On November 20, students at San Francisco State University entered and occupied several university buildings for about 12 hours, resulting in 40 student arrests. These students were protesting the 30% increase in tuition that state schools are implementing in order to comply with the California state budget. The Santa Cruz and Berkeley campuses of the University of California have seen similar protests, with students taking over administration buildings and picketing in common areas. Despite student opposition, the tuition hikes are still set to occur in the fall. In addition to tuition increases, budget cuts have caused classes to be dropped and faculty members to be laid off state wide.
Although University of San Francisco is a private school, the Foghorn Staff believes that state budget cuts to education are a serious and relevant problem. It is important for the USF community to understand the impact of these budget cuts and stand in solidarity with our fellow students. Considering the immense changes taking place at state schools, the Foghorn would like to encourage USF students and faculty to appreciate the financial stability USF has offered us. We must also recognize and support the members of our community who are currently fighting for their right to be educated.
At San Francisco State University many students are scrambling to get into their necessary classes. The budget cuts have reduced the number of classes being offered, resulting in students being added to classes that are already past capacity or leaving students unable to register. While these students were protesting the obstruction of their education last semester, many students at USF were protesting having Friday classes. Although the schedules for next year at USF (which include more classes on Fridays) are causing conflict with student internships, jobs, and other responsibilities, it is important to have a sense of perspective. The five day school week may be inconvenient, but it is significantly less inconvenient than not having classes at all or not being able to pay for the increases in state tuition.
USF students have been quick to point out that, even with the 30% increase, our tuition will still be significantly pricier than that of California State Universities and University of California campuses. This is a legitimate claim and USF students have a right to be disgruntled by reality of private education costs.
A few things should be taken into consideration, though, before any animosity in the USF community materializes. First, students at USF choose to pay over $30,000 a year for a certain standard of education. Most of us could have gone to a public school for significantly cheaper, but decided not to, making any discontent with USF’s tuition our own responsibility.
After the budget cuts, many state-funded universities are being forced to increase class sizes to several hundred, while here at USF our class sizes remain in the thirties. Our tuition did not increase drastically during the recession and is not directly influenced by state budget deficits. USF students sometimes take these measures of financial security for granted. Lastly, many students at USF have received huge scholarships and grants to cover part of their tuition. Private funding has allowed USF to offer more diverse financial aid than most state schools.
For these reasons the USF community should appreciate the benefits of private education and recognize that differences in tuition prices between public and private universities do not necessarily reflect differences in student commitment to education. Currently, students and faculty at state universities need the greater academic community’s support. Education and service are two fundamental Jesuit values and the current state of higher education in California offers the Jesuit commnity an opportunity to get involved in and advocate for the rights of students across the state.