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Student Advocates Negotiate State Capital for CSU Funding

Lobby Corps Members travel to Sacramento to pressure Assemblymembers for higher education funding

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Student Advocates Negotiate State Capital for CSU Funding

Cal State LA Lobby Corps members with assemblymember and Cal State LA professor Phillip Chen

Cal State LA Lobby Corps members with assemblymember and Cal State LA professor Phillip Chen

Anthony Karambelas

Cal State LA Lobby Corps members with assemblymember and Cal State LA professor Phillip Chen

Anthony Karambelas

Anthony Karambelas

Cal State LA Lobby Corps members with assemblymember and Cal State LA professor Phillip Chen

Anthony Karambelas, Staff Reporter

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Facing a potential CSU tuition hike, a tiny but mighty group of Cal State LA students are ferociously defending student pocketbooks. Our very own student advocacy group, otherwise known as Lobby Corps, has been especially active in recent weeks, fighting with every last sap of energy to ensure that a tuition hike does not occur.

Less than two weeks ago, the Lobby Corps traveled to our state capital in an effort to convince local politicians and assemblymembers to provide more funding to the CSU. Their efforts tackled the crux of the tuition issue: California funding simply does not cover higher education as much as it should.

For some members of the Lobby Corps, the visit to the capital was their first.

“As a first time visitor to the State Capitol, the process of lobbying for CSU students blew me away. I hadn’t realized how important it truly is for students to contact their local legislators to voice their opinions on education – because in the end, that’s all it comes down to. If your assembly member isn’t hearing from you as a college student but hears from public health advocates, public health is what they will focus their attention on,” said Neyda Susana.

In her visit, Susana found that assemblymembers had unrealistic views of the tuition crisis. Many thought that students were being too frivolous with their money, spending it on “dry cleaning” instead of their education.

Susana flatly objected, “The fact that our campus has created a food pantry for faculty and students who cannot afford food speaks enough to the situation; education has been priced way too high, and with the cost of living in California it is unrealistic to expect students to be able to advance themselves in education, or in life, if they cannot even afford food.”

The Lobby Corps informed state legislators that the nature of the college experience has changed. Students are not only responsible for tuition, but also rent, food, gas, and textbooks. At the same time, job earnings remain the same.

Cal State LA members also rejected the governor’s $168 million proposal for the CSU system, reminding legislators that we need the requested $346 million. They dismissed the Governor’s intent to save up for California’s future, insisting that we need to invest before we conserve.

“Students are the future of CA and if we do not invest in the CSU system we will not have those health care providers to provide the health care the state prioritizes; we will not have those engineers to build our roads or dams,” said Marcos Montes, leader of the Corps.

While at the capital, the Lobby Corps also participated in this year’s CHESS conference, a two-day gathering hosted by the California State Student Association (CSSA). Days were filled with workshops designed to improve student leadership and lobbying skills, as well as public policy training sessions.

Rayes Barrera commented on the nature of the trip: “Sacramento was an amazing experience. Seeing all 23 CSUs attend CHESS 2017 really ignited my inner school spirit. Kayla Stamps [CSULA president] knew everyone and was introducing us to literally every campus there. It was amazing seeing how much love Kayla got from all the other CSUs, it definitely made me feel proud to be representing Cal State LA.”

At the conference, Marcos Montes was recognized with the Shaun R. Lumachi Student Advocate of the Year Award for his exceptional work throughout the year, pressing for issues close to his heart. His award places him among the most notable of student advocates across the CSU system.

“Sacramento was a very empowering trip. I recommend everyone to join ASI lobby corps if you want to help fund education. We are putting Cal State LA on the map!” said Barrera.
Today (March 22nd) will serve as a moment of catharsis for many, as the CSU Board of Trustees votes to either spare the students or stifle them. Stay tuned to the final vote by watching a livestream at: https://www2.calstate.edu/csu-system/board-of-trustees/Pages/livestream.aspx or by visiting the ASI Calstate LA, Lobby Corps FaceBook page.

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