Read

Search form

Starving for Schooling

Starving for Schooling
Tue, 5/1/2012 - by Michael Levitin

Photo: Cal State University Fullerton students protest tuition hikes in November 2011. Mark Boster, Los Angeles Times.

Twelve students from six campuses in the California State University system announced Friday they will be going on hunger strike beginning on May 2 to protest the failure of university administrators to halt rising tuition fees and budget cuts.

"Our classes have been cut and our programs slashed," said Yeimi Lopez of Sacramento State University. "We are thus taking the torch and are escalating our direct actions. We are taking a stand as students of California, for our sisters and brothers.”

Student debt just passed the $1 trillion mark, as steady increases in the cost of attending school has meant more and more students taking out ever bigger loans to pay for their education. According to a press release issued by Students for Quality Education (SQE), 16,000 students are now facing the threat of frozen enrollment. Meanwhile, fees are rising, faculty and courses are being gutted to save money, yet California State University Chancellor Charles Reed and Chair Robert Linscheid have approved not just salary increases but executive compensations and lavish bonuses for CSU campus presidents.

On March 21, Students for Quality Education took a stand.

In a letter addressed to the chancellor and the chair, Erika Flores of SQE issued the following demands: a five-year moratorium on student fee hikes, which have more than tripled in the last decade; an elimination of all 23 campus presidents' housing and car allowances; an immediate end to cuts in classes and student services; and an extension of freedom of speech areas to include entire campuses. "Universities should be a safe space to express ideas and opinions without intimidation by campus police and administration," the letter read.

The SQE also requested a meeting with the university heads to discuss their concerns and the solutions they proposed.

On April 18, Chair Linschied wrote back in response, "If you have concrete suggestions or ideas to help the CSU through the current budget crisis, you are welcome to submit them to your elected student leaders. While the board has heard your concerns and issues... the implied threats issued by your members are not a useful form of discourse on complicated issues."

Finally, on Friday, SQE submitted another open letter "as a formal request and second attempt to schedule a meeting" as students held a press call to reaffirm their demands and issue the call for a hunger strike. “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," CSU Long Beach graduate student Donnie Besson said on the call.

"We've lobbied our state legislators, we've mobilized thousands to our state capital, and we've presented new strategies to our Board of Trustees so that we can change the course and try efficient alternatives,” Besson said.

The alternative now, for 12 students, will be to go without food until university administrators agree to come to the table and discuss a way forward that addresses their needs. For the Students for Quality Education, the educational injustices and inequities that thousands in California are facing leaves them no choice.

For more information about SQE and the hunger strike, please visit www.csusqe.org.

 

Add new comment

Sign Up

Article Tabs

Bernie Sanders, Berning of America, Occupy movement, political revolution

What’s happening in America right now doesn’t come as a surprise to those who have been trying to shed light on so many social injustices our country is facing.

Dan Price became a media sensation when he announced that the minimum wage at his company, Gravity Payments, would rise to $70,000 a year, but Forbes unearthed fraud on a massive scale.

According to records obtained by New York Civil Liberties Union, the country's most powerful police force tracks cellphones using "stingrays," which have no guiding legal policy.

Wikileaks, Julian Assange, Ecuadorian embassy, political persecution

The WikiLeaks founder has been arbitrarily detained by the U.K. and Sweden for more than five years and should be released immediately with compensation, according to a Geneva-based UN working group on arbitrary detention.

Keystone XL pipeline, tar sands, bitumen, carbon emissions, TransCanada, Enbridge, Stephen Harper, Energy East pipeline, TransMountain pipeline, Northern Gateway, Warren Buffet, First Nations

A major obstacle facing new oil transport projects is the strong resistance from Canada’s indigenous First Nations, who own or claim much of the land that the proposed pipelines would cross.

U.K. housing prices, soaring home prices, soaring rent costs, Eviction Resistance, housing bubble mortgage-backed securities, Great Recession, rising homelessness

Housing prices in London have risen by 50% in the last five years – and when the UK property bubble goes boom, it will be proportionally bigger than the U.S. housing bust at the onset of the financial crisis in 2007.

Posted 5 days 5 hours ago
income inequality, wealth inequality, rigged economy, economy of the 1%

Economic inequality inspired Occupy Wall Street, which transformed our political discourse with the concept of the “1 percent” and the “99 percent,” and today the presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders is altering the political landscape.

Posted 2 days 5 hours ago
Paris climate accord, COP21, carbon emissions, 2 degrees C, emissions reductions, renewable energy transition, renewable energy investments, clean energy investments, solar power, wind power, fossil fuel divestment

Changing the way the world is powered means big spending – and huge investment opportunities – with energy finance models suggesting clean power investments need to rise by an additional 75 percent, to $12.1 trillion, in the next 25 years.

Posted 4 days 3 hours ago

We need a guaranteed income to ensure that the benefits of 60 years of U.S. prosperity go to all Americans – not just to the few who know how to redistribute the nation’s wealth.

Posted 3 days 1 hour ago
Wikileaks, Julian Assange, Ecuadorian embassy, political persecution

The WikiLeaks founder has been arbitrarily detained by the U.K. and Sweden for more than five years and should be released immediately with compensation, according to a Geneva-based UN working group on arbitrary detention.

Posted 2 days 5 hours ago
income inequality, wealth inequality, rigged economy, economy of the 1%

Economic inequality inspired Occupy Wall Street, which transformed our political discourse with the concept of the “1 percent” and the “99 percent,” and today the presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders is altering the political landscape.

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP, corporate trade deals, Investment Court System, German Magistrates Association, Investor State Dispute Settlement, ISDS, Global Justice Now

The German Magistrates Association (DRB) last week dealt a major blow to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, as judges said special courts allowing firms to sue countries were unnecessary and "had no legal basis."

Keystone XL pipeline, tar sands, bitumen, carbon emissions, TransCanada, Enbridge, Stephen Harper, Energy East pipeline, TransMountain pipeline, Northern Gateway, Warren Buffet, First Nations

A major obstacle facing new oil transport projects is the strong resistance from Canada’s indigenous First Nations, who own or claim much of the land that the proposed pipelines would cross.

Few police shootings of Latinos make national headlines – a lack of attention and outrage that stems from a poor understanding of the history of state violence against them in the U.S.