We Mejicanos and minorities in general are being threatened once again!
In the early to mid part of the 20th century we were fighting against segregation in schools, in the sixties we were fighting for inclusion and access to a college education and now it looks as though we are going to have to come together to fight once more. This time it is everybody attending the university system here in California who is being threatened. And thanks to whom? None other than the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Over the past two years the state has cut the CSU budget by over half a billion dollars! What that has meant is that as students our tuition has been raised by over 30% in that amount of time and will continue to be raised for the next two years. It has also meant that programs have been terminated and many others threatened, that there are fewer professors, less courses and increased class sizes and work loads for those able to continue. And it doesn't stop there? Our economy will suffer because of it since for every one dollar invested in the CSU a little over four dollars goes back into the economy.
Financial Aid, the crutch that many of us have been able to rely on, even if only for a few years is also going to lose some of the money that it has received in the past. Significant policy changes will restrict students' access to grants, work-study and loans. The Cal Grant award which used to match fee increases to ease the burden on students will cease to increase if the proposed budget passes. This means that students will have to find other avenues to pay their bills.
And many have, unfortunately by taking on part-time jobs and, in some cases, even full-time jobs. Having worked and studied at the same time as many I'm sure have, it is not an easy task to juggle multiple responsibilities and excel at them all.
That covers incoming freshman, except for the thousands in the last two years that have already been declined admission to the CSU system because of the cuts that have already taken place. The others who will feel the impact are graduate students, their fees have shot up 40% and are planned to go up by another 10? 15% if the proposed budget goes through. It is no secret that in this post-modern world the high-school diploma is not enough to provide someone with a decent wage and it is becoming clearer that the bachelor's degree is not enough either, so getting a master's or even a doctorate are the way to go. But, how will this be possible if costs an arm and a leg to get an education that will give us the opportunity to receive a decent income.
This year will have the largest amount of graduating high school students in state history. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but why should the state cut money out of education if we have more students making their way to college than ever before? Would it have to do with the fact that many are minorities and mostly Latinos?
I am months away from graduating myself and how happy I am, but what bugs me is that thousands of others like me are undoubtedly going to have a much more difficult time than I and many others in the past have had. I had it easy, my parents helped me a lot(thank you) and I waited until I could claim myself as an independent so that I could qualify for financial aid and even then I had to end up taking out loans.
Fortunately, as a starting point there are groups beginning to denounce these ludicrous attempts at denying us of our right and privilege for a quality education. It could be argued that the public education system is a mess and hardly prepares children for their ascent into higher education, but what will happen if the same fate befalls our universities? What are we going to do about it? We cannot stand around and let what we have fought so hard for be taken away. Whether you want to vote, write letters, protest, or whatever means to a just end you want to take, I hope for the sake of our future that we do something to ensure that the coming generations of students have the possibility of obtaining degrees without having to sign away their life to unmanageable debt or even worse give up the notion of attending college. We have to resist the revocation of what is justly ours: A proper EDUCATION!
Agustin is a LatinoLA intern and can be reached at email@example.com