Students voice frustrations at Vent Tent

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. Lucy Uber is an A student at Cal State Northridge, who can't get the one last class she needs to move on to medical school.

"I told the professor that if I have to sit on the floor, I'll sit on the floor," says Uber.

But before Uber sits on any floor, she sat in front of a camera, sharing her frustration.

"By the time my registration date even came up, the class that I wanted was full," says Uber.

Uber and other CSUN students are taping their stories at what is called the "Vent Tent." They're upset about state budget cuts that are translating into fewer classes and higher tuition. The plan is to take these testimonials and send them to the people who can change that.

"We're going to make a compilation DVD, and we're going to send it to the chancellor, we're going to send it to the governor, and we're going to send it to the legislators to hear some of the heart wrenching stories of some of our students and their denied access to the education that's been promised to them," says professor Nate Thomas of the California Faculty Association.

The Vent Tent is sponsored by the California Faculty Association. Its members, as part of the state cut backs, are now furloughed two days every month, essentially a 10 percent pay cut. The 24-school Cal State system has lost more than half a billion dollars in funding this year, and student fees have nearly tripled over the last eight years.

"Working people will no longer be able to afford the CSU, unless we do something to get that funding," says professor Theresa Mantano of the California Faculty Association.

That funding may hinge more on the state's economic recovery rather than these Vent Tent videos, but at the least, they give students a cathartic release of their frustrations.

As for Lucy Uber, the instructor of the class she needs showed Eye Witness News a list of students also waiting to take it.

"After I turned away about 30, we still have all these," says CSUN instructor Marcia Siderow pointing to a lengthy list of names.

"These are all people like her desperate to get in," she added.

Forget about the dean's list. These days, it's all about the waiting list.

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