With tuition costs climbing steadily and state funding for public higher education being slashed, students are paying more every year to complete their degrees.
A new group, the Cal Poly Recolution of Education Club, hopes to raise $30,000 to travel across the country and educate college students about the role they can play in how much they pay.
Economics junior Philip Chen is the president of the club.
He said the name of the club is not a typo, but rather a statement on its mission. Though they wanted to start a movement, Chen said he wasn’t pleased with the word. So they came up with “Recolution” instead — a blend of revolution and reconstruction.
“First of all, students need to educate themselves on what exactly is happening,” Chen said. “Why is our tuition going up? We need to find ways to fill that gap between state funding and what we pay. Right now, students are making uninformed decisions.”
The club hopes to leave for their road trip in Fall 2012. The trip, which has been mapped out at 10,271.9 miles, will start at UCLA and travel as far as University of Maine, Orono, before returning to Cal Poly. The road trip, which the group plans to complete in a recreational vehicle, will take them to more than 40 campuses.
Though the club had their first official meeting just two weeks ago, they have already managed to elect six officers and to snag their first corporate sponsor, StudentMentor.org. The site is designed to match college students with professionals who can serve as role models.
The Recolution of Education Club is now trying to rally support from fellow students, as well as find additional financial backers.
For Chen and his fellow officers, reductions in state funding are something every student should be concerned about.
“The average college student leaves school with over $25,000 in student loan debt,” Chen said. “Students end up chained to their debt after school. The model of funding for public higher education is completely flawed.”
Economics freshman and Recolution of Education Club treasurer Stefan Hall echoed Chen’s statement.
“What we’re doing is raising awareness about the crisis of economics in public education as a whole,” Hall said. “It’s a problem both statewide and nationally.”
Neither he nor Chen are alone in this thought.
A November 2011 Public Policy Institute of California survey found that “six in 10 Californians say the state’s higher education system is headed in the wrong direction” while “three-fourths say there is not enough state funding for higher education.”
The same report also found that 63 percent of Californians believe the quality of higher public education will suffer if further cuts are made on the state level.
Economics professor and club adviser Eric Fisher said the club existed mainly due to Chen’s perseverance.
“(Chen) put all of this together,” Fisher said. “He’s a go-getter kind of guy. He came up with the funny name himself.”
Fisher, who considers himself a “tough guy” advisor, said this is the kind of high-minded goal he encourages his students to set for themselves.
“I always tell my students that a person’s reach should exceed their grasp,” Fisher said. “I am going to be surprised if he can raise all that money, but if he does, I take my hat off to him.”