Below is a letter to the Trustees and community allies who showed up for students at the March 22 Board of Trustees meeting. For any media inquiries about SQE’s next steps in the fight for free, accessible, quality higher education, please contact Courtney Yamagiwa at (530) 640-1827
Dear Trustee Simon, Trustee Abrego, Trustee Morales, Trustee Faigan, Trustee M. White, Speaker Rendon, Superintendent Torlakson, Lieutenant Governor Newsom, and our community allies:
Students for Quality Education thanks you for your support and commitment to higher education as a human right!
On Wednesday, March 22nd, hundreds of students and our allies from the US’s largest university system, in the world’s 5th largest economy, descended onto the Chancellor’s office in Long Beach, California. We were there to demonstrate our unwavering opposition to tuition increases, and support for a fully-funded California State University system. Unfortunately, the Board of Trustees elected to take the side of billionaires, out-of-touch politicians, and the status quo. They defied opposition from students, faculty, community members, and fellow Trustees, who argued the board should vote down the increase, and instead pressure the state to come up with more public support. They defied our plea to avoid digging into students’ pockets as a bandaid-fix for this much larger problem. In the end, the Board voted 8-11 to increase our tuition by 5% for the 2017-18 school year.
But you all stood with us, in both your words and your actions, adding to the power of our collective voice. We want to acknowledging the 8 Trustees who voted with students and spoke out during the meeting on our behalf. We also want to highlight the powerful solidarity expressed from a large variety of community groups and social justice organizations that advocated on behalf of students in the CSU. These included the California Faculty Association, Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, Fight for $15, the National Council for Higher Education, Anakbayan–USA, the CSU Employees Union, the California State Student Association, and countless community members all of whom physically showed up to fight the tuition increase. Whether it was the CFA tying student access to the economization of the CSU, BLM speaking truth to power on the continued disrespect and disenfranchisement of black lives within the CSU, Fight for $15 highlighting the entanglement of access to higher education with declining & stagnant labor conditions, students from Anakbayan–USA illustrating the global ties and calls for solidarity amongst students everywhere, the CSUEU pointing out the declining quality of student services and their intersection with retaining working students, or even our own student representatives who fiercely opposed the tuition increase from the floor of the meeting; you all contributed to what amounts to a historic day in higher education.
Increasing tuition, as student Trustee Maggie White so eloquently noted, will close the door to higher education for even more prospective students in the State of California. Over the past decades, the CSU has been the victim of explicit financial neglect and disinvestment by the State of California. That is why, SQE along with its allies, pleaded with the Board of Trustees to stand with students, vote down the tuition increase, and signal to the Legislature that enough is enough. While we may have lost this battle, we accomplished a number of victories that demonstrate the powerful potential of this movement, including the fact that up until this vote, tuition increase votes have largely been unanimous. Our voices are starting to be heard, our organizing is working, and the fight continues. For the first time in decades, California is beginning a conversation about debt-free higher education throughout its universities. Students across the state, the country, and the globe are rising. We will no longer accept a complacent and out of touch CSU administration. The people of California overwhelmingly support repairing our broken higher education system, so now it’s time for our leaders to fall in line.
SQE is taking this fight to Sacramento in the coming weeks, and we will continue to depend on your amazing support, the support of the students and the people to keep this movement going!
Students for Quality Education