Students protest fees, budget

    Hundreds of students from San Diego colleges and universities, joined by middle and high school students, gathered at San Diego City College and marched to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s San Diego District Office as part of a statewide day of protest on April 20.

    Kaia Lai
    Fee rally:

    Rallying against rising costs of education and Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget, approximately 70 UCSD students joined the crowd along with those from San Diego State University, San Diego City College, Cal State San Marcos and various other city and community colleges that marched through downtown streets.

    “We are at the governor’s office to let him know that you cannot continue to tax students,” A.S. Vice President External Rigo Marquez said. “Any way you put it, raising our fees equals taxation.”

    According to Eleanor Roosevelt College sophomore Anh To, the protest was necessary because it is students who bring about change.

    “[The protest] might not lead to results, but as a student, I have to do what I can,” To said. “At a minimum, I want recognition from the school that there is a problem with student fees. At most, I hope that they do not raise fees.”

    SDSU Associated Students Vice President External Jarad Sanchez said that the rally was meant to put pressure on the Legislature to fund Proposition 98, which would provide more state money for public schools and the community.

    “We have a number of things happening,” Sanchez said. “We are doing joint lobby visits, writing letters to legislators, and organizing other campus events to ensure that people are aware of what is going on.”

    During the protest that took place in the street, student leaders from each campus met with San Diego Field Office Director Cameron Durckel. After the meeting, Campus Organizing Director and Vice President External-elect Kevin Mann said that the meeting with Durckel was unusual.

    “We heard some very interesting things,” Mann said. “The first thing we asked him was if the state believes that education is a right for all students. They said they thought that education was a right for [kindergarten through grade 12], but not for higher education.”

    Both Durckel and Schwarzenegger’s press offices declined to comment, saying that it was a closed meeting, and referred all questions to the California Department of Finance. According to the Deputy Director of External Affairs H.D. Palmer, the governor has made a commitment to higher education.

    “The governor has made it very clear that higher education is an integral part of the state,” Palmer said. “At a time when California has to close a budget gap of $9 billion, the governor’s budget fully reflects the compact [between Schwarzenegger and state universities].”

    Palmer also said that the compact calls for an increase of more than $76 million for basic budget support and $36 million for enrollment growth, while also placing a cap on the rate that student fees can increase.

    Many students, however, said that they are not comforted by the cap. Marquez said that he attended a community college for two years in order to lower the costs of education, but that he will still have a large amount of debt when he graduates in July.

    “We will not stand for the increases,” Marquez said. “Screw the compact. I’m fed up that we have to miss class just to fight to make education accessible.”

    Despite student opposition to the fee increases outlined in the compact, it is unlikely that the rally will lead to change, according to UC Office of the President spokeswoman Ravi Poorsina.

    “The compact is what has saved us from having to cut enrollment,” Poorsina said. “Both the governor and the UC president have compromised in a way that everyone would have to shoulder some of the responsibility. Unfortunately, the students are feeling the burden. The bottom line is that we never like fee increases, but if you look at the state’s fiscal situation, we are very reliant on the state for our funding.”

    Marquez and Mann said that they will continue to lobby against student fee increases and for the protection of outreach funding. In addition, they said that they plan on another student campaign when the budget revisions are released in May.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $210
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $210
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal