SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Over 1,000 students and faculty from across the state were brought together Wednesday morning to protest California Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget for CSU schools.
Many students arrived at the state capital Tuesday evening, taking long bus rides and spending the night at The Table at Central United Methodist Church, sleeping on the floor.
A silent march began outside of the Governor’s Mansion at 6:30 a.m., with tape over protesters mouths in an effort to remain in compliance with the city’s noise ordinance.
They protesters marched back and forth silently, encouraging passing drivers to honk and cheer.
Students held picket signs that read, “Fund the Dream” and “Free the CSU.”
— Lauren Jennings (@lolojennings) April 4, 2018
Griselda Aguirre, a junior at Cal State Fullerton and first-generation college student, said she realized how important it is to stay informed after going to an immigration fair for her family members.
“It made me realize there’s so much work to do, which is good, because I want to be (utilized). Education is so important. If you don’t know, how can you advocate for something?” Aguirre said. “For me, this means everything.”
The purpose of the march was to ask Brown for more CSU funding after the release of what the California Faculty Association and Students for Quality Education said was an unreasonably low 2018-19 budget offer.
The governor proposed $92.1 million in additional funding for next year’s CSU budget. The state’s funding currently covers around half of all CSU’s cost, leaving the rest up to students to pay through tuition.
Antionette Saddler, a Cal State Los Angeles senior and member of Students for Quality Education, the Black Student Union and Black Lives Matter LA chapter said the CSU is receiving less funding as it becomes more diverse.
Saddler’s reasons for marching are both political and personal. She marched with a sign that read, “I lost my brother to this system. Don’t let my education be next,” referring to the death of her brother, Angel Ramos, in 2017 after a Vallejo police officer shot and killed him.
“They have focused on making these campuses so damn professional, they forget to ensure that students can afford to stay because we know the more they build up, the more they take out of our pockets,” Saddler said.
At 7 a.m. the demonstrators were allowed to make noise and began chanting “No cuts, no fees, education should be free” and “Education not deportation.” Students used makeshift drums, vuvuzelas, hand clappers and whistles to make noise.
Cal State Fullerton students join other CSU students from all over California for the #FundTheDream rally led by California Faculty Association and Student’s for Quality Education. pic.twitter.com/5EZdKyTdIR
— Diane Ortiz (@diane_ortiz_) April 4, 2018
Riley McDougall, a senior at CSUF, said that at 30 years old he’s only able to afford being a part-time student due to high tuition fees.
“I know the governor has a lot of decisions (to make). He was able to get us the surplus, yet he put it for the ‘rainy-day fund’ but I think it should go to education because there are lots of state programs that are very important,” McDougall said.
Gregory Christopher Brown, president of the California Faculty Association Fullerton chapter and associate professor of criminal justice at CSUF, said he wants additional funding for the CSU and the immediate end to increasing fees.
“We hope it gets their attention,” Christopher Brown said. “We (have) the majority of students of color now and funding has decreased as the student population of color has increased and it needs to stop now.”
— Diane Ortiz (@diane_ortiz_) April 4, 2018
The CSU is enrolling and graduating more students than ever before. However, over the last 25 years, state support per student in the CSU system has declined, according to the 2018-19 CSU budget update.
Following the governor’s conference, California Faculty Association said the sum was not sufficient and proposed a counter increase of $422.6 million.
Starting at noon, Chancellor P. Timothy White and trustees Rebecca Eisen and Lateefah Simon spoke to CSU students, faculty and staff at the capitol building to show their support.
Sacramento residents also joined the demonstration at the capitol watching and chanting with the protestors. The final state budget will be released in June.
“Fixing education is the core of solving all the other problems. So, the more educated people we get going to school and finishing school, the better our society,” McDougall said.