The Alliance For The CSU held a phone and fax marathon during UU hour Thursday, protesting a $386 million cut in funding to the CSU system scheduled to be included in the governor’s “May Revise” 2008-09 state budget.
“Any money that gets put into the CSU system comes back four-fold, after about a five-year turnaround,” said Rich Saenz, chair of the physics department and president of the Cal Poly branch of the California Faculty Association (CFA).
“It’s more of an investment than anything else, so we’re asking people to contact the governor’s office and the state legislature to make their voices heard.”
The marathon was part of a CSU-wide effort in which almost every campus had Alliance representatives present with cell phones and petitions to contact their respective state officials.
Some campuses, such as CSU Dominguez Hills, are spreading phone bank and petitioning activities over several days in order to maximize both support and cognizance over the cuts in funding.
The impact of the campaign has caused the governor’s offices in Los Angeles and Sacramento to turn off the office’s voicemail and fax machines, according to a press release.
Those who knew the Alliance’s cause were quick to voice their disapproval of the governor’s proposed cuts.
“Higher education is obviously going to suffer if these cuts go through,” said Tom Attias, a Cal Poly facilities employee and graphic communications alumnus. “Cutting funding isn’t what made this state great, especially when it’s going to adversely affect high school and college-age kids.”
“It seems like a pretty ridiculous way to make ends meet for the budget to be workable,” agrees Adrian Herrera, an aerospace engineering senior. “I was already going to write the governor, so I’m glad that they’re out here making people aware.”
The $386 million cut would drop the total budget for the CSU system to just over $7.1 billion, and would amount to about a five percent cut in overall funding. Opponents of the cut note that further reductions in funding to the CSU system could lead to more than 10,000 students being turned away from CSU colleges, as well as increase current students’ fees and class sizes.
“I have a kid in college right now, and I have a couple more who are going to be there pretty soon, so it’s definitely a concern,” Attias said. “What’s so contradictory is that the business leaders in this country call for an educated workforce, but this is (the workforce) – the ones who can’t pay for college themselves have a hard time getting loans because loan companies are defaulting, and now are going to have to pay higher fees.”
The Alliance also pointed out that for every dollar the state puts into the CSU system, $4.41 comes back as economic activity in the community where the school is located. In addition, CSU schools contribute $7 billion each year to the state economy, according to the CSU system’s website.
“The CSU is the solution, not the problem,” said Lillian Taiz, president of the CFA and a history professor at Cal State Los Angeles, in a press release. “We hope that by communicating with the governor, he will reconsider his proposal.”