Calif. students march against fee hikes

LOS ANGELES From downtown L.A.'s Pershing Square, about 100 college students rallied, then marched to the Ronald Reagan State Building a few blocks away.

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The students are angry over the proposed billion-dollar budget cut to California's community college, Cal State and University of California systems, and also a pending fee increase that, according to the Governor's office, could be as high as 10 percent.

"We live here in California and we deserve an education, and it's something that we want our Governor to prioritize in the budget this year, and it's not happening," said UCLA student Elaine Reodica.

"It's pretty damn tough considering that the cost of living is really high in any area that has a UC in it, and our wages are low. I'm a teaching assistant so I work for the UC as well," said UC Santa Barbara Teaching Assistant Steven Atwell. "And our wages haven't really kept up with the price of inflation, let alone the cost of living."

According to the University of California and Cal State offices, fees for the 2007-2008 academic year to attend a University of College campus: $7,446. Fees at a Cal State University campus: $2,772.

Some of the students demonstrating Monday say that the fee increases mean they have a tough choice to make: continue their education, or simply try to make ends meet.

Melvina Mann is a psychology student at Glendale Community College.

"I live off of SSI [Supplemental Security Income], and it's only a certain amount of money a month, so I have to make a choice: Whether to eat or to go to school, and I don't want to make that choice, but it may come to that," said Mann.

Similar demonstrations were held in San Diego, Riverside and at the State Capitol. How much of a fee increase these students will have to pay hasn't been determined yet. They're waiting to see what the governor's budget will call for.


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