sfstate.jpg4:06 PM:Dozens of students gathered in San Francisco State University’s administration building for about two hours this afternoon to protest the conditions surrounding higher education and ask California State University Chancellor Charles Reed to resign.

The students said they are angry that costs are rising as the quality of their educations is deteriorating, and that Reed has not been an effective advocate for them.

Students and faculty on all 23 CSU campuses are participating in the “Take Class Action: Demand Quality Education” events, and are asking university officials to seek new revenue sources, reign in administrative salaries, and treat employees fairly.

“I’m fed up with my classes being overcrowded and my budget being cut and my tuition being hiked,” said Matt Gzowski, a junior studying anthropology. “I couldn’t sit around anymore.”

A spokeswoman for San Francisco State University said the student protesters were not asked to leave because they did not create safety or access issues.

Students met with a university administrator, and the building remained open throughout the day, spokeswoman Ellen Griffin said.

Gzowski said classes at the school that should have 20 students are accommodating 40, while classes that should have 40 students have up to 140.

“I know a lot of people who are struggling with tuition hikes,” he added. “In fact I know people who live outside of the city because they can’t afford living in San Francisco and going here.”

Sadaf Malik, a San Francisco State University student who is interning with the California Faculty Association, said the students have been lobbying state lawmakers to adopt an oil and natural gas extraction tax as well as a progressive tax structure that could generate money that could fund higher education.

She said Reed and other executives have not been advocating for revenue-generating measures, and instead are enjoying six-figure salaries while student fees rise.

A spokeswoman for the CSU system said today’s events, particularly those organized by the faculty union, were a political red herring.

The real issue, university spokeswoman Claudia Keith said, is the state budget, in which CSU funding will be cut by between $500 million and $1 billion this year.

She said executive salary only comprises 0.2 percent of the CSU budget.

“Really, all of this energy and time should be spent on, ‘How do we get the Legislature in California to reinvest in higher education?'” she said. “That is the complete bottom line.”

The students acknowledged that administrators are working in a difficult budget climate, but said executives are enjoying perks such as car and housing allowances instead of sharing students’ financial struggles.

They oppose Reed’s $451,500 in annual compensation on ideological grounds, Malik said.
“Every semester our fees go up 10, 15 percent,” she said.

And although Reed and other administrators have appealed to state lawmakers for a bigger share of the state’s general fund, they have not been proactive about supporting an oil extraction tax or other revenue generators, the protesters said.

For example, AB 1326 would raise $2 billion for state universities and community colleges by imposing a 12.5 percent tax on oil and natural gas at the wellhead, according to its proponents.

Keith said that CSU officials did not oppose the oil extraction tax, but that there was no guarantee the revenue from it would lead to increased higher-education allocations. The funds could supplant money already coming to state schools, she said.

“I think we all agree higher education is in dire straits,” she said. “All this other noise is part of a particular agenda.”

2:41 PM: Dozens of students are occupying San Francisco State University’s administration building this afternoon to protest rising tuition costs and call on California State University Chancellor Charles Reed to resign, a protester said.

School officials are letting the students remain inside the building, where they are playing music, said Matt Gzowski, a junior studying anthropology.

“I’m fed up with my classes being overcrowded and my budget being cut and my tuition being hiked,” Gzowski said. “I couldn’t sit around anymore.”

Gzowski said classes that should have 20 students are accommodating 40, while classes that should have 40 students have several times that number.

“I know a lot of people who are struggling with tuition hikes,” he added. “In fact, I know people who live outside of the city because they can’t afford living in San Francisco and going here.”

A university spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment. San Francisco police are not responding to the protest, a department spokesman said.

Janna Brancolini, Bay City News

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  • Soonerdiver

    And you don’t think that imposing a 12.5 percent tax on oil and natural gas at the wellhead wouldn’t raise the price of a gallon of gas? The price for farmers to ship to market? The executives of CSU earned their “perks” and six figure salaries thru time and sweat… something the students of today don’t understand. They want instant gratifiction… lower my tuition and books and make the Dean take a pay cut to pay for it.

    BS… grow up and get a job in the real world!

  • Cal Cal

    The longer reforms are delayed at University of California Berkeley, the more drastic the changes will have to be. University of California Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau, Provost Breslauer Must Go: clean sweep Cal. leadership (The author who has 35 years’ consulting experience, has taught at University of California Berkeley, where he was able to observe the culture & the way senior management work)

    Cal. Chancellor’s arrogance and poor judgment: pays ex Michigan governor $300,000 for lectures; recruits out of state $50,000 tuition students that displace qualified Californians; Latino enrollment drops while out of state jumps 2010; tuition to Return on Investment (ROI) drops below top 10; NCAA places basketball program on probation.

    Chancellor Birgeneau’s ($500,000 salary) fiscal track record is dismal indeed. He would like to blame the politicians, since they stopped giving him every dollar asked for, & the state legislators do share some responsibility for the financial crisis. But not in the sense he means.

    A competent chancellor would have been on top of identifying inefficiencies & then crafting a plan to fix them. Able oversight by the UC Board of Regents and the legislature would have required him to provide data on inefficiencies and on what steps he was taking to solve them during his 8 year reign. Instead, every year Birgeneau would request a budget increase, the timid regents would agree to it, and the legislature would provide. The hard questions were avoided by all concerned, & the problems just piled up to $150 million of inefficiencies….until there was no money left.

    It’s not that Birgeneau was unaware that there were, in fact, waste & inefficiencies during his 8 year reign. Faculty & staff raised issues with Birgeneau & Breslauer ($400,000 salary), but when they failed to see relevant action taken, they stopped. Finally, Birgeneau engaged some expensive ($3,000,000) consultants to tell him & the Provost what they should have known as leaders or been able to find out from the bright, engaged people. (Prominent east-coast University accomplishing same at 0 costs)

    Cal. has been badly damaged. Good people are loosing their jobs. Cal’s leadership is either incompetent or culpable. Merely cutting out inefficiencies does not have the effect desired. But you never want a crisis to go to waste.

    Increasing Cal’s budget is not enough. Take aim at the real source of Cal’s fiscal, & leadership crisis; honorably retire Chancellor Birgeneau, Provost Breslauer.