The California State University system was built as the vehicle to propel young people toward the American dream. California’s working- and middle-class families could confidently send their children to a CSU school, knowing they would be able to receive a quality, low-cost education at a four-year university. The CSU system has often been looked at as a realistic alternative for many when compared to the University of California system, which is nearly twice as expensive.
But on Monday, in a reckless and wildly irresponsible decision, the CSU system announced it will not be accepting any new admissions for the spring 2013 semester. This move will crush the college dreams of many Californians, especially working-class students across the state who depend on the CSU system to help them achieve their lifetime goals. To make matters even worse, further cuts to higher education are on the horizon and will undoubtedly come with more tuition and fee increases.
Unfortunately, CSU’s latest decision is only one item in a laundry list of poor judgment calls that do not reflect the needs of students and their families. Just last summer, the CSU board of trustees approved a $400,000 compensation package for the new president of San Diego State University, $100,000 more than his predecessor. An unconscionable decision, given the monumental budget crisis that CSU is currently facing.
Full transparency and oversight must be achieved within the CSU system. The more than 400,000 students at CSU schools across California have a right to know how their tuition is spent, and they must be included in the selection of leadership. Robert Corrigan, the president of San Francisco State University, is retiring at the end of this year. I urge the CSU board of trustees to conduct the search for his successor in an open and democratic manner. As a student at SFSU, I strongly believe Corrigan’s successor should, under no circumstances, receive a pay raise.
California’s college students have been pushed too far. We are tired of being ignored, taken for granted and manipulated by our broken and dysfunctional state government. It is time to push for deep reforms within the CSU system, as well as for increased access to higher education for all of California.
The key to turning California’s economy around is investing in human capital — in young people, their ideas and their visions for tomorrow. It is clear that by choosing to shut the door on its students, the CSU system is not only jeopardizing the individual futures of hundreds of thousands of Californians, it is risking the livelihood and future of our state.
Paul Murre is the president of the California College Democrats and a junior at San Francisco State University.