Push to get Legislature to give back all it’s taken

Paul Roundtree

If one general sentiment has invaded the thoughts and worries of students, faculty and teachers alike, it is that our collective financial butter is spread far too thin.California has had to tighten its belt. Unfortunately, the state ended up reducing funds to the California State University system by 21 percent over the past two years, ultimately withholding $625 million.Associated Students Inc. President Roberto Torres, who works closely with the administration, believes Sacramento State is operating on “bare minimum.” Without funding, Torres said, “We’re no longer talking furloughs, but layoffs, reducing enrollment even further, maybe even higher fee increases.”On Jan. 8, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger gave the state Legislature his 2010-11 state budget proposal.His cover letter reads: “I intend to propose a re-prioritization of funds away from administration and into the classroom, and away from prisons and into our universities … I believe strongly that additional reductions below current year funding levels would leave a permanent scar on our children and on the greatest university system in the world.”It optimistically reinstates $305 million toward the CSU system plus an additional $60.6 million growth fund to potentially bring over 8,000 students back.But are those numbers realistic?”That’s really the question that the government legislature moves to answer,” said John Kepley, special assistant to President Alexander Gonzalez. “I think the people of California want higher education, they know we produce the graduates that drive the workforce, we need those graduates to keep our economy going and there needs to be a commitment at the capital.”So how do we go about fostering a commitment toward that priority with decision makers at the capital?”It’s important to remember that we are all in this together,” said Gloria Moraga, vice president of public relations for Sac State. “Of course we are thrilled that the governor is suggesting this … but we have to look at the hard numbers … I know it sounds corny, but call your legislator, call your representative … the squeaky wheel gets the oil.”In order to make any sort of progress, we need to stop pointing fingers on campus and start getting every individual student, teacher, faculty member and administrator on the same boat to spearhead the issue at the capital level.Certainly several thousand emails from students would make elected officials rethink their priorities, especially considering the impact made by student voters in the 2008 presidential election.”It says to (state legislators) here is a group of people with enough political savvy to do this, plus they’re college students so they’re old enough to vote,” Kepley said.Moraga said the CSU sets itself apart not only for the standards to which it educates its students, but for its commitment to bringing them opportunity in the first place.”Even when I went to school, I went through on Pell grants and scholarships … I would never have been able to attend if we didn’t have government funding,” she said.If we don’t get more funding immediately, that opportunity may not be around much longer.Do not take the affordable college experience for granted.Do not take for granted the hard working teachers and mentors who prepare young adults for life in the real world.Do not take for granted the hundreds of administrators and staff who sustain our chance for intellectual growth.Remember the words of Edmund Burke, “No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do little.”It is every individual’s responsibility to preserve this very important opportunity, for themselves, their neighbors, and for the future.Paul Roundtree can be reached at [email protected]