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The California State University Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to approve a 2008-09 budget that could increase student fees by 10 percent.

This is an ongoing trend that has resulted in student fees almost doubling in the past five years.

The fee increase is written into the budget to take place if the state does not provide the funds needed. The total budget request was $4.8 billion, which assumes a $322.7 million increase over last year’s budget.

“To a lesser extent (the budget) said, ‘Either give us $70 million or we’re going to have to raise student fees,’” Lt. Gov. John Garamendi said in a teleconference Wednesday.

Garamendi, who is an ex-officio member of the CSU Board of Trustees, voted against the budget proposal and is working on a proposal that would freeze student fees.

He has recently been working to bring this issue to the attention of students and others, and views the UC Regents (who will vote today) and CSU Board of Trustees as giving up on getting public funds.

“Do I know the outcome of this year’s budget?” he said. “No, but I do know that if you throw in the towel before you even get in the ring, you’re going to lose.”

Garamendi is supported by many organizations, including the California Faculty Association.

CFA president Lillian Taiz contrasted the rising student fees to the rising cost of gas; while a gallon of gas costs more, you still get the same amount. However, students are paying more for their education but are not getting more in return, she said.

“Both UC and CSU systems have been spending a fair amount of money on executive salary and executive perks . not the hiring of tenure-track faculty,” she said.

The main concern behind the fee increase was the effect on current and potential students.

Garamendi and Taiz spoke about the privatization of the UC and CSU systems, mainly the trend going toward private funding benefiting private individuals, as opposed to public funds benefiting the public.

“I don’t think it takes rocket science to figure out that every time you increase fees, you discourage people from coming,” Taiz said.

California State Student Association chair Dina Cervantes, a senior at Cal State Northridge, said there isn’t enough understanding of what students go through financially.

“Many students are just over the cusp of what is considered financial aid-worthy and are judged as dependants of their families and receive little support,” she said.

She listed high tuition, textbook and housing prices as some of the issues students are facing.

As a result of underfunding, “morale and environment of the CSU system has really plummeted,” Cervantes said.

UC Student Association member Greg Cendana, a senior at UCLA, is just one example of students who would be greatly affected by this fee increase.

He is a full-time student, works 35 hours a week and is involved in many clubs. He will have $21,000 in debt by the time he graduates. “I’m not alone in my struggle,” he said.

Garamendi wants students to get involved in the fight to stop fee increases. “Organize, organize, demonstrate,” he said.

“This issue is important in the role and purpose of these public institutions being publicly funded.”

He plans to keep his proposition to freeze fees before the UC Regents and Board of Trustees so they “can’t duck the issue . in a way that doesn’t antagonize but persuades,” he said.

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