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California State University students rally against tuition raise

Rallyists+congregate+at+the+California+State+University%E2%80%99+Board+of+Trustees+meeting+on+Sept.+12.+Courtesy%3A+Chico+State+Students+for+Quality+Education
Rallyists congregate at the California State University’ Board of Trustees meeting on Sept. 12. Courtesy: Chico State Students for Quality Education

California State University Students for Quality Education, California Faculty Association representatives as well as CSU students spoke at the CSU Board of Trustees meeting on Sept. 12; the day prior to the board’s approval of the tuition raise.

One such representative was Chico State Associated Students President Autumn Alaniz-Wiggins.

The Cal State Student Association paid for student representatives from all 23 campuses to travel to Long Beach for the meeting. Alaniz-Wiggins said she went to Long Beach a day early and brainstormed comments and ideas with the other representatives.

The day of, the student representatives were the first voices the Board of Trustees heard during the public comment session at the beginning of the meeting.

Following their part in the meeting, Alaniz-Wiggins said they went upstairs to the CSSA room where they watched the remainder of the meeting via livestream. They occasionally went outside to interact with the rallyists.

Her speech lasted just under one minute but reflected the same sentiments as others during the public comment session.

Multiple students gather within the Board of Trustees’ meeting chamber. Courtesy: Chico State Students for Quality Education

She stated the recorded and edited video of the public comment session — which can be found here — was kept pretty “peachy,” but in reality, the session was much more rally-like and passionate.

“The road that the multi-year tuition increase proposal has taken has been filled with meetings and collaborations and compromises, however rushed in the limited months since the initial unveiling,” Alaniz-Wiggins said during her speech.

Prior to the meeting, Alaniz-Wiggins said CSSA representatives worked with CSU representatives on the wording of the proposal, which ultimately helped clarify when the proposal would “sunset.”

However, she said the proposal’s language is still very vague but the CSSA had to compromise to provide guardrails for students.

“The social outcome of passing such an unstable proposal would create an everlasting distrust in a system everyone here fights hard to build,” Alaniz-Wiggins said during her speech.

The AS president said after working with Adventure Outings last semester — when their budget was nearly “sunsetted” — she learned there is a social cost to decisions such as these. 

“I implore the board to vote no and to continue to rework the proposal in order to make a concrete data-informed decision concerning the 40% of students who will shoulder the burden of the increase,” Alaniz-Wiggins said as she closed out her speech.

Considering the board’s decision to approve the proposal the following day, Alaniz-Wiggins said the trustees did not care about the students’ voices.

However, she does believe there’s a chance something could happen within the next five years that could cause the proposal to “sunset” early, especially if people continuously rally.

Chico State SQE interns Aliyah Ben-Joseph and Aubrey Raney said:

“It is essential for students, faculty, and staff to engage in open dialogue with the Board of Trustees and the university administration. Advocacy, protests, and communication channels can be used to express concerns and push for changes that align with the university’s stated values.”

As CSSA representatives were making their statements, others opposing the tuition raise rallied outside the building doors from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 12.

Alaniz-Wiggins was not part of the rally itself but said she often went in and out of the side doors to interact with them. She said it was very clear the protesters had created their own culture.

However, she said if you weren’t wearing a red shirt, you were almost just an onlooker.

“There was some definite political divide between us [SQE and CSSA] because some campuses have better relationships with their SQE and others do not,” Alaniz-Wiggins said.

To the best of her knowledge, Alaniz-Wiggins described Chico State’s relationship with its SQE chapter as “lukewarm.”

“I wish we were more voluntary with the CFA. They were doing their thing and we were doing our things, there just wasn’t enough time for collaboration beforehand,” Alaniz-Wiggins said. “How can we volunteer something we don’t know they [CFA and SQE] need or want?”

“Ultimately, this act of selfishness and negligence highlights the critical need for transparency, inclusivity, and equity in the decision-making processes of higher education institutions, especially when it comes to issues as impactful as tuition increases,” Ben-Joseph and Raney said. 

To read SQE Chico State’s full response, go here.

 

Ben-Joseph also spoke to the Board of Trustees, virtually, and said:

“Your refusal to acknowledge and respect life-changing consequences you inflict upon young people pursuing higher education by your mismanagement of funds is shameful, it’s embarrassing. Funds can absolutely be reallocated if you take a look at yourself in this institution and what actually matters, this is not an inevitability, this is a choice and it’s a selfish one.”

Chico State President Steve Perez, along with other CSU presidents, was also present at the Long Beach meeting. Alaniz-Wiggins said he was definitely in “dad-mode” and kept checking in to make sure she was doing alright.

“I think we are all like playing an important role in the political system, like moving the needle towards our goals,” Alaniz-Wiggins said.

To read Alaniz-Wiggins’ response to the decision, go here. To read the CFA’s response to the tuition raise, go here.

Ariana Powell can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected].

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Ariana Powell
Ariana Powell, Editor-in-Chief
Ariana Powell is in her fourth year at Chico State as a media arts (criticism) and journalism (news) double-major. Now in her fourth semester on The Orion and having assumed the editor-in-chief position, she is prepared to continue helping upcoming journalists and endeavors to continue building her repertoire of multimedia and writing skills. In her free time, she enjoys writing, watching and analyzing films, reading and spending time with her loved ones.

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