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Timothy Sandoval

Sacramento State students, faculty and staff today collectively voiced their solutions and demands for a change in the priority of the California State University at a demonstration and General Assembly on campus.

“A Future Without the CSU: Sac State Prison Demonstration” was organized by Students for Quality Education, a Sac State student organization, and the California Faculty Association, which also organized the general assembly.

The CSU system faces a $500 million budget cut with the possibility of cuts doubling.

The demonstration on campus was a way to send a message to Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature that people are dissatisfied with the proposed budget cuts.

Since CSU Chancellor Charles Reed came into office in 1998, student fees have increased 242 percent.

“The budget cuts and increased fees is unfair and is falling on the backs of first-generation, working class and minorities who are coming from the most impacted communities affected by the recession,” said sociology professor Manuel Barajas.

As one student drummed on a bucket, fellow students, faculty and staff joined in and chanted, “We are the students, the mighty, mighty students. Fighting for justice and their education!”

Student organizers and faculty addressed the crowd of 45 in the free speech area. A student listening to the student organizer’s speech held a sign that read “Will I be able to afford school?”

Marcos Rodriguez, a Sac State student, hopes this sends a message to the governor.

“I hope he sees students care. We’re not just statistics and numbers. We are the future and hopefully he knows that,” Rodriguez said.

Some students wore black-striped shirts to represent prisoners. The student organizers wanted to focus the demonstration around the cost of incarcerating people vs. educating them.

According to Students for Quality Education, the budget for the prison system has been growing over the years. It costs the state $52,000 to hold a prisoner and $15,000 to put a student through one year of college.

Senior sociology major Amanda Mooers, one of the student organizers, said the culminating point of the day was the General Assembly.

The General Assembly was a discussion of concerns and solutions for the CSU.

“Students, faculty and staff joined together in the first General Assembly of the three cohorts on campus,” Mooers said.

Graduate student Lindsay Curtis expected to address only 20 people at the discussion; she instead found herself facing 140 people.

“Faculty, staff and students spoke up and didn’t just show up for the pizza,” Curtis said. “They were there to talk and assemble.”

Curtis was impressed by the camaraderie among all the people gathered, trying to make other people’s lives better.

“This represents what a movement needs to be, a united front and is student focused. We are the ones that have had the budget cuts placed on our backs,” Mooers said.

Sociology professor Kevin Wehr, president of the California Faculty Association, led the General Assembly discussion and said we should “chop from the top.”

Curtis agreed.

“Rather than recreating our entire system, going after bloated administration is the simple and quickest way to fund our education,” Curtis said.

The ideal situation would be a student-run university, Curtis said.

Sophomore environmental studies major Kally Kedinger-Cecil suggested reducing administrator salaries to deal with the budget crisis.

“For every increase we take, Chancellor Reed and President Gonzalez should take that decrease in their salaries. If tuition goes up 5 percent, they should have a 5 percent decrease,” Kedinger-Cecil said.

Kedinger-Cecil hopes students see that they have a voice and a place to voice their frustrations and do something about the budget cuts.

“A future without access to affordable, quality public education would look very bleak,” Kedinger-Cecil said. “A society needs to run on an educated populace.”

Nora Walker, a Sac State student, ended the General Assembly by talking about her struggle just trying to pay for her education.

“Students need to remind others that this is your life,” Walker said.