Cal State LA students protest fee increase

imageCal State LA students walked out of class and blocked the university bookstore to protest the student success fee. It would make students pay an additional 80 dollars per quarter to pay newly-hired academic advisers. Students say the fees are a move towards privatized education.

“In 1950, governor Pat Brown released a master plan that said students should not pay tuition. We want President Posser to come out to publicly sign a declaration that public education is a human right.”

But students aren’t the only ones feeling the squeeze.

“We within our psychology department were forced to put our marriage and family therapy program on suspension. We were told it was too expensive, even though it was the most popular program on hold. It was effectively slashed by our college.” That’s Dr. Bridgette Matthies.

She’s taught psychology at Cal State LA for the last eight years. Dr. Matthies cancelled her class this morning so students could protest. “They have to have a voice. They have to talk about it. The student fees have risen every year.”

Dr. Matthies says it seems redundant to bring in outside advisors when academic departments already advise students. And she says the budget cuts have forced some students to graduate later.

“I have a lot of students trying to add my classes. In years past we’d be allowed to add them, but this year we were told to stay at the cutoffs for our classes. Even if there’s a space in the class we’re not allowed to add them. I just don’t understand that. Students come to me–I’m an advisor within my department–and they’ll need that one class to graduate, they’re no longer offering it over the summer, so they have to come back in the fall, which makes it heartbreaking for us.”

University officials said they support the students’ right to protest, and that they’ve done all they can to help students. Here’s director of media relations, Paul Browning.

“It all boils down to Sacramento and the budget cuts we’ve received over the years. Those kinds of cuts are hard to bounce back from. It all stems from that.”

Support for the CSU is at its lowest in 15 years. But its budget relies on voters approving governor Jerry Brown’s tax initiative, which would bring in about 7 billion dollars a year. But if it’s not approved, several cuts would go into effect, which means the CSU would take a 200-million-dollar hit.

Council redistricting outrages council members

imageA commission appointed by the LA City Council prepared the redrawn maps to account for population changes since the last census. But the changes have outraged some councilpeople.

Bill Rosendahl represents District 11, which currently encompasses the west side, including LAX. His colleague, Bernard Parks, represents District 8, which includes Crenshaw and Leimert Park over to USC.

At a news conference, both councilmen criticized the proposal that would let Rosendahl keep LAX but would give Westchester to Parks.

“How dare they take people away from the issues that matter so much to them? It’s an insult to democracy at its best,” Rosendahl said.

Councilman Parks was quick to criticize what he calls closed-door meetings where the maps were drawn.

“We were asked well before the commission was created whether we want Westchester and the airport. And we said, ‘no, it doesn’t fit our community.’ How are people in City Hall talking about maps before the commission was created, and who’s creating maps outside of the commission?” he said.

Rosendahl drafted a petition against the redistricting proposal that has garnered more than 2,000 signatures.

One Westchester resident, William Roberts, says the plan would break up a community with similar interests. He says LAX and nearby Loyola Marymount University affect Westchester residents like him.

“We share the burdens and benefits of LAX, we share the burdens and benefits of having students in our community who rent from homeowners here,” he said. “When there are problems, we want to go to one councilperson and have them worked out that way instead of having an opposing situation where you have two city council people representing the same area.”

Calls placed to the Office of Redistricting were not immediately returned.