Student Fee Hike Protest In Sacramento Draws 1,000

This story was written by Jacqueline Johnston , Daily Californian
More than 1,000 people from across California, including UC students, gathered at the steps of the state capitol in Sacramento to protest the state's proposed student fee increases that would accompany the state's proposed budget cuts.

Students and administrators from the UC system, the CSU system and community college system marched up to the capitol building carrying signs and chanting slogans to demonstrate against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed 10 percent cuts to all state agencies.

While Schwarzenegger proposed the cuts in order to offset the state's projected $16 billion deficit, the UC system would be cut a net total of $109 million under his proposed budget, resulting in a budget that is $417.4 million less than the university had requested of the state.

The protest featured a variety of speakers, including state Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, and ASUC External Affairs Vice President Danny Montes.

About 15 UC Berkeley students attended the protest.

Montes said fee hikes would have detrimental effects on many aspects of students' lives.

"People are going to think about how to pay for rent, how to pay for textbooks, how to pay for the necessities that you need to go to college," Montes said. "People shouldn't have to leave higher education with debt, but unfortunately that is the case for a lot of students."

Montes added that it was unfair for student fees to increase in order to help the state cope with its budget crisis.

"The amount of money that they're charging us is going up, but the level of education is staying the same."

The UC Board of Regents are considering a 7 to 10 percent student fee increase at their May meeting. Ad: Daily Cal News Blog

While students protested outside the capitol, many student leaders met individually with elected officials to try to persuade them against the cuts. Jammie Jelks, a member of the California State Student Association, said he did not think that his meeting was effective.

"I don't think we got our point across," Jelks said after meeting with State Senator Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks. "They didn't really want to know how we felt. They were having a meeting just because they had to ... but they weren't really trying to see what we had to say."

Osazee Edebiri, president of the student government at Cal State Chico, said he is worried the budget cuts could negatively impact social mobility, as the fee hikes could hurt underrepresented students' chances of obtaining a college degree.

"I know so many people who, when they get higher education, it changes their lives," Edebiri said. "They go from being criminals to being people that represent our state well."

Many students expressed worry over the upward trend of the price of a college education in California.

"My sister is four years old now and I can't even imagine what school will be like when she's old enough to go to college," said Vanessa Woodward, a senior at Cal State Channel Islands. "I want to do something now so she has a future."
© 2008 Daily Californian via U-WIRE