Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Who is the Campaign for College Opportunity?

I just got a copy of a letter sent from the California non-profit Campaign for College Opportunity addressed to Gov. Schwarzenegger that made a number of recommendations on how they felt budget cuts should affect California's higher education systems. The part that seemed to raise the ire of a number of students is this recommendation:
We have carefully reviewed the latest budget proposals from your office and the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) and we recommend the following:

Support fee increases to $30 a unit for the 2009-10 school year and $40 a unit for the 2010-11 school year, as long as the Board of Governors fee waiver program for low income students remain in place.
Let's just say that Community College students are less than pleased.

A quick look at the Campaign's mission statement states that their mission is "to ensure our state produces one million additional college graduates, between now and 2025, to meet the workforce demands of the future and ensure California's economic prosperity..."

Now how exactly does raising student fees and thus making college more unaffordable and inaccessible work towards this mission?? It would seem that advocating to raise student fees would create less "College Opportunity", and would seemingly be the last thing such an organization would advocate for.

However, once you take a look at who's running the Campaign for College Opportunity, more specifically the top three board members listed, the picture starts to become more clear:

Bill Hauck - Co-Founder and Chair
Hauck is also the President of the California Business Roundtable, "a statewide, nonpartisan organization composed of chief executive officers of California's leading corporations," and is also an active member of the CSU Board of Trustees, the CSU's governing body that each year since 2003, has voted on increasing CSU student fees. No one represents Big Business better than Hauck, and you can bet that while while his buddies continue to avoid paying taxes through tax loopholes he has had no problem voting in favor of what has arguably been labeled "a tax on students" in the form of continued CSU student fee increases.

Let's continue on with the next two Campaign board members:

Roberta Achtenberg
Roberta served as Chair of the CSU Board of Trustees from 2006-2008. And just like Hauck, she's voted for a fee increase for CSU students every time it's been brought before her.

Herb Carter
Herb Carter is the current Vice Chair of the CSU Board of Trustees, and also is the only member of the Campaign for College Opportunity to publicly list his title in the organization as, "Trustee, California State University." And like the other two before him, he has voted in favor of each CSU student fee increase brought before him.


So what we have here is three active CSU Trustee board members who have played a large role in decreasing student affordability and accessibility in the CSU system, masquerading in a non-profit which claims to focus on increasing accessibility in higher education. So it comes as no surprise that the architects behind raising fees within the CSU have now come around to advocating that the same should be done in the Community College system!

Cheer up Community College students, it could have been much worse: at least Hauck & Co. don't have voting power over your fee increases like they do over say, ahem, the CSU system!

Note: Frederick Ruiz, another Campaign board member, also sits on the University of California Board of Regents, who as a body have also consistently raised student fees in the UC system as well. I have chosen not to focus on him, as I am unaware of his individual voting history within the UC Board of Regents.