Uploaded on Apr 13, 2011
April 13, 2011 - Led by members of the faculty union, about 200 students at California State University, Dominguez Hills, took part in a rally Wednesday to protest tuition hikes, faculty layoffs and what the protesters called "management bloat."
The event, which was coordinated to occur with protests at CSU system's 23 campuses, culminated at the Carson campus with a student-led march to the office of President Mildred Garcia.
The primary purpose of the protests across the state was to apply pressure to the campus presidents and CSU Chancellor Charles Reed.
"We're asking Reed to put the money where the students are - in classes and student services," said David Bradfield, president of the Dominguez Hills chapter of the California Faculty Association.
Bradfield, a music professor, also accused Reed of using the financial circumstances of the state as an excuse to break unions.
On the Dominguez Hills campus, the guest speaker was the fiery Rev. Eric Lee, president and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles, who tried his best to rile up a mellow crowd of students.
"There needs to be a movement to take place to stop them from robbing you of your education," he shouted into a microphone in the student quad. "We are the slaves of plantation capitalism and they are the slavemasters. That needs to change. We need to start a revolution."
Lee also went after the 23 campus presidents, many of whom - such as Garcia - earn about $300,000 a year.
"Do you mean to tell me, that in California, that $300,000 for 23 presidents and $500,000 a year for a chancellor - that they can't take cuts to their own salaries to make sure that we have classes?" he said.
The protests come at a time when the CSU system is bracing for a $500 million budget cut, proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown, due to the state's financial crisis. The cut amounts to about 18 percent of the CSU system's entire budget - and would double if tax extensions are not passed.
The tuition hikes are meant to recoup some of the lost state funding, college officials say. In November, the CSU's governing board raised tuition by 15 percent, meaning that, beginning next school year, tuition will be $5,500 annually.
Greg Saks, the vice president for university advancement on the Dominguez Hills campus, said the $5,500 amount is still the lowest tuition of all the nation's state universities.
"But it still makes things very challenging," he said.
As for the salaries of the CSU presidents, Saks said they are significantly below the national average. He said he agrees that the cuts to the CSU system will be devastating.
"The master plan of California was set up so that if you meet the qualifications, you will have access to high-quality higher education, and unfortunately, with the drops of state support, sometimes that promise isn't being kept," he said.
At Wednesday's event in Carson, student Yesenia Ortega, who graduated last year from Port of Los Angeles High School, said she was initially on track to finish her psychology degree in three years, but now, because of the budget cuts, it will probably take her four.
Blake Deyden, a computer-science major and a recent graduate from the Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance, was unimpressed by the fervor of the crowd.
"I thought it would be more active," he said. "I thought we were actually going to go yell out."
After the main event in the quad, the protest heated up: About 100 students marched to the fourth floor of the administration office, demanding to meet with Garcia, the president. The students were told she was in a meeting, and wrote a letter on the spot listing their demands, which they delivered to an administrative assistant.
That portion of the protest was organized by a student group called Students for Quality Education, not the faculty union, the protesters said.
Bradfield of the Dominguez Hills faculty union said the campus has lost about 100 nontenured instructors in recent years, while gaining about 1,000 students.
Standard YouTube License