SQE Sends Message to BOT and Fellow Students: It Is Time For Action

At the January 26, 2016 Board of Trustees meeting, the BOT discussed a”sustainability report” that proposes annual tuition increases and the increased privatization of the CSU. SQE members spoke out against the BOT’s attacks on public higher education, and called on faculty and fellow students to take action and fight for the right to free higher education. The full text of our statement is below.

To the California Faculty Association:

We, the students of the California State University (CSU), stand in solidarity with our faculty as they fight for 5% because we understand that “faculty teaching conditions are student learning conditions.” More profoundly, we understand that both students and faculty are seen as exploitable and marginal actors before the Board of Trustees (BOT) as we struggle to reclaim and democratize the CSU system. For this reason, we ask the CSU faculty to support us, their students, as we push forward with our campaign for a free quality public education in the state of California. We ask faculty and the CFA to reject any and every proposal put forth by the BOT that would increase fees and tuition on students and cutbacks to our education. The state of California has the 7 th largest economy in the world, with the CSU system being state’s largest employer. We know that the CSU budget has increased over the last year. And we, students, faculty and staff, also know through first-hand experience that this money has not been distributed fairly or democratically. In fact, within the first year of increasing the CSU budget the BOT voted to increase executive salaries by 2% and lifted the administrative salary cap, whilst denying hard working faculty a modest 5% increase. It should be noted that the majority of the members of the BOT make upwards of $200,000, with Chancellor Timothy White making more that the president of the United States. The problem at the CSU is not a lack of funding but a lack of priorities: neither faculty nor students are a priority in the eyes of the BOT, much less the quality of education that is being administered in the classroom. We understand that in an age of neoliberal policies that have weakened unions, privatized social goods, and have led to consistent cutbacks in education, to demand a free quality public education might be viewed as “radical,” but we believe it is just. Article 26 of the United Nations charter declares that “Everyone has the right to education.” It is time that we assert this right, UNITED!

To the Black, African American brothers and sisters of the CSU:

The assault on your community and your right to self-determination has persisted since the first person was stolen from the shores of Africa. That assault continues to be perpetuated today by many, if not most, of America’s institutions. The CSU is one of those systems. Access to education has consistently been denied to peoples of African descent since the beginning of chattel slavery in the Americas. Indeed, the status quo has always feared an educated Black and African American population. This denial continues to this day, and the CSU system is one of those purveyors. The last 30 years has witnessed a dramatic decrease in the Black and African American student population throughout the CSU system as well as the University of California (UC) system, whilst the Black and African American prison population has increased dramatically among the prison population. The  United States now accounts for 25% of the world’s prison population, the majority of which are of African descent. The end of affirmative action, cutbacks to education, and the rise of the prison industrial complex in the state of California have all contributed to this decrease. Furthermore, the lack of diverse faculties and consistent increases in tuition/fees have only served to disenfranchise and marginalize students of African descent.

To our fellow cohorts and comrades of the CSU:

We, the students, have been consistently patronized by the BOT for our belief that education is a human right, and therefore, should be free and accessible to all those who pursue it. We have been consistently belittled by those in power for believing that we should not have to sign away our future to fund our education today. If education is a human right, it is safe to assume that those in power do not see us as humans, but as commodities, customers and consumers to be exploited. We have been kept out of the decision-making process and forced to accept policies that we do not agree with and that do not promote student success by any means. Cutbacks to our education and increases in tuition and fees DO NOT promote student success. They hinder our progress and it burdens our load. Any cutbacks and proposed tuition/fee increases should be viewed as an assault and affront to our livelihood, our dignity, and our right to determine our future. We call upon our cohorts, our comrades, our classmates, to begin mass mobilizations for a student strike to demonstrate not only to the BOT but the rest of the nation, that we students have the potential to build true political power.