CSU Anti-Arnold Campaign Launched

ASHLEY EVANS
The State Hornet
Sacramento State University

With rising tuition, California Faculty Association members are taking action by launching a campaign against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The campaign started on Sept. 18 and will end on Oct. 18. Participants are expected to either create a 30-second anti-Arnold video or an anti-Arnold website that shows how Gov. Schwarzenegger’s education policies have failed the state and its schools.

The campaign, titled “Flunk Arnold,” is open to all registered California State University students, with no restrictions on grade level or minimum grade point average.

“We feel that any student who wants to contribute and share their point of view should be able to, you must be in good standing though,” said Cecil Canton, president of Sacramento State’s faculty association chapter.

CSU students will vote for the winners. Each student will have one opportunity to vote in the first and final rounds.

Two winners will be chosen, one for best video and one for the most creative website, and each will receive one year’s tuition of $2,520.

The video winner will have his or her video played as an advertisement during Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show,” but only in California. The union will pay for the advertisement and it will not be aired on the actual show, Canton said.

While the advertisement and the money are extra incentives, the campaign is important because it gets students involved and can help inform potential voters, Canton said.

“The bottom line is that students are being affected by what’s going on and very directly at that,” Canton said. “We believe that students are very influential in this process, that really, the power is held by the students. What we’re trying to do is to help them try to understand how to exert that power. We want to give them a forum and a way to get their voices out there in some way.”

Under Schwarzenegger’s watch, student tuition has gone through the roof, Canton said. Tuition fees alone have gone up 76 percent since he took office in 2003, he added.

The amount of money going toward instruction and pay for staff and faculty has diminished, Canton said. This, along with unfunded mandates and unfunded programs, has led to universities losing full-time professors, having less books in libraries and fewer counselors, Canton said.

Amanda Fulkerson, a spokeswoman from Gov. Schwarzenegger’s camp, said these accusations are not accurate and that education is one of the governor’s top priorities.

Fulkerson said student fees increased 40 percent for CSUs and the Universities of California and 60 percent for community colleges two years before Gov. Schwarzenegger came into office.

“One of the governor’s first priorities when he came into office was to rein in those increases and ensure large spikes in tuition would not happen,” Fulkerson said. “He reached an agreement with the CSU and UC systems to do that. This year, the governor held line on all tuition increases at the CSUs and UCs and decreased community college fees by 23 percent.”

Some Gov. Schwarzenegger supporters claim he has done a lot for higher education.

“I’m sure that there are better candidates out there, but Arnold did way more for the state and schools than (former Gov.) Gray Davis ever did,” junior Katie Rieden said.

“I’m really happy that he didn’t implement the car tax or give illegal immigrants driver’s licenses, and I don’t blame him for the increase in tuition, because it probably would have happened anyway,” Rieden said. “We all tend to blame politicians for everything without really looking at the bigger picture.”

Democratic candidate Phil Angelides’ spokesman, Nick Papas, argues that students have every right to be angered by the increase in tuition.

“Students have a tremendous amount at stake in this election,” Papas said. “Gov. Schwarzenegger has made it more difficult for Californians to go to college and earn a degree. He has made it more expensive and he even said that college tuition fees were too low. Phil Angelides certainly believes differently.”

But Fulkerson said Angelides and his staff have no business commenting on any tuition rate increases.

“Phil Angelides lacks any credibility to talk about college tuition,” Fulkerson said. “The two years before Gov. Schwarzenegger took office, student fees increased…while Phil Angelides stood silent.” The faculty association scheduled two press conferences for the campaign, which were both held last Wednesday _” one in Sacramento State’s University Union and the other at CSU Long Beach.

Senior Robbie Abelon, a government and history double major and student speaker at the event, said the campaign is a jumping-off point for the entire CSU system.

“I feel that the campaign is the first step toward getting the CSU system back on track,” Abelon said. “Hopefully, this will help us get a governor in office who will put education first.”

Other Sac State students said the campaign and speakers were not very persuasive and the campaign itself seems like a smear campaign.

“I agree that tuition has gone up, but there is a lot of construction and other things going on as well,” said junior and business major Noe Garcia. “It just doesn’t seem like Arnold is the one to blame for all these problems.”