Really California?

In the past few years, the California budget has slowly been weakening. With more and more budget cuts every year it seems as if we are trending towards a state with no higher education available at all.

With upcoming generations consisting of higher populations than currently reside at college campuses, it is necessary to evaluate the budget systems of CSUs, UCs, and even the state city colleges.

Previously, more people had been applying to college, either to continue their education directly after high school, or to return to school at age 40. While it is great that the amount of prospective students is increasing, the decline in the available budget will not support such an increase.

However, with the recent budget crisis over the past five years, there has been a slight decline in applications in California.

Chancellor Jack Scott said that the 1% enrollment decline “reflected numerous students being turned away because of fewer or overcrowded classes.”

The decline in classes available has discouraged many students across the state, as is understandable. Why would a student want to pay the increased tuition fee when they are not able to get into the classes they need to complete their education?

Unfortunately, the budget crisis has been affecting each and every one of the colleges in California. Here at Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo it seems we have fewer classes available every quarter yet a contrasting increase in the amount we are paying.

I have seen my friends go through the agony of crashing classes, panicking they won’t get into a course they need to graduate in 3 months, and worrying about paying back student loans. However, I have never had these worries.

With a mom that has always planned way too far ahead, I have never had to crash a class, have always known a year ahead of time what class I am planning to take, and have a financial stable background. I am highly fortunate to have my own personal planner to allow me to graduate in four years – even with a minor.

It is definitely true that the system at Cal Poly is daunting and frustrating at times.

The quarter system allows more flexibility for the availability of classes at times, but some classes are not offered every quarter. For those who do not plan ahead this can cause them to not be able to graduate for three extra quarters if they don’t take a class that’s only offered once a year.

Luckily, the town of San Luis Obispo is such a welcoming one that the thought of being forced to stay here for an extra year isn’t the worst thing that can happen.

However, for those who are supporting themselves financially, staying in school for longer than planned is not always economically feasible.

I have friends who I hardly get to see because the time they are not in class or studying they are working as many hours as they can in order to pay off student loans, car payments, as well as rent and bills. So forget about going to the movies on a quarter where you’re taking that one class  you need to graduate – these people have to spend all their extra time making ends meet.

I feel very fortunate that I have never had to worry about classes or work. While I do have a job where I work 25 hours a week, I do it to save up money for the future, allowing me plenty of possibilites of residence after graduation in June (granted I pass my classes!)

At Cal Poly, as well as other campuses, many students wonder why there is so much unneeded construction and renovation occurring when the fees could be reallocated to student funding.  We understand the budgets were set years ago, but why not vote on postponing/cancelling these projects and using the money for something more beneficial?

Cal Poly students’ biggest construction complaint is that of the University Union.  While the two – year long construction project is coming along quite nicely, you have to wonder if it was really worth those millions of dollars.

At UCLA, student fees are being used to save a plan to renovate Pauley Pavilion, home of their basketball team. “They said there’s no money, and yet they come up with millions for that building,” said Alma Lopez, a student at UCLA.

There are times where as a student you just want to say “really??!” to situations such as Cal Poly’s summer quarter, which is increasing its tuition (that includes the gym membership) and yet closing the pool. During the summer! Really??!

The pool closure is part of the Rec Center renovations that we voted on three years ago, but I’m pretty sure closing it during the summer (even when there are fewer students) is the one of the most frustrating things they can do. Have you been here over the summer? It gets to be 110°.

Many solutions can be suggested to aid the budget crisis. The first and most obvious would be to increase the budget for the CSU. Luckily, Governor Schwarzenegger heard us and plans to restore $305 million in state funding to the CSU.

Increasing the class size even slightly would also help students. By adding five more seats in each section available, the college would be aiding that many more students toward graduation. While it seems miniscule, every little bit helps.

One last suggestion I have (and I may be biased) is to have fewer renovations! Yes, it looks pretty and modern, and yes it will entice more students to come here and provide more money to the campus. But for the students who already go here, we don’t care about new trees and concrete, we just want our money to go towards our education.

If Cal Poly wants to provide a renovation that is beneficial to students, they should consider building a bar. That would provide money to the campus and relief from all this stress to graduate.

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