
Sherman is also currently supporting two bills that were recently presented to the House International Relations Committee that would encourage the United States to call on Turkey to acknowledge the slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in the early 20th century.
CSUN has a large Armenian student population, and the Armenian Student Association held several large-scale events in Spring 2005 in remembrance of the Armenian genocide.
Sherman said that both of the resolutions are opposed by the Bush administration, but added that it is important for these resolutions to be heard and acted upon.
“Denial is the last step in a genocide,” Sherman said.
Sherman has been invited by CSUN and volunteered to offer commencement speeches at the university repeatedly since 2000.
“Each year six In a 2002 commencement address to graduates of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Sherman reiterated many times the questioning phrase, “Just because it can be done, should it be done?”
“He has been a true friend to the university,” Chandler said.
Chris Daines can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Editorial contributed to this report.