CSUMB students protest threat of fees despite passage of Prop. 30.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
“Fewer classes, higher fees, CSU is run by thieves,” came the chants of students rallying in front of California State University, Monterey Bay’s library Nov. 13.
Because of the passage of Proposition 30, students have been saved from a years-long series of budget cuts to the beleaguered CSU system. But that may not be enough to stop increasing fees.
CSU trustees are still eying additional student fees, which they argue would motivate students to graduate on time. But a day before their meeting, trustees postponed discussion of the plan.
Higher fees for thousands of “super seniors,” who have taken more credits than the average four-year load, would push them to graduate and allow new students to fill their spots, university officials argue. At CSUMB, 107 of more than 5,000 students fall into super-senior status.
The CSU system is also looking to place fees on extra classes students take, and on classes that students have to repeat, which university officials expect to free up tens of thousands of seats.
For students like Jessica Stroh, a CSUMB junior who works nearly full-time at a hardware store, new fees mean an additional financial burden. Because Stroh changed majors early in college, she’s worried she might end up a super-senior, taking more units than what’s needed to graduate.
“If you went to college, you know half your friends changed their major,” she says.
Other students say because they often have to wait a semester or more to take the classes they need for their majors (and are required by financial aid or housing reasons to take a minimum number of credits), they’re racking up credits and getting pushed toward super-senior territory.
“My assumption is the [trustees’] policy… would give a certain amount of leeway for people who change majors or take a few extra classes,” CSUMB spokesman James Tinney says.
Rallies at campuses across the state seem to have worked, for now. About 50 people gathered at the CSUMB campus beating buckets and waving signs, one of which bluntly stated, “Fuck the Fees.”
“We feel like our voices have been heard, but we’re gonna keep putting pressure on them,” says Ayanna Blount, a 19-year-old junior who attended the rally with streaks of CSUMB blue slashed across her cheeks.
Overall, 18,000 new students could be admitted to the CSU system if the fee increases pass.
Meanwhile, CSUMB administrators say they’re thrilled at the passage of Prop. 30, which also allows the school to refund a tuition increase from this fall.
“We’ve averted a trainwreck, but that doesn’t get us off the hook,” says CSUMB interim President Eduardo Ochoa.
The CSU system is set to pay students about $130 million in refunds, which it hopes will be reimbursed by the Legislature.