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Faculty, students to lawmakers: #FundTheCSU, support key legislation

CFA activists and students hosted a unique art installation and rally at the Capitol on Tuesday, where they met with legislators to advocate for increased investment in the California State University.

During a noon news conference, faculty and students urged lawmakers to #FundTheCSU, and support a state budget augmentation that would increase the number of tenure-track faculty, improve mental health counselor-to-student ratios, and increase student access to the People’s University.

The event also included an art display created by Sol Collective, which featured two giant speech bubbles stating #FundTheCSU.

“The Governor’s budget shows a serious commitment to investing in CSU students and faculty,” said CFA President Jennifer Eagan. “Now, we want to be sure the CSU administration uses this money wisely.  Students deserve access to a quality higher education and that includes funding for instruction and the support and services they need to graduate.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom made history when he proposed an unprecedented 8 percent increase in state funding for the CSU – a total of $562 million more in ongoing and one-time funds for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

“I think what’s a little bit different is the fact that we now have a governor who understands how important public education is. We have a governor who understands that a high-quality, low-cost public education is the best way to transform the middle class,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon told the crowd. “We need to make sure that at all the Cal States, the students, have the mental health services they need. We need to make sure that at every Cal State, they have the food pantry they need to deal with food insecurities.

“Your voice, coming here to Sacramento, as you do, and as I used to before I had to come here, lending your voice and telling your stories is ultimately the most transformative.”

CFA’s proposed budget allocations would include $62 million to increase access for 8,571 students; $35 million for hiring more tenure track faculty, and $20 million to bring counselor-to-student ratios up to the standard recommended by the International Association of Counseling Services, ensuring that there is at least one mental health counselor per 1,500 students. Currently, only five out of 23 CSUs meet that professional recommendation.

“There is a growing crisis of students being unable to afford housing and it’s having a dramatic toll on our mental well being,” said Elybeth Alcantar, a fourth-year Chico State student. “When we are living out of our cars or don’t have enough to eat, that directly impacts our ability to succeed in the classroom. And that has a direct impact on graduation rates.”

For more than 30 years, the CSU was chronically underfunded, and public funding for the CSU decreased as the number of students of color increased, said Margarita Berta-Ávila, a Professor at Sacramento State and President of the CFA Capitol Chapter.

“Chronic, inadequate funding and disinvestment by the state has very real implications for these Californians, who are promised a chance at a college education by the state’s Master Plan,” she said. “The CSU is the economic engine of this state, and we provide the degreed professionals that keep our state at the forefront of the world economy. Reinvesting in the CSU is a down-payment on the future success of California.”For more than 30 years, the CSU was chronically underfunded, and public funding for the CSU decreased as the number of students of color increased, said Margarita Berta-Ávila, a Professor at Sacramento State and President of the CFA Capitol Chapter.

Click here to see a photo gallery from Tuesday’s Lobby Day activities.

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