CI President Testifies Before California Assembly Committee on Higher Education
CSU Channel Islands (CI) President Richard R. Rush urged California lawmakers to ease burdens on college students and allow enrollment growth by restoring more than a half-billion dollars in funding to the CSU. In testimony before an oversight hearing of the California State Assembly’s Higher Education Committee, Rush joined leaders from the state’s public colleges and universities to explain the impact of affordability on student access and success.
“Despite tuition fee increases, the CSU remains an affordable option for students,” Rush said. “We now need to make sure that the state funds enrollment growth if we are going to have the workforce, community leaders and economic strength we all want for our state in the future.”
Rush was one of 10 asked to testify including representatives from CSU, UC and state community colleges regarding their views and recommendations on California’s higher education affordability structure. The Assembly convened the hearing at UC Santa Barbara to illuminate current challenges from administrator and student perspectives and guide future law and policy.
“I’m tremendously impressed with the testimony here today,” said Assemblyman Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara), Chair of the Committee on Higher Education. “Affordability is not meaningful if we don’t have room for students. … It is not going to happen without us increasing funding. I think this committee is pretty united in increasing that funding and we hope that will go forward.”
President Rush told legislators that the most pressing concerns on campus are access and quality. Since the economic downturn, the CSU has had to turn away between 20,000 and 28,000 students each year. As a result, he said, the CSU serves more students than funding allows. State funding for 2012-13 equaled 1996-97 levels, but the CSU served an additional 90,000 students and was overenrolled by about 3 percent.
Several CI students voiced their concerns during the hearing’s public comment forum.
“Apathy amongst CSU students is a lie,” said CI Student Government President Vanessa Bahena. “They are hungry and passionate for success. The bottleneck that the CSU system is facing is not only preventing them from going through the university but also from letting the university experience go through them. For those of you who have gone through the CSU system, I urge you to remember the struggles and barriers you faced and for those who have not gone through the CSU system, I urge you to explore the success stories of CSU graduates.”
For more information on the California Assembly Committee on Higher Education, visit http://ahed.assembly.ca.gov/committeehome or Assemblyman Das Williams’ website at http://www.asmdc.org/members/a37/.