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California State University tuition hike approved; demonstrators clash

November 16, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
The California State University Board of Trustees approved a 9-percent tuition hike for the 2012-13 school year on a 9-6 vote Wednesday.

The increase tacks on another $500 to the cost of a Cal State education. Factoring in campus-specific fees, undergraduate students would pay about $7,000 for the academic year starting next year.

A crowd of about 300 students and supporters of ReFund California Coalition, a group that wants the bank to pay their share, demonstrated outside Dumke Auditorium during the vote, which began around 10 a.m. at Cal State Long Beach.

They all wanted to attend the finance committee meeting, which took place before the vote. However, the seats were full and only a dozen or so people were allowed to stand in the back.

The committee discussed a budget proposal calling for a $330 million increase in general fund support. The Cal State system says that it needs funding for students, staff and maintenance, and without money from Sacramento, Cal State is simply going to have to raise tuition by 9 percent and also make some major cuts.

"It will be necessary, among other things, to turn away thousands of students, increase class sizes, eliminate low-enrollment programs, further reduce the work force, adjust the investment to our employees, and yes, increase the tuition fee. And all of those options are undesirable," said Cal State University CFO Benjamin Quillian.

In the auditorium trustees heard public comment about the tuition hike. Police were then called in to clear the auditorium.

In response to clearing the auditiorium, violent clashes broke out between demonstrators and police in the lobby and plaza areas.

Cal State University police kept news reporters and cameras behind them and protesters outside the plaza area of the auditorium.

Police detained three people, one claiming to be a San Diego State University student. In the mayhem, a glass door to the lobby was broken.

Three Cal State officers were injured during the melee. One officer suffered glass cuts on his arm. Another sustained a small cut just above his right eye.

Long Beach police officers in riot gear came in to restore order. Some officers used pepper-spray to get the crowd to leave the plaza area.

While police were clearing out the plaza, the Cal State trustees returned to session to approve the 9-percent tuition fee increase and a request to the state legislature for more than $400 million in extra funding for the 2012-2013 term.

The state's legislative analyst announced a gloomy fiscal outlook on Wednesday. California's tax revenue is projected to fall $13 billion short next year. That shortfall is expected to trigger $100 million in cuts to Cal State and University of California systems.

"It's kind of that 'Catch-22.' Like do I go into tons of debt to get an education and then no promise of a job to pay off that debt? Or do I get menial, minimum-wage paying jobs that aren't going to ever give me an opportunity to pursue an education later on?" said Kaykla Crow, a student at Cal State Long Beach.


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