Thirteen students attending six Cal State University campuses have announced that they will begin a hunger strike on Wednesday, and citing the failure of traditional routes to result in any dialogue to address their concerns about tuition and other issues.
Members of Students for Quality Education said Friday that the hunger strike will begin Wednesday and involve 13 students at the Dominguez Hills, Fullerton, Long Beach, Northridge, Sacramento and San Bernardino campuses.
In addition to a five-year tuition freeze and administrative pay cuts, students are calling for more free speech rights on campus and the elimination of housing and car allowances for the system’s 23 campus presidents.
Speaking during a telephone news conference, several of the students said they decided on the fast after Chancellor Charles Reed and Board of Trustees Chairman A. Robert Linscheid failed to meet with them or adequately respond to their concerns.
“We’ve tried pretty much everything, and they just ignore us,” said Donnie Bessom, 27, a student at Cal State Long Beach. “We’ve talked to state legislators, written petitions, mobilized people on campus. The next step for us is in the tradition of nonviolent civil disobedience. They keep raising salaries and have those other luxuries, and we thought the symbolic nature of a hunger strike was appropriate to the crisis.”
Since 2008, the public university system has lost nearly $1 billion in state funding, forcing cuts in classes and faculty and denial of entry to thousands of students.
Tuition has increased over the past 6 years, bringing the total cost for undergraduates for the 2012-13 school year to $5,970.
The university also recently announced plans to freeze enrollment for the spring 2013 term part of a cost-cutting strategy to reduce enrollment by 16,000 students next spring.
The decision for the freeze will be part of a proposed tax initiative on the November ballot.
The CSU Board of Trustees also came under fire in March after their salaries were released to the public.
Chancellor Charles Reed earns $421,500 a year, plus housing as well as a $30,000 annual supplement from the CSU Foundation.
During the same meeting last year where trustees voted in the wage increase for presidents, they also increased student tuition by 12 percent.
Presidents' salaries make up about $7 million of the roughly $2 billion Cal State budget.