Sometimes progress and stagnation are one in the same.
With a tuition freeze in California’s 2012-13 budget, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed last Wednesday, students in the UC and CSU systems will not face increasing education costs in the coming school year.
As students, we often feel like pawns in the political process, but with the tuition freeze, it is clear that our voices are being heard.
Demonstrations like Occupy the Capitol on March 5 have illustrated just how important this is to us. Students and stakeholders should continue to protest, provided they remain nonviolent and respectful. Meanwhile, advocacy groups are making headway too, especially from unions, the University of California Student Association and CALPIRG. Groups like these have also become a good way for students to keep track of what is going on.
In recent months, legislators have shown more of a commitment to student needs. The Middle Class Scholarship Program, passed on May 30, will cut fees by two-thirds for middle-income families. And two bills were recently passed in the state Senate geared toward providing students free access to textbooks for popular lower division courses.
Education is not an issue only for current students — it’s absolutely critical for everyone, even those outside academic circles. In hard economic times when there is a lack of long-term solutions, higher education shines even brighter. Investing in higher education is investing in future doctors, engineers and leaders.
In the end, though, this tuition freeze is just a band-aid — and one that might even be ripped off come November. The budget is largely dependent on Brown’s tax initiative, which raises taxes on the wealthiest Californians. If voters do not pass the initiative on Election Day, trigger cuts could lead to tuition increases for the UC and CSU systems, adding to what is already the fastest rising tuition in the country.
Advocacy thus does not end here.
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