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Cal State trustees approve 20% fee hike, faculty and staff furloughs [Corrected]

July 21, 2009 |  3:58 pm

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As several hundred students shouted "vote no" just outside the door, California State University trustees voted this afternoon to raise student fees by 20% for this fall and furlough all staff, including college presidents, two days a month.

Chancellor Charles Reed warned of mass layoffs if faculty unions refuse to go along with the furlough plan. The fee increase will bring university charges to $4,861, not including campus fees, room, board and books.

(Corrected, 5:20 p.m.: The fee increase will bring university charges to $4,026, not including campus fees, room board and books.)

Spokeswoman Claudia Keith said after the meeting that thousands of part-time instructors would be let go, and 22,000 courses -- 15% of those currently offered -- could be canceled if the furlough plan fails to win approval from faculty.

Two dozen students, some of whom had also urged trustees to turn down a 10% fee increase approved in May, spoke bitterly against the hikes, saying trustees were slamming the door on first-generation, largely minority students in the 23-campus system.

"Our classes are overcrowded, our teachers are exhausted -- I'm exhausted, I work three jobs in order to go to school," said Sonoma State student Kia Kolderup-Lane.

Many blamed the trustees for failing to persuade state politicians to raise revenue to support higher education.

California Faculty Assn. President Lillian Taiz accused the trustees of "down-sizing" the university and shutting the door on "opportunity for a generation."

But board President Jeffrey Bleich said the blame belongs to Sacramento's dysfunctional budget process and failure to approve any new revenue sources.

"If you look at the budget...it's $16 billion in cuts and $9 billion in gimmicks," Bleich said. He also called Cal State's share of the budget cuts, $584 million, a financial "tsunami," equivalent to the cost of educating every child in North Dakota.

The trustees walked out of the meeting behind a police line holding back hundreds of students, some clutching young children, shouting "Shame on you."

Outside, San Francisco State senior Honora Keller quietly wept.

"I was also here in May and presented them with alternatives, but they refused to look at it," she said. "But it's the same exact story. Put it on the students."

Cal State also plans to cut its 250,000 enrollment by 40,000 students over the next two years, and individual Cal State campuses will have to split an additional $183 million in cuts.

-- Gale Holland

Photo: A demonstrator is detained by CSU safety officers after he was spotted allegedly painting graffiti near the Glenn S. Dumke Auditorium. Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

More photos Photos: Students protest