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CSU Students To Go On Hunger Strike PDF Print E-mail
Written by San Fernando Valley Sun   
Thursday, 03 May 2012 02:49

Cal State Northridge Joins the Fight Against Tuition Increases


Grace Castaneda, Mathew Delgado and Sarah Garcia are conducting a hunger strike in CSUN to protest tuition hikes.

Facing an enrollment freeze and more tuition increases, 12 students from six California State University (CSU) campuses, including Northridge, are taking part in a hunger strike that began May 2 and culminates next Wednesday May 9 when the CSU Board of Trustees meets at the Long Beach campus, where the students hope to present their demands.

The group heading the effort is Students for Quality Education, an organization at California State University schools. Students from CSU Dominguez Hills, Fullerton, Long Beach, Sacramento and San Bernardino are taking part in the hunger strike. At California State University Northridge (CSUN), four students have joined the effort.

The students decided on a hunger strike because they said CSU Chancellor Charles Reed and Board of Trustees Chairman A. Robert Linscheid didn't adequately respond to their demands. They're hoping the hunger strike will get their attention.

"We felt that we had exhausted the (impact) of marches and rallies. We have no other choice than to escalate our actions," said Edgar Ramos, 22, a CSUN Art major student who is organizing the hunger strike at the school.

He said the hunger strike is very symbolic as well because a lot of students are going into debt and, in some cases, are having to choose between paying for school and food as tuition goes up.

Ramos said he has been "blessed" because his parents were able to pay for his first two years of college. Since then, he's had to work different jobs to make ends meet.

"I'm just living paycheck to paycheck," he said.

The students' demands include a five-year moratorium on student fees, the elimination of all 23 campus presidents' housing and car allowances, no more cuts to classes and student services and a designated free speech area in each campus.

Ramos said the hunger strikers have been preparing for the fasting for the past weeks.

"They've been cutting off their meat and junk food consumption. Some have gone vegetarian and they're reducing the amount of food they eat," he said.

During the hunger strike, the students will only ingest juices and water.

"I think these strikers are very dedicated to what they're doing. We'll have medical attention at the ready in case of any emergency," Ramos said.

For the first three days of the hunger strike, the CSUN students will "occupy" the lawn in front of the Oviatt Library. All of the hunger strikers will then move on to CSU Long Beach to prepare for the next Board of Trustees meeting.

"We want to make sure these students save their energy for that meeting," said Ramos.

The California State University system has lost nearly $1 billion in state funding since 2008, which has led to class cuts, layoffs, denied entry to thousands of students, tuition increases and plans to freeze enrollment in spring 2013.

Meanwhile, Ramos said student fees have risen 318% since 2002 and thousands of classes have disappeared.

"We've had tuition increases every semester. We're paying more for less," he said.