Officials, students address proposed CSU cuts
President Corrigan, CFA officials among event speakers
March 18, 2008 2:53 PM
Over 700 SF State faculty and staff members sat alongside students Monday afternoon in McKenna Theatre to listen as faculty union representatives, state Sen. Leland Yee, Associated Student President Claudia Mercado and SF State President Robert A. Corrigan addressed the proposed budget cuts that the California State University faces.
“The current budget crisis presents a great threat to our future,” said Corrigan as he addressed the standing-room only crowd. “We have an opportunity and the obligation to send a message to our state legislature.”
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed a $312.9 million cut to the CSU budget in an effort to cope with an estimated $14 billion deficit in the state budget.
According to Corrigan, SF State is anticipated to fall $25 million short in its annual budget.
“This is a horrible budget year,” said Lillian Taiz, president of the California Faculty Association. “If California residents understand what they’re going to lose, then I believe they’ll step up and support the CSU.”
Corrigan spoke to several reporters outside the Creative Arts building prior to the event, where he addressed the issue of students and faculty members suffering the most from the proposed cuts.
“The government says no tax increases, but the students fee increase is a tax increase for all students,” he said.
To cope with the budget crisis, student fees are predicted to increase 10 percent, he said, adding that cutting the budget of California’s largest university system would have dire consequences for the state economy.
“Our state’s future depends on CSU funding,” Corrigan said.
Each campus in the CSU system is scheduled a “budget teach-in” event, similar to the one that was held at McKenna Theatre on Monday.
“People have been extraordinarily receptive,” said Taiz. “Students, more than anybody, know that fees have doubled, classes have been cut and those that remain are overloaded.”
Sitting in a group near the front of the theater, the New Front Coalition, a student activist group, sported orange arm bands and engaged in sporadic chants of "Students first! Support the students!” as they presented a document encouraging administrators to allocate funding for a student trip to Sacramento to lobby state legislators.
A commitment to fund a student trip to Sacramento was not signed by administrators onstage, citing that financial commitments must be worked through a “democratic process.”
“The CFA is looking forward to working with students,” said Ramon Castellblanch, president of the CFA Chapter at SF State. “But we must vote at an executive board meeting…we have to get any funding approved by the board.”
Jessica Aguilar, a member of the New Front Coalition who attended the event, expressed her frustration over the lack of support by faculty leaders.
“It's easy to say they support our cause,” she said after the event. “But for us to be successful they actually need to do something to support us."
California state Sen. Leland Yee encouraged students to take action to prevent the proposed cuts to the CSU budget.
“Throughout history, it has been young people like you who have stood up for what is right,” he said. “It is time to stand against the cuts and the next generation getting anything less than they deserve.”
A question posed to the onstage panel brought up budget cuts within the College of Ethnic Studies. Kenneth Montero, the dean of the College of Ethnic Studies, came to the front of the theater to address the crowd.
“All colleges are taking their fair share of cuts, but as a smaller college at SF State, budget cutbacks are more apparent within the College of Ethnic Studies,” he said. “It’s not accurate to say the cuts to ethnic studies are disproportional.”
Mercado, the current ASI president, also addressed the crowd and cited her personal experience as a symbol of what the CSU means to the state.
“I have worked two jobs throughout college to keep my parents' dream of raising educated children alive,” she said. “The proposed budget cuts would ruin the dream that is California.”
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