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Letter to the Editor: An open letter to our community

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We the undersigned faculty of California State University, San Bernardino, are reaching out to our fellow community members to inform them about the current threat to public higher education and how it will affect all of us living in the Inland Empire. We hope you will join us in defending a precious community resource that has delivered personal, social, and economic success to thousands of families during our 45 years of existence.

CSUSB has educated today's political and business leaders, nurses, teachers, civil servants, working professionals and countless others.

We fear, however, that current trends threaten our ability to continue to offer students access to a high-quality, affordable education that will position them for success in the job market and not leave them laden with enormous student loan debts.

Since 2002, student fees at Cal States have increased by over 260%. This is an unprecedented tax on those who can least afford it. The state must stop hiking student fees to offset funding cuts to the Cal State system. By raising student tuition, we are limiting the ability of our students and their families to afford a college education.

In addition to fees, student access to an education at CSUSB is directly linked to funding from the state. At CSUSB, chronic underfunding has already meant reductions in faculty jobs, overcrowded classes, fewer available courses, and delays in student time to graduation. Last year, for the first time in its history, Cal State denied admission to 40,000 eligible students state-wide. At CSUSB, 1,500 eligible students were turned away. The prospect of additional budget cuts this year is very real. If the governor's proposed tax extensions are not enacted, the Cal State system could suffer up to an additional $1 billion reduction in funding – this represents a quarter of the system’s budget! With a “cuts only” budget, we risk turning away thousands more from the CSU. Our elected leaders must find ways to see past partisan politics and do what’s best for our state’s future.

In these times of economic crisis people need more educational opportunities, not less. If we continue to diminish opportunities to attain a public higher education, the future result will be a more undereducated and underpaid labor force, resulting in poor economic performance for our region and the state. It would mean additional stress on our local economy, and less tax revenue for our cities while creating more need for public services, at a time when critical public services are also being drastically defunded.

For our part, California Faculty Association, the CSUSB faculty union, will do everything we can to ensure access to all those who wish to attend the university. This includes holding the CSU Chancellor accountable for decisions made in recent years to increase the numbers and salaries of top level administrators, as well as hire high-priced private consultants for pet projects, instead of prioritizing student instruction and services.

We need your help. California lawmakers must understand that higher education is not a cost but an economic benefit to our community.

Every dollar invested in CSUSB results in more than four dollars in economic activity generated by our graduates. In these hard times, cutting funding to CSUSB is bad economic policy.

Together we have the power to protect CSUSB for present and future generations of students and their families. We urge you to stand with us and help us defend our University! Please write or call your local representatives in state government and tell them that keeping CSUSB strong is essential to you, your children and future generations in our region. (Find your local legislator at:

http://www. legislature.ca.gov/portzipsearch.html)

If we work together, we can ensure that CSUSB continues to serve our community. We must join together to protect our region’s most valuable asset.

CSUSB Faculty

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