The fight for higher education funding continues as 25 SSU student government leaders returned from the March 5 rally in Sacramento more empowered than ever to work towards change.
SSU's contingent joined more than 10,000 students from all over California in front of the state capitol to protest budget cuts and rising student fees. The cuts have kept 22,000 students from being admitted to the CSU system and spiked tuition fees up 200 percent since 2008.
"We know students voices were heard that day," says Sean Richards, SSU student and Vice President of Legislative Affairs for the California State Student Association.
One of their biggest demands, that the Legislature deny the Governor's proposal to raise the requirements to receive a CalGrant, was met on Wednesday when the Assembly Subcommittee on Education Spending unanimously shot down the Governor's proposal.
"We are very proud of what we have been able to accomplish and it shows that when students unite and raise their voices, we are heard, he says.
Associated Student president Alex Boyar said the event was inspiring and that many state legislators appeared who were not normally seen at these kinds of rallies. "I think they have begun listening to us."
As part of the California State Student Association's advocacy day, SSU's group brought with them more than 945 "bucks" - part of the CSU's 'Buck Starts Here" Campaign - aimed at dramatically telling the stories of current students and their college experience.
SSU's own 'Buck Starts Here Campaign' rally was small but successful on February 28, and the campus' 945 bucks were the third highest collected per capita out of the 23 CSU campuses.
The 'Buck Starts Here' rally was held in protest of Governor Jerry Brown's proposal to cut yet another $200 million from the state education budget in November. Public higher education has already lost $750 million, or more than 30 percent, from its budget this year alone, which has had dramatic effect on class sizes, availability and graduation rates.
The California State Student Association launched the campaign on November 7, 2011 as a way to unify the 412,000 students at all CSU campuses and raise awareness about the dire situation of the education system.
Students wrote how budget cuts have affected not only their education, but also their lives on a mock $650 million bill with the governor's face on it. The bucks were then put into a box, which traveled up the state to each CSU campus.
"The advocacy march was designed to hold the legislature accountable and generate public demand for higher education to be accessible and affordable for students," said Katie Havens, Statewide Issues Senator for the Associated Students, and the organizer of the Bucks Start Here Campaign at SSU.
Unfortunately students were unable to speak with the governor last week but it has been rescheduled for April.