CSU, UC systems vote to increase fees; diversity, financial concerns raised

first_imgBut news of the hikes left students and faculty even more angry with CSU officials, who have raised fees five times in the last six years. “I think the CSU is riding the backs of students, and it’s hurting the university,” said James David Ballard, president of the California Faculty Association’s CSUN chapter. “It’s excluding students of color, single moms who are struggling to pay for school. It’s excluding all those students who are on the edge of being low-income. It will reduce the diversity of the campus.” California not cheap CSU officials maintain tuition is still more affordable than comparable universities nationwide, including the universities of Connecticut and Wisconsin. But Ballard and others dismiss those comparisons, saying the cost of living in California adds significantly more to a student’s overall bill. “What they don’t say is it’s not just the cost of tuition, but it’s the cost of being a student, the cost of a car, of insurance and utilities, and when we factor all that in, the CSU is not a bargain,” he said. And it also raises the question of how it will affect enrollment, Ballard and others said. While CSUN saw record admissions last fall with more than 34,000 students, Cal State Los Angeles and Cal State Dominguez Hills have seen enrollments fluctuate, according to CSU figures. “Oh hell yeah, I’m concerned,” said Rich Akaramonjkolchai, a sophomore marketing student at CSUN who lives in North Hollywood. “If tuition goes up more, I’m going to think twice about registering for classes. I know it’ll go up sooner or later. … Right now, I’m driving to school. Maybe I’ll have to start taking the bus.” Set to strike The fee hike comes as 1,800 CSUN instructors and staff are set to vote this week whether to strike after nearly two years of stalled contract negotiations and an overall frustration with CSU’s decision to raise student fees while giving a 4 percent pay raise to about two dozen administrators. Strike votes are also being held at the other 22 CSU campuses. CSU officials say the decision to raise salaries for the administrators – who now will earn $239,000 to $377,000 annually – will help retain high-quality executives. But Jendyi Curry, a freshman biology student at CSUN who lives in Santa Clarita, gasped when she learned of the increase. Curry already works at The Gap to pay for tuition but said she could be forced to slow down her hopes of graduating on time if the bill grows larger. “Ten percent? That’s ridiculous!” she said. “If anything, they should be lowering fees. … I might have to get a second job or take less units. This makes it really hard to go to college.” But beyond students picking up an extra shift in the stock room or blending a few extra smoothies at Jamba Juice, Kris Kouri, a lecturer in sociology and women’s studies, said it’s the state as a whole that ultimately loses. “The CSUs are the people’s university,” she said. “When you raise the fees, you’re blocking upward mobility. This is where the working-class kids can study and become middle class.” Diversity concerns Over the hill at UCLA, junior Mohammad Tajsar protested the regents’ meeting with the very same concern. The 20-year-old comparative literature and English major said he feared the hikes would further reduce diversity in a student body he already considers fairly homogenous. “I don’t want my university to be rich, white and suburban,” he said. “We all come from the same place, we’re all from the same background and that’s not representative of California. We’re out of touch with the demographics.” After regents voted early in the afternoon to increase fees, student complaints aroused enough debate that the board took up the discussion a second time. Once again, the board opted to raise tuition, which sent protesters outside, clapping and chanting angrily. Student organizers pledged to pressure legislators to alter the UC budget to prevent the increase from being passed on to students. “I’m really nervous and afraid,” said Narchelle Beasley, 18, a first-year psychology student from Long Beach. “I have financial aid, but the fees take a real toll on my family. All the extra money I’m taking is taking away from my siblings – and it was already too much.” [email protected] (818) 713-3664160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! She’s hardly alone. In addition to CSU, University of California Regents also upped tuition 7 percent Wednesday. The hikes mean undergraduate students attending CSUN and other CSU campuses will pay an extra $252 a year, or a total of $3,451 for a full-time schedule. Students at University of California, Los Angeles, and other UCs will now pay about $7,300 a year. The CSU Board of Trustees said the hike was needed because Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed state budget for the system assumes $123 million in fee revenue, based on a 10 percent increase in student fees and a 2.5 percent enrollment increase. Roberta Achtenberg, CSU board chairwoman, said in a statement that fees also rise to support much-needed faculty salary increases. “The trustees are committed to bringing all salaries up to market rate in order to remain competitive,” she said. NORTHRIDGE – Ebony McKay, a psychology major at California State University, Northridge, will be spending more long nights working – but not on her studies. The 21-year-old junior already receives financial aid to help defray costs at the state college, but not enough to cover tuition. So when the California State University system approved a 10 percent fee hike Wednesday, McKay began considering student loans and longer shifts at her minimum-wage job at the local Target. “All the money goes to school, then to books,” she said. “You barely have anything left over for groceries.” last_img read more