Fall Classes Start Amidst Furloughs, Budget Cuts

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, August 31, 2009
Construction workers put the finishing touches on the new residence hall just before students began moving in. The $54 million student housing project looks a lot more like an apartment building than dorms.
“Oh this building is phenomenal.”
Biology student Adrianne Nakagawa will be living here along with 600 other students. The suite-style housing includes furnished units with kitchenettes, satellite T-V, Wi-Fi and solar-heated water. But what’s Nakagawa most excited about? The garbage chutes.
“All you have to do is just walk down the hall and put it down and let it slide. They’re amazing!”
This new complex boosts the number of students living on campus by more than 50% and helps transform Sac State from a commuter campus to a destination university.
It’s a bright spot in what promises to be a very tough year for the campus. Students like Alma Lopez say they’re working more to pay off higher fees approved by CSU trustees this year.
“With the 20% increase, on top of the 10%, like the total tuition was close to $2,500 dollars and I don’t get any financial aid. So for this semester I was able to get three jobs.”
University President Alexander Gonzalez says students will feel the effects of huge state budget cuts in other ways as well.
“We are going to be on furlough and there is going to be a reduction of service.”
Gonzalez says they may also see a shuffling in class schedules.
“If you have a class of five students for example, it’ll be canceled and they’ll put them in another one but our faculty have done a very good job of accommodating students while making statements about how difficult it is as well.”
One of those faculty members speaking out about how difficult the fee hikes and furloughs are is Sociology Professor Kevin Wehr. He heads the campus’ faculty union and points out professors will have to factor two furlough days a month in their teaching schedules this year. Wehr is organizing several protests.
“We’re having informational pickets on the start of classes. And we’re trying to act in solidarity and fight back against the budget cuts.”
Wehr says as the fall semester begins it’s more important than ever for faculty and students to unite behind the message that California will suffer if higher education funding continues to dwindle.