More than 70 CSUN students led by members of Central American United Student Association, Students for Quality Education and MEChA marched through campus protesting in response to CSUN’s decision to only allow graduating seniors to get permission numbers to add classes.
“I want to see clarity as to what’s going on,” said Osvaldo Ortiz, 22, a member of CAUSA who led the march. “It’s frustrating. We want cooperation from the administration—to actually have a dialogue with students.”
The protest later moved to University Hall where they were addressed outside by Interim President Harry Hellenbrand and acting administrator of academic affairs, William Watkins.
“Clearly some students are going to be frozen out this term and I’m terribly sorry about that, but that’s the situation,” Hellenbrand said to the group.
The decision to halt enrollment was made in order to avoid a possible $7 million penalty from the CSU for exceeding the target enrollment number.
According to Hellenbrand, CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed said that enrolling more students than state funds are allocated for sends a message to the California government that the campus can continue to operate on the current budget, jeopardizing possible increases in state money in the coming semesters.
“I have an argument with Reed about the rational because I don’t think the money is there to be gotten,” Hellenbrand said. “But there is some logic to the rational.”
The CSU is doing everything it can to lobby the state government for more funding, as CSUN has exceeded its target enrollment by 6 percent, said Stephanie Thara, a CSU spokesperson.
“We are working to the best of our ability to provide the services to students that they need to graduate and receive a quality education,” Thara said.
Many students are concerned about their eligibility for financial aid if they are unable to enroll in 12 units. Student housing also requires that students have full-time enrollment, while foreign students here on visa or other exchange programs expressed fears about their residency status during the march.
“If I don’t get 12 units I will get deported,” said student Saad Aldahlawi of Saudi Arabia.
Students associated with MEChA were also distributing a petition during the protest with the goal of applying pressure to the CSU to forgive the $7 million penalty. Petitioner Jessica Cardiel, gender and women’s studies major, said they were looking for 4,000 signatures.
“I’ve been trying to add all the communications classes,” said Senai Andikiel, 22, senior communications major. “I see the seats open, but there’s a cap that the professor can’t go over and they say I can’t have the seat. It’s unfair.”
Watkins assured students that there will be a statement distributed to faculty and students by email to further explain and update the situation. The communication is expected to be released shortly, though no deadline was given.
Watkins said that the possibility of the freeze being lifted before the Feb. 10 enrollment deadline is not likely.
“I don’t imagine that we’re going to just go back to normal unless we decide to take the $7 million penalty,” Watkins said. “But that’s not very responsible in my position.”