By STAFF AND WIRE REPORT
Cal State Bakersfield faculty and students rallied on campus Wednesday in support of "quality public higher education and fairness in tough economic times."
Similar rallies were held at the other 22 California State University campuses, with people fighting against cuts to classes, services and staff. They're asking CSU management to spend money on classes and less on "management bloat," stop layoffs, cease fee hikes, and be more transparent, according to the California Faculty Association.
Bruce Hartsell, faculty association president for CSUB and professor of social work, said the goal was to raise "consciousness on higher education" and how it's suffering under priorities established by CSU leaders. Protesters are asking people to send statements about how they're affected to CSU Chancellor Charles Reed.
CSUB spokesman Rob Meszaros said the issues start at the state level, not the CSU system level.
"The CSU does the best it can with the funds it receives from the state," Meszaros said in a statement. "We are simply in a state of limbo, which makes it incredibly hard to plan for next year."
Under current proposals, the state would cut $500 million next year from CSU campuses. Those cuts could double if proposed tax extensions do not pass.
So far, Gov. Jerry Brown hasn't secured the Republican support needed to hold a special election to even allow a vote on the taxes.
On some CSU campuses -- not CSUB -- students marched into administration buildings and demanded Reed's resignation.
About 1,000 faculty members, students and staff rallied against the cuts at California State University, Sacramento, including about 100 who occupied a campus building.
In Long Beach, about 800 demonstrators marched to the student services administration building, which had already shut down as a precaution, carrying signs reading "Education is a right" and "No more greed."
Deep budget cuts in California during the height of the recession two years ago led to sharp tuition hikes, employee furloughs, course cutbacks and reduced enrollment at the CSU and University of California systems.
The state restored some of that funding last year. But California's public colleges and universities face another round of painful cuts as Brown and the Legislature seek to close a $26.6 billion budget deficit.
Faculty leaders say the cuts threaten to reduce student access to Cal State, sometimes called the People's University, which serves large numbers of low-income students, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college.
-- Jorge Barrientos of The Californian and the Associated Press contributed to this story