CSU Students Are Starving For Education

Tatevik Manucharyan, El Vaquero Staff Writer

At least 13 students from six CSU campuses — Dominguez Hills, Fullerton, Long Beach, Sacramento, San Bernardino and Northridge — have gone on a hunger strike on May 2.

The strike came in response to the CSU spring admission freezes, tuition fee hikes, faculty and staff layoffs and the recent 10 percent salary increase for two CSU executive officials: CSU Fullerton president Mildred García will earn $324,500 a year, and the salary of CSU East Bay president Leroy Morishita will be $303,660 after the 10 percent raise.

The strikers are demanding the following from the CSU Board of Trustees: a five-year moratorium on student fee hikes, the elimination of all 23 campus presidents’ housing and car allowances, the reversal of administrative and executive salaries to 1999
levels, and the extension of freedom of speech areas to include entire campuses.

According to the “Housing and Automobile Allowances” report on the CSU Executive Compensation Web page, nine presidents and the CSU Chancellor are provided with university housing, five presidents receive an annual housing allowance of $50,000, and eight presidents receive an annual allowance of $60,000.

The report only mentions the allowances for 22 out of the 23 presidents.

In addition, all presidents and executives, who do not use a university vehicle, get a $12,000 annual automobile allowance.

On the student side, tuition in CSU campuses has increased by more than 300 percent in the past decade. Students were faced with a 12 percent fee hike in fall 2011 and will have to deal with an additional 9 percent increase this fall.

The on-campus group Students for Quality Education organized the hunger strike. The aim of the group, founded in 2007-2008 by CSU students, is “to build the student movement for educational rights in public higher education.”

The students were forced to resort to this drastic measure after all other attempts of voicing their concerns to CSU officials and lawmakers failed.

“CSU students have fought back against budgets cuts to education and we’ve tried just about everything you can think to prevent the dismantling of our public university system,” said Donnie Besson, a graduate student at CSU Long Beach, in a California Faculty Association news release.

“We’ve lobbied our state legislators, we’ve mobilized thousands to our state capitol, and we’ve presented new strategies to our board of trustees so that we can change the course and try efficient alternatives.”

The hunger strike followed the May 2 announcement by the California Faculty Association — a union of 23,000 California State University professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches — that its members have voted to authorize a two-day strike at all 23 CSU campuses.

The strike will take place if the CSU Chancellor’s Office and CFA fail to reach an agreement on their labor contract negotiations.

It would be the first-ever Cal State system-wide strike.

“The strike vote could produce a shut down in the fall of the nation’s largest public university system, which would be the largest strike in the history of American higher education,” wrote Joseph Palermo, CSU Sacramento associate professor of history, in the Huffington Post.