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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Students speak out during tuition increase protest

While the voices during the protest were quiet, their intentions were loud
Butte College student, Augustus Chamberlain, holds up a sign during Wednesday’s student protest. Taken by Ariana Powell on Nov. 15.

Some students discussed how their futures in higher education will be completely changed due to the tuition increase at the protest on Wednesday.

Chico State and Butte College students gathered around the Chico State sign near Kendall Hall to protest the tuition increase. While the voices during the protest were quiet, their intentions were loud. All six protesters spoke out about how the tuition increase will impact them and those closest to them.

Four protest posters can be seen leaning against the brick CSU Chico State sign. Taken by Ariana Powell on Nov. 15.

At 11 a.m., protest leader Trysta Seale and her friend Augustus Chamberlain, a Butte College student, lined up four protest posters along the base of the university’s sign. A large pack of water bottles sat to the side.

“Grab some water, there’s going to be a lot of talking,” Seale said to students who filtered over to the university sign.

Trysta Seale holds up a sign during her student protest. Taken by Ariana Powell on Nov. 15.

Seale started the protest with her own story.

“I can no longer come here. I won’t be coming here next semester. I have to go back to Butte College and try and restart my entire education plan all over again and think of a new plan,” Seale said. “So let’s remember that even though I won’t be able to follow my dreams, I wanna make sure that all the other students are able to follow theirs.”

Skye Thomas, left, and Lizzie Eickmeyer, right, discuss the tuition increase during Wednesday’s student protest. Taken by Ariana Powell on Nov. 15.

Chamberlain echoed a similar concern regarding no longer being able to attend Chico State.

He said he planned to come to Chico State and major in computer science, but now, with the tuition increase, he can no longer afford it.

“And so I have to redo my entire education where I only stay at Butte and hopefully find a degree that I can sort of get away with at Butte College,” Chamberlain said.

Augustus Chamberlain, left, and Trysta Seale, right, speak out during Wednesday’s student protest. Taken by Ariana Powell on Nov. 15.

Chamberlain is a first-generation college student and said after seeing the tuition increase that he’d be a “first-generation community college student.”

Others voiced concerns for their friends and the families of current and prospective CSU students.

One protester, Skye Thomas, said she has talked with friends who do not have as much financial support, saying it would be upsetting to see her friends’ options of higher education taken away because they are smart and deserve it.

“I know I’m in a more fortunate position than my peers, but that’s exactly why I’m here,” Seale echoed. “I have friends who are here for specific programs and I know how smart they are and I can see how dedicated they are and I just want them to succeed so badly that I don’t want to see them have to leave because of the tuition increase.”

Chico State anthropology graduate student, Lizzie Eickmeyer, echoed the same concerns for students’ families and said it’s preposterous that people have to choose between their livelihood and their education to better themselves and their families.

“The fact I have to sit here and discuss with my cohort if these parents and if these people can finish their degree that they started because of this tuition increase is absurd,” Eickmeyer said.

Protester, Estefania Lozada Alvarez, stated she chose Chico State because it was the most affordable for what she wants to accomplish, but if she can’t afford it because of the tuition increase, she will no longer have the opportunity to complete what she wants.

She also said her parents came to the U.S. with nothing, that they’ve worked hard to build their lives but those of Alvarez and her siblings.

“I just think about them every day having to work to build our futures, including mine, and it just sucks ‘cause why would I want them to work more and I’d have to probably sacrifice what I can have here to go back home,” Alvarez said. “They’ve been looking forward to me going down the graduation thing with a tassel and a degree. Why do I have to wait for it?”

Seale said the tuition increase impacts not only students but faculty and staff as well.

“This doesn’t just affect the students, but this also affects the teachers, the administration and the Board of trustees are showing that they don’t care about us or the teachers,” Seale said.

She also said she would be fine if students’ tuition was being used for a good cause, like giving faculty members the pay they deserve, but “they’re being extremely mistreated.”

“Because without the students, they [the CSU] are nothing,” Seale said. “And without the teachers, they [the CSU] are nothing. And if they keep going down this path, they [the CSU] will literally become nothing.”

Left to right, Skye Thomas, Lizzie Eickmeyer and Estefania Lozada Alvarez, stand with their signs during Wednesday’s student protest. Taken by Ariana Powell on Nov. 15.

Thomas and Eickmeyer said they feel like the students and faculty members are being pitted against each other.

Thomas said students need to remember that students and professors are working together and that together, they make up the campus.

“So I truly wanna believe that our administration has genuinely noble goals, which is why I want them to refocus on those noble goals and actually prove that students are what they care about,” Thomas said. “And I would ask if they would take these student protests as a challenge, not as a challenge against their authority, but a challenge against what they’re holding as their morals.”

However, Eickmeyer does not have faith in the CSU Board of Trustees and is not hopeful student protests will impact their decision or cause them to change it.

“I think that despite student protests, they are already planning to do this and, therefore, they’re probably not going to change the tuition increase,” Eickmeyer said.

Trysta Seale makes a speech during Wednesday’s student protest. Taken by Ariana Powell on Nov. 15.

Seale said if students’ only option for  higher education is to be put into severe debt, then that’s proof that the administration doesn’t care about them.

“So what do we do when they show us they obviously don’t care? We become like a thorn in their side and make sure they can no longer ignore us,” Seale said. “We will continue this until we get higher education available to every student no matter the situation they are in.”

Thomas and Seale mentioned their experiences living with parents who had to pay off college debt and how difficult it was for them economically and emotionally.

Protesters begin to chant during Wednesday’s student protest. Taken by Ariana Powell on Nov. 15.

The protest — which was supposed to end around noon — concluded 15 minutes early. Just before the protest ended, Seale called for a moment of chanting. She recycled the California Faculty  Association’s chant from a past Long Beach protest: “Down, down tuition heights, up, up student rights!”

All six protesters quietly made their voices heard.

Seale hopes to have another protest on campus around the same time next semester.

“I think even with just a few, since not many showed up, our bond is probably a lot stronger,” Seale said.

She was concerned with a lack of Chico State administration presence at the protest and said “they’re not showing support for their community and for the students, so I wish I would’ve seen a little more of that.”

Overall, Seale said it would break her heart to see Chico State collapse due to the tuition increase, because the university is the heart of Chico, “and if students were to stop coming here, not only would that affect the teachers here and the college itself, but also the businesses who depend on student engagement.”

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

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About the Contributor
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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