ASI President calls for student activism in response to potential tuition hike

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As students face a potential tuition increase, Associated Students, Inc. will hold an open forum in the University Union’s Hinde Auditorium on Feb. 8 at 12 p.m.

Sacramento State President Robert Nelsen and Ed Mills, the vice president of student affairs, will join ASI President Mia Kagianas in attending.

“We really want it to be discussion-based,” Kagianas said. “We want it not to just be that we are talking at students, but students feel like they can talk to us, ask questions, and be a part of the discussion.”

A funding gap between California Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2018-2019 budget and the California State University Board of Trustees’ budget may lead to a $228 increase in fall 2018 if the legislature doesn’t decide to fill the gap.

The CSU Board of Trustees requested an increase in funding of $263 million, but on Jan. 10 Brown proposed an increase of only $92.1 million. Without a tuition increase this would cause a $170.9 million shortfall.

Kagianas said that the legislature is failing in its responsibility to provide adequate funding to the CSU system.

“If the state is saying we need more people in the workforce to meet all these other economic demands, then why aren’t they saying we need more education funding?” Kagianas said. “Because they are completely related. I see this as a must in the state budget and we just need to show them why.”

Kagianas said that she wants to plan a better response than that which was mounted against last year’s tuition increase — the first since 2011.

“Last year, things kind of took us pretty much by surprise, a lot of it,” Kagianas said. “But this time, I think our strategy is going to be more robust.”

In addition to the open forum, Kagianas plans to encourage students to become involved with Sac State Lobby Corps, also known as the Governmental Affairs Policy Committee within ASI.

According to the Lobby Corps website, it acts as the advisory committee to the ASI Board of Directors and is made up of Sac State students who lobby at the local, state and federal levels.

“This is a committee that talks about different pieces of legislation, even tuition, things that deal with higher education, and informs students on what those issues are and prepares them and trains them on how to lobby so they can go to the Capitol,” Kagianas said.

Kagianas said that she wants to see students become more comfortable with lobbying and speaking out on the tuition issue.

“We’re going to hopefully plan a larger scale event,” she said. “We don’t really know what the details will look like for that yet. … We need everybody to do what they want to do and feel comfortable. We don’t want to put anyone in a situation where they don’t feel like there voice is ever heard.”

Kagianas sent an email survey to students to see their thoughts on how a tuition increase would impact them.

“Seeing raw information from people pouring their hearts out and saying ‘This could end my future, this could put my future to a halt,’ this is very serious and it’s terrifying,” Kagianis said. “But we are going to do everything we can to make sure that student voices are heard and advocated for.”

According to Kagianis, 1,211 students responded to the survey. Of those, 837 responded they would like to sign a petition, 359 said they would attend a rally, 290 said they would attend a tuition increase forum, 205 said that they would make posters, 194 said they’d like to lobby, 142 students said they would engage in letter writing and 59 said they would like to participate in every event.

Kagianas said that she wants to follow through on all of these ideas.

“I really want students to take ownership of being a part of this,” Kagianas said. “Too many times, students and even I feel that decisions are being made without us having a seat at the table or us having an opportunity to share what we are going through and when decisions are made that directly affect our ability to stay in school, we need to be there.”