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Students Protest High Fees

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Original Title:
Students and Faculty Protest CSU Fee Hikes

Dozens of students and faculty at Sacramento State University spent their lunch hour listening to complaints about a decision to raise tuition in the California State University system.

"We're having to pay more and more and receive less and less," said Liz Morales, a junior. She was one of the organizers of the noon hour protest. "Our board of trustees passed an agreement to increase tuition by 10 percent and continue hiking up the fees until 2011," she said.

The vote by CSU trustees covers 23 campuses. Over the last four years CSU students have watched their fees jump by 76 percent. "I think it's going to put a lot of people out of school," said Scott Noyer who is a senior.

Noyer explained he works part-time and has a hard time affording books while he pays his other bills. "You got to pay rent. Sometimes, you know, you eat cheaper food. You know, the stories about eating Top Ramen? Sometimes that's true. You just gotta make do with what you've got," he said.

"From the campus level all the way to the board of trustees, nobody wants to raise student fees," said university spokesman Frank Whitlatch. He said CSU has struggled to deal with $500 million in state funding cuts over the last decade. "In recent years we've gotten some increases, but it hasn't covered all our costs. It hasn't covered the salary increase from faculty and staff and administration," he said.

Tuesday CSU faculty averted a possible strike when negotiators reached a tentative contract agreement. Several instructors spoke at the Wednesday's student rally, saying administrators are trying to split students and faculty by saying fee hikes will pay for the contract deal that gives instructors a 21 percent salary increase. "That is a lie. It is just a lie," said sociology professor Kevin Wehr. "The California state law says that faculty salaries are completely de-linked from students’ fees."

Students say they'll continue to push administrators to lower costs and make education affordable. "They're not making it accessible for the people that deserve to be here. They're closing those doors for the people that deserve to be here," Morales said.

Sacramento State students currently pay $3,300 a year for tuition and other fees. The 10 percent tuition increase will tack on an additional $250 starting next September.

On May 2, protesters say they'll take their complaints to state lawmakers when students and faculty members from 23 CSU campuses rally at the State Capitol.

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