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SSU president urges students to press governor over budget cuts

SSU president Ruben Armiñana spoke to a group of about 25 students at a rally decrying cuts in the budget for the state university system. (John Burgess / PD)


Sonoma State University’s president told students Thursday to press Gov. Jerry Brown to stop cutting and to restore funding to the state’s public higher education system.

“This is a self-inflicted wound that will have great repercussions in this state,” Ruben Armiñana said, urging students to focus their activism on the governor over legislators. “Usually, what the governor proposes is 98 percent of what the budget is.”

He spoke at a campus gathering of about 25 students who have joined in a statewide campaign to protest budget cuts that have led to higher tuition, larger classes and the layoffs of thousands of lecturers.

The state has slashed $750 million from the California State University budget in the past year and another $200 million cut is threatened if voters reject proposed tax hikes in November. SSU’s state funding has dropped about $50 million since 2008, to $46 million.

CSU tuition has climbed to $5,472 a year from $1,428 in 2001. At SSU, including fees, full-time students now pay $6,862 a year.

Commenting later on Thursday’s smaller-than-hoped-for showing, Armiñana said students must assert themselves more strongly in the politics.

“They feel powerless and when you feel powerless you don’t participate,” he said.

“They’re not powerless but they’re not very good at exercising their power through the ballot box,” he said. “Members of the legislature know that they don’t have to fear them.”

Dubbed the Bucks Start Here, to emphasize the economic benefits of an educated workforce, the student-led protest campaign is built around a symbolic collection of faux $650 million bills on which students have written how budget cuts have hit them.

Associated Students president Alex Boyar said SSU students have contributed 850 stories to the mound of blue notes piled in a clear, plexiglass cube making its way around CSU’s 23 campuses.

“It’s really a desperate situation,” Boyar said.

“I haven’t been able to get all the classes I need to graduate in a timely manner,” said one speaker, fifth-year senior Ashley Yarbrough, sounding a frequent theme.

Another speaker, Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane, said the bachelor’s and master’s degrees she had earned at Chico State and SSU had enabled her “to do the things I’ve been able to do to serve the community.”

Now, she said, the governor is “dismantling” the higher education system that his father, Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, governor from 1959 to 1967, helped build into one of the world’s most respected.

“Tell the governor that this is not acceptable,” Zane said.

As the rally wound down, one organizer waylaid a student passing by Stevenson Hall to class, encouraging her to tell her story on a faux bank note.

Julia Ramos, a sophomore, took the opportunity, writing, “I can’t graduate on time because I can’t get enough classes.”

Asked how she knew that already, Ramos gave an answer that could be taken as a measure of the lowered expectations now commonplace on campus.

“I’m assuming,” she said.

You can reach Staff Writer Jeremy Hay at 521-5212 or jeremy.hay@pressdemocrat.com.

12 Responses to “SSU president urges students to press governor over budget cuts”

  1. Skippy says:

    That is one sad pitiful photograph.

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  2. Joseph says:

    When the president of Santa Rosa Junior College speaks, it is to a packed house. This president of Sonoma State spoke to no-one. Sad state`of affairs.

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  3. With a reported income of $341,283, plus an alleged $60,000 housing allowance and $12,000 car allowance. Mr. Arminana seems to be one of the 1% that progressives like him claim to loathe.

    At any rate. for that money, he should take up the cause with the Governor himself, instead of inciting his students to do his evangelizing for him.

    I was also amused by the stunning lack of people who turned out to hear their own leader speak. At ultra-progressive SSU, even a wacko like Ron Paul could probably attracted more supporters.

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  4. Follower says:

    My kid always threw a fit when ever I took his candy away too.

    But the he grew up & found out that you don’t get candy just because you’re a kid. You actually have to do something to deserve it.

    Perhaps I would have better prepared him for the “hope & change” America had I taught him to convince all the other parents to take some of their kids candy & give it too him.

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  5. truth in news says:

    Why the free lunch? If you want an education get off your bottom and pay for it. Don’t expect my tax dollars to provide a college degree for you. The “I’ve got my hand out, who is going to put money in it” mentality needs to stop. Don’t like it? Get a job and pay for it or shut up.

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  6. John Angus says:

    Awww, Ruben is afraid his salary will be cut. He may have to live in the dorms. Aww

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  7. Joseph says:

    Sonoma State, where the students write on walls and call it art. Where public art is`at risk for the reason art students want to smash it up for their own bronze castings. Little wonder they call the school East Los Angelos Norte.

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  8. Canthisbe says:

    Half the people there are not even listing to Armiñana. They are talking to each other and setting up there little tables for who knows what issues. The guy on the left is the guest opinion professor who wrote that the OWS Movement was on the rise. The guy on the far left is just hitting on the girl. How much did it cost to had university union employees set up and take down that stage? It would have been cheaper if he just invited them in to his conference room for coffee. Julia, who wrote, “I can’t graduate on time because I can’t get enough classes” by just assuming must have skipped those “critical thinking classes” we are always hearing about.
    The reporter assumes her lack of logic “could be taken as a measure of the lowered expectations now commonplace on campus”. May be we need higher expectations of our college students.
    Where’s Waldo?

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  9. Back To School says:

    Maybe the free ride is over. How many Green Music Centers does SSU really need? How many supercilious programs does SSU need? All of those “special studies” programs like ethnic studies, women students, gay studies, and every other special interest group studies programs need to be eliminated.

    Focus on programs that lead to real jobs and a future in the 21st century. Stop offering high school repeat classes at the university level. If they didn’t get it in high school they need to go to night school.

    Bottom line, start educating students instead of indoctrinating them in the wonders of a socialist, elitist but always green, society.

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  10. Commonsense says:

    How about the students start taking a long and hard look at the finances of SSU. How about they inquire about exactly where their tuition dollars are going. How about they inquire about how much money SSU gets in Federal and State grants, outside of general funds from the State budget. How about they start asking SSU president about how they invest their money and about the number of administrators employed by SSU.
    How about the students do a little independant research of their own before they conclude their is a revenue problem.

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  11. Reality Check says:

    It would be helpful if those who want more spending would identify how this should be paid for, which taxes would they would raise or which programs would they cut. Instead, they just demand more.

    Long ago, when fees to attend college were much smaller, a smaller percentage of students went to college. The doctrine that says “everyone should go to college” is expensive.

    The other reality is, is the money well spent? Does society or student benefit when students come out of college with a mountain of debt and degrees in fields not in demand?

    Mr. Armiñana may believe in the product he’s selling, but society has a right to question whether the product he’s pushing is worth the price.

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  12. Dan Drummond says:

    Here’s an idea. Instead of taking it to the governor, how about taking it to the Democratic legislators such as Michael Allen who refuse to act on the governor’s pension reform proposal. As watered down as it is, it’s the only game in town and at least it focuses on the real issue. Reform the pension issue and free up the money for education.

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