Campus leaders question new tuition increase

A California State University proposal to increase tuition in 2018-19 is raising concerns among Sonoma State University students who are questioning what the increase is for and how it benefits them. 

The CSU Board of Trustees is looking to pass a proposal on March 21, which includes a $228 increase in tuition for the 2018-19 academic year. The proposal comes after a $270 increase took effect for the 2017-18 school year. 

It was clear to CSU students that this year’s increase was needed to fund the system’s graduation initiative, which seeks to double the four-year graduation rate from 19 percent to 40 percent and achieve a 70 percent six-year graduation rate by 2025. 

But the reasons for next year’s increase was lost on many students interviewed by the STAR.

Associated Students President Wilson Hall said he thinks consecutive tuition increases is an unwarranted burden to students.

“A possible tuition increase two years in a row is a serious issue for students,” Hall said. “While each employee is crucial to student success, at a public university, the responsibility for mandatory costs like salary increases, benefits and other operating expenses should always be the responsibility of the state, not the students.”

According to the California Faculty Association, California spends 41 percent less on a CSU students today than 30 years ago. For the 2018-19 academic year, Gov. Jerry Brown has indicated he will only grant the CSU system $102 million in new funding, an amount the Cal State Student Association says leaves a $50 million deficit just for mandatory costs. According to the California State Student Association, the chancellor’s office chose the amount based on the tuition needed to cover mandatory costs the state will not cover in its budget.

Elaine Newman, president of the CFA for Sonoma State, said she believes they need to find new ways to fund college institutions.

“Ultimately we have to come up with different funding streams, different resource streams, not on the back of students but different ways to pay for the quality education [students] are getting,” Newman said.

The CSSA and Hall say they hope to meet with Chancellor Timothy White in January at the next California State Student Association meeting. This meeting comes after the CCSA met with the Chancellor’s Office on Dec. 1 seeking answers to the proposal as well. 

“The Associated Students will continue to voice opposition to the tuition increase,” said Hall, “We will encourage our student Trustees who sit and vote on the Board of Trustees to express the impact that an additional tuition increase would have on our students.”

According to Emily Hinton, Sonoma State senior and California State University student trustee, the Board of Trustees has not taken an official position yet, “nor have we had much discussion regarding it yet.”

Newman said SSU administration needs to take responsibility for where school funds go, and that it should ultimately go back into the classroom.  

“Administration has to commit to spending their money a different way,” Newman said. ”Rather than hiring administrators and giving administrator raises, they could be focusing on spending money actually on what’s happening in the classroom.”

Both Hall and Newman encourage students to be active in giving testimony to not only administrators but legislators and the Chancellor’s Office as well. 

“Your voices matter; if you go out and get rowdy and protest, the media is going to be there, administrators are going to take note, legislators are going to take note,” said Newman.