The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

Students, faculty protest tuition hikes and working conditions

The California Faculty Association, along with other labor unions and Sonoma state
students, held a protest and march across campus on Oct. 17 to rally against the 34
percent tuition hike, low wages for faculty, and other working conditions. Along with
the CFA, student organizations such as MEChA de Sonoma and Students for Quality
Education joined the protest on Tuesday afternoon. The Teamsters Union, Academic
Professionals of California, United Auto Workers, and the California State University
Employees Union were also present. Students and faculty gathered in front of Lobo’s before marching around campus, protesting the current working conditions, lack of benefits, and tuition increases.

Some of CFA’s proposals and demands included a ratio of 1,500 students to each counselor, a national standard, which the CSU management rejected. CSU management also rejected a proposal ensuring restrooms for trans and nonbinary students, increased parental leave, and safer precautions for policing on campus.

“Given the fact that the CSU pushed for that tuition increase before they granted
any negotiations to any of the labor groups, they are banking on the fact that students
will overlook the fact that there is no value provided,” said Damien Wilson, labor outreach and community chair of Sonoma State’s CFA chapter and business administration professor.

“CSU has made a point of trying to connect those tuition increases, saying that
has been the way that they are going to fund salary increases by the different labor
groups,” said Wilson. “Each labor group is actually after more benefits than they are
after a salary increase.”

The union is holding a strike authorization vote from Oct. 21 to Oct. 27, and as of now, is in the fact-finding process. A strike would entail CFA Union members from across the state
withholding their labor; no grading, teaching, or advising.

Jonathan Puthuff, a third-year Business and Marketing major, heard the unions and
student coalitions protesting on Thursday while working in Stevenson Hall.

“I’ve always been an advocate for free college. So any increase in price I’m against
it, if it affects the student,” said Puthuff. Puthuff also said that if the unions were as vocal as they were Tuesday and if deals come soon, he would understand the need for a strike.

“It’s the last resort. No one wants to strike” said Napoleon Reyes, criminology and
criminal justice studies professor and Sonoma’s CFA President. “But if it has to come
to that so that we can advocate for the interests of faculty and the students, and we can
ensure that moving forward we’ll get a fair equitable deal for students and faculty, then
we’re willing to go on strike.”

Dr. Reyes said that his department has already lost four lecturers. “With that, we
cannot offer more sections. That delays graduation.”

At the protest, some union members brought drums and whistles, with nearly all
protestors chanting a variety of worker and labor chants; students, faculty, and non-union
members alike.

“Seeing the Sonoma State community come together to fight against a common
problem gives me hope that those in power of this tuition hike will hopefully hear the
voice of the people in reversing this decision,” said Cuauhtemoc Noriega Valdivia, Vice
President of MEChA de Sonoma.

“There is a part of me that does have doubts. Seeing that many organizations across
campus such as MEChA collected nearly 100 signatures of students who were all against
this hike, and yet our voices were pushed to the side makes me doubt how powerful our
voices truly are,” said Valdivia. “This isn’t going to stop me by any means as progress
isn’t linear and if a future where this hike is reversed is out there, me and other students
will continue to fight for it.”

Many students who did not attend Tuesday’s protest were unaware of the tuition in-
crease, as well as the protest itself.

“This is my first time experiencing this,” said Erin Gapasin, first-year pre-nursing
major. “My professor said that if the faculty does end up striking, all classes will be
paused. So I don’t know how that’s going go. I think everyone knows that the pay rate for
teachers is not very high, so I think it would make sense for them to strike,” said Gapasin.

Kyle Drewes, a computer science major, and fourth-year transfer student, currently pays around five thousand for tuition.“[The Unions] have my support just because I already have to pay a lot of tuition as it is.” said Drewes.

Nima Hejazi, a third-year business management major, expressed worry about the
chances of a strike. “I think that would be terrible, because what happens to the learning
process in classes and stuff like that?” said Hejazi. “I understand this is a very serious

Ana Dacruz, a fourth-year criminology major, said that she had heard about the pro-
test but wasn’t able to make it due to an appointment.

“I’m lucky enough to not have to worry about the increase in tuition because I’ll be
gone by that time,” said Dacruz. “But I’m going to support and stand behind the teachers and
the professors and the students that choose to [strike]. 100 percent.”

Donate to Sonoma State Star

Your donation will support the student journalists of Sonoma State University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Albert Levine
Albert Levine, Staff Writer
Albert Levine is a third year communication studies major at Sonoma State.
Donate to Sonoma State Star