Correction: This article was originally attributed to a Jesse Hayes. It was actually written by Jesse Rodriguez. The article was updated Dec. 14, 2016 at 2:16 p.m.
Everyone has the right to an accessible and affordable education. We live in a time where there are a great amount of issues affecting millions of students. Students tend to struggle financially, mentally and emotionally while pursuing an education in a higher learning institution. If this is the case, why should it get any harder for students to continue pursuing their educational goals? The answer is simple: It shouldn’t.
As a student, it is incredibly difficult to be unaffected by financial troubles while in college. The reality is and will continue to be that many students are being financially crippled. Students are taking out student loans, working two to three jobs at a time and have to be extremely frugal with the way they manage their expenses in order to pay their tuition along with housing, bills and everything else.
On our campus, 55 percent of the students attending are eligible for the Pell Grant and about the same amount (52 percent) receive them. Moreover, in the academic year 2013-2014, 49 percent of the students who graduated from a California State University (CSU), accumulated loan debt for college related expenses in an amount averaging $15,898. Today, students pay an average of $6,698 a year in tuition and the proposed increase is a total of $270 over the course of year, carrying the average to $6,970.
These statistics show that there is a desperate economic need among our students. We can no longer allow for the economic conditions to get harder for our students than they already are.
The Associated Students came together to take a stance on the proposed tuition increase by putting together a resolution. Our student leaders recognized the magnanimous impact this tuition increase could have on our students.
When the Board of Trustees met in mid-November, a student and faculty protest against this potential tuition increase was organized by Students for Quality Education, a student activist group that works with the California Faculty Association to address student concerns on all CSU campuses. This activist group also has a chapter at our campus. Many students came out to let the Board of Trustees know that increasing costs can only hurt students and not bring forth a benefit to students.
It is alarming that a public institution like the CSU is becoming less accessible to students. The CSU was once an extremely affordable educational institution that over the years, has increasingly moved toward privatization with the disguise of a public institution.
The CSU and the state expects its students to graduate in four years but fails to recognize that the continuous increase in tuition and fees slows student progress toward graduation. In particular, the Graduation Initiative of 2025 states that CSU should be graduating students in four years.
The reality of this initiative is that it is counterintuitive when students are being forced to pay more tuition. This means students and their families have to get a second or third job, which leads to less time in school and eventually graduating in five or six years, maybe even more.
Students care about these issues and there’s been a recent shift in our campus climate regarding the various political issues that affect us. Taking an official stance as a student government speaks volumes about the potential we have as both individuals and organizations to make change happen.
The moment we stop talking about the problems that affect us the most, is the moment we become complacent with the way things are. Let’s come together as students and say no to this potential tuition hike.
Written by Jesse Rodriguez, ASI Board of Directors representative, College of Humanities & Social Sciences & Lobby Corps staff.