Tuition Relief Now is the first ever student-led ballot initiative to take place in California, that, if passed, would freeze tuition for five years beginning July 1, 2009 for resident undergraduate students at UC and CSU campuses.
The campaign is funded by Greenlining Action, a non-profit public policy organization based in Berkeley, Calif., which drew up ‘The College Affordability Act of 2008.’ The law will prevent any future tuition increases from exceeding the inflation index. The act was submitted to the California secretary of state who made it an official petition. The petition, however, will need 434,000 signatures from registered voters by Apr. 17, 2008 in order to become a proposition on the November 2008 ballot. The organization is present on 30 campuses across California and so far has collected 1,400 signatures.
Unlike other ballot-initiative campaigns that often spend numerous amounts of money campaigning, Tuition Relief Now is heavily volunteer-driven as Lead Organizer Valeria Fike Rosales explained.
‘The difference between this campaign and others is that we’re taking the issue straight to the ballot, back to the people; there is a definite need for tuition relief,’ Rosales said.
The organization is composed of students, parents and other concerned Californians working to ensure that tuition does not continue to rise and that every student can afford college. Jesse Cheng, a second-year Asian-American studies major, is the lead organizer at UC Irvine.
‘We’ve lobbied and rallied and have been ignored. The ballot is our weapon of change and it definitely makes a statement saying that we as students do have political willpower,’ Cheng said.
So far, UCI has collected over 100 signatures.
Lead organizer at Cal State University, San Marcos, Felipe Robinson-Zanartu is a fifth-year women’s studies major. Zanartu expressed sentiments similar to Cheng’s.
‘Students are not being taken seriously and politicians have resolved that the age group of 18 to 22 years does not vote in significant numbers