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Students Prepare for Budget Protest

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As LAist and TV/radio reports are noting, students are already gathering today ahead of tomorrow's protest at California State University, Long  Beach. On Tuesday the Cal State system's board of trustees will convene on the Long Beach campus' Glenn S. Dumke Auditorium to vote on ways to plug budget holes at the state's 23 campuses. Chief among the proposals is a 20-percent tuition-fee hike that would come on top of a recent 10 percent jump. Other unpopular proposals are to mandate furlough days for faculty and staff, along with reduced course offerings and caps on the number of student enrollments. The vote will come just a day or two ahead of what's expected to be yet another budget agreement hammered out by the legislature and governor.

The students began as a handful of protesters who assembled Sunday to hold a vigil outside the Cal State Long Beach chancellor's office. Tomorrow they will be joined tomorrow by members belonging to the California Faculty Association. According to a press release issued by the students, they were denied permission to camp out overnight so, to remain "legal," they stayed awake by taking turns "reading aloud passages from educators about the importance of higher

education to society, including the California Master Plan for Higher Education." (That the Master Plan kept these students awake is a testament to their dedication.)

Both students and faculty are pleading their case to the trustees -- and the public -- by asking them to look upon higher education not as a frill but an investment in the state's future. Only a few years ago the need for such an argument would've seemed to be part of a story ripped from some dystopian future. But apparently that future is here, now, for a state that hasn't the vision nor will to raise taxes to pay for the services its citizens enjoy. The crisis in education funding is particularly acute at the state university level, which is the middle "domino" separating the University of California system and the state's matrix of junior colleges.

As fees have gone through the ceiling at such full-university campuses

as Berkeley and Los Angeles, an increasing number of students are

turning to the state universities and junior colleges to fulfill their

higher education requirements. If the state campuses become

prohibitively high, it could trigger a flood of student applicants to

community colleges.


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