CSU Channel Islands Tries to Weather CSU's Budget Cuts

Formerly the Camarillo State Mental Hospital, Cal State University Channel Islands opened it's1930s Spanish Revival buildings to students in 2002. Charged with expectations of growth and prosperity, the campus didn't foresee the economic downturn that would ultimately force the university to halt its progress and cap enrollment.

The 23rd and most recent of the Cal State Universities, CSU Channel Islands has felt the pain from a $625 million loss in state support the entire university system has suffered over the last couple of years. The system that serves almost 433,000 students and employs 44,000 faculty and staff members, has been forced to cut 40,000 students from its enrollment, increase student fees by 32 percent, as well as cut course offerings and enforce faculty layoffs and furloughs.

"So you have three really big things negatively impacting the educational experience in a university that's designed to give all members of California the opportunity to become educated and become the future of California's workforce, said Kevin Schallert," the student government president at CSU Channel Islands.

The budget problems and fee increases that have cut many students out of the CSU system run counter to the California Master Plan for Higher Education. It was created in 1960 with the sole intent to ensure higher education was available to everyone regardless of economic means. Other states have since modeled their university systems on California's plan because they found it worked well.

"North Carolina, and so forth, imitated the California Master Plan. The only difference is they're actually remaining faithful to it," said Stephen Lefevre, CSU Channel Islands associate vice president of academic programs and planning. "California has got to turn that around."

But with CSU Channel Islands alone dealing with a 12-14 percent budget cut and an inability to grow its student population, the current forecast doesn't look promising for California's higher education.

That is why Schallert, along with the other members of the California State Student Association, started a Made In The CSU campaign, which seeks to put numbers to the real value of the Cal State University.

"Showing that 64 percent of all nurses in California came out of the CSU can really quantify to members of the community and hopefully push for more funding," said Schallert. And increased funding and support from the state is exactly what CSU Channel Islands needs in order grow and better serve Ventura County and California's student population.

"The CSU is called the people's university because it focuses on access, affordability and quality, said Schallert. "The population that they really have served has historically been the underserved populations in California. So by serving these populations and giving individuals that have been previously disenfranchised in education, you are giving them a voice and the opportunity to contribute to their families, to the state and to the future."

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