Politics

CSU Trustees Hike Tuition As Protesters Clash With Police

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Protesters at CSU Long Beach are arrested trying to make their way into a meeting of trustees, November 16, 2011. (CBS)

Protesters at CSU Long Beach are arrested trying to make their way into a meeting of trustees, November 16, 2011. (CBS)

LONG BEACH (CBS SF) – California State University trustees approved a 9 percent tuition hike Wednesday at a meeting in Long Beach where students clashed with university police and four arrests were made.

On Wednesday morning, the committee on finance approved the hike in a 4-3 vote, and the full board adopted the proposal Wednesday afternoon with a 9-6 vote.

According to CSU officials, the tuition increase is needed to restore access, course sections and student services. It will take effect next year.

The board plans to ask the Legislature in January for a total increase of $333 million in state general funds for the 23-campus system. The rest of the $535.6 million in identified funding needs will come from $64 million in tuition from increased student enrollment of 20,000 students and $138 million will come from the fee increase.

“While there is still so much uncertainty in the state’s fiscal condition, we wanted to provide students and parents with as much notice as possible that tuition will go up in the fall,” a statement issued by the Chancellor’s office Wednesday afternoon read. “That said, we must all work with state leaders to restore the funding needed to maintain access and quality for CSU students.”

The increase would amount to $498 per year for undergraduates, $582 for credential program participants and $618 for graduate students.  Annual tuition is currently $5,472.

In July, the trustees approved a 12 percent hike that went into effect this fall and was expected to generate $150 million for the CSU system annually.

An additional 10 percent tuition increase was approved last November. Together with cutbacks, the tuition hikes were expected to bridge the budget gap created by $650 million in state funding cuts.

If the increase moves forward, it would be the sixth consecutive year that the CSU system has seen a jump in tuition.

Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom on the CSU Tuition Hike:

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is an ex officio trustee, said that the hike represents an alarming trend of relying on students and their families to support the public education system.

“Even more alarming was the manner in which the decision was made.  With many members of the board not even attending the meeting today, and after protesters interrupted the proceedings, the CSU leadership chose to continue behind closed doors with no members of the public or media in attendance,” Newsom said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

A student protest broke out at the trustees meeting in Long Beach outside Chancellor Charles Reed’s office. According to the Chancellor’s Office, four protesters were arrested and three CSU police officers were injured.

One of those officers was injured when the glass entrance doors to the Chancellor’s office were shattered, according to an employee in the Chancellor’s office.

A statement issued by the Chancellor’s office said that the continuance of the meeting in a closed session was permitted under provisions of the Bagley-Keene Act regarding disruption of public meetings.

“Whatever the rationale, this issue is simply too important to not allow for a full and thorough public discussion or to contribute to the perception that this process is anything less than open and transparent,” Newsom said. “By doing so, I fear we are unintentionally inflaming the widespread confusion and acrimony that continues to build around the issue.”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who serves on the CSU board of trustees, said he is against the proposed tuition hike.

“Fee increases should be our very last resort, not our first option. And yet for the last decade, fees have marched steadily upward, shifting the Legislature’s failure to support our state universities onto the backs of our students and their families,” Torlakson said.

“It’s time to recognize that our students and our state are in crisis, and we need talented college graduates to bring California’s economy back. This proposal takes us in the wrong direction at the worst possible time.”

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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