Seven Cal Poly students, including ASI President Tylor Middlestadt, traveled to Long Beach Thursday to participate in a rally to oppose the latest CSU fee increase.

Despite the presence of over 200 students representing all 23 California State Universities, the CSU Board of Trustees voted 13-1 to pass an 8 percent fee increase for 2006. This is the sixth time in five years fees have increased.

Students attending CSUs will now pay $2,724 in statewide fees per year. The $204 increase brings the total to 90 percent more than fees were in 2001.

“We wanted to attend the meeting to have a strong presence to let our trustees know that the state fee increases were getting to be too much,” Middlestadt said.

The lone “no” vote came from Corey Jackson, the student trustee on the Board of Trustees.

Jackson was persuaded to vote against the increase by students in tears, who said they didn’t know what they would do if there was another increase.

“We’re realizing how much the fee increase is hurting our fellow students throughout the state,” Jackson said.

Jackson was also inspired that students from every CSU came to oppose the fee increase.

“It showed students do care and they’re willing to fight the whole year to educate the public on what the state legislature is doing to our system,” he said.

Middlestadt initiated the rally at the special budget meeting for the CSU Board of Trustees by proposing to get representatives from all 23 CSUs to Long Beach in support of Jackson. The motion to coordinate such an event was started in response to an emotional meeting at the last conference of the Cal State Student Association at Humboldt State University.

“We needed to show up because this is an issue that effects every single student,” said Ruthie Osorio, a member of the ASI Board of Directors and an attendee of the rally. “Everyone has to pay fees.”

Supporters of the fee increase argue that CSUs need the money to ensure a quality education, Middlestadt said.

“We knew we weren’t going to stop the fee increase. Honestly, we didn’t really want to because we knew we needed that revenue,” said Middlestadt who commented on how the students used the meeting as chance to lobby for more funding.

“But, we also knew if we didn’t start advocating for the budget early on, we were just shooting ourselves in the foot,” he said.

The students who attended the rally aren’t done fighting.

The event marks the beginning of a long year of fighting for higher education. Students have plans to continue lobbying in Sacramento to get legislators to prioritize the CSU system.

“Although we didn’t accomplish anything tangible by going to this meeting, it really unified the students of California,” said Darcy Kinney a forestry junior, who also attended the rally.

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