In a few weeks California Law makers will be voting on the future of higher education and California. Currently the proposed budget cuts $1.4 billion from higher education, and is broken down to $500 million for the CSUs and UCs respectively and $400 billion for the community colleges.
To make the situation worse, this budget projection assumes law makers will approve tax extensions. If these extensions fail to get on the June ballot to allow voters to decide for themselves, we can see another round of cuts doubling the amount for the CSU system.
How does this budget affect Fresno State? As one of the 23 campuses in the CSU system, our share of the $500 billion is estimated at $20 million. We can expect reduced services and classes for students, hiring freezes of new staff positions and a halt of unneeded maintenance to facilities. Students also should be prepared for a fee increase in the coming months that mirror the summer 2009 increases.
To paraphrase State Controller John Chiang, the state of California will most likely try to balance its budget on the backs of the students that attend the UC, CSU and Community College systems. Given that this is a group known for its lack of political activism, this should not come as a surprise; the relative risk when elections come back is low. Polls have shown repeatedly that Californians see education as one of their top priorities, yet our lack of motivation and tenacity has seen this desire derailed.
But we don’t have to take things as they are handed to us. Let’s remember our recent victories and build from them. Last year, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger witnessed how students mobilized to preserve higher education and restored funding to the CSU system in his last budget. We still have time to make a difference, and here’s the first step:
On March 14, 2011, an estimated 20,000 students from across the state will have the opportunity to march and rally in Sacramento to show their support for higher education. It has been proven that money spent on education boosts the economy and improves communities.
If we students expect our concerns to be addressed, we must come to the realization that this will only become a reality when they have the persistence to stand up for what we believe to be right, and to weather the frustrations and setbacks that are all too common in the political system.
We encourage all students to join us on March 14, 2011, to march in Sacramento for higher education, and we remind everyone that this is just one step of many that we must take. Associated Students Inc. will be taking students to the event; those interested should sign up in the ASI Business Office, Room USU 317.
The political process represents many interests, and it will gladly ignore those that don’t speak up.
Pedro Ramirez is a political science and agricultural economics major and president of ASI.
Jaime Andrés Moncayo is a political science major and Senator of Legislative Affairs of ASI.