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How Students Organized to Help Pass Prop 30

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Andrew Stelzer

UC Berkeley students bring sodas to others still waiting to vote

As dark fell on election night, UC’s Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza was packed with students watching election returns on a Jumbotron TV.  But the event’s hosts weren’t just handing out cotton candy and T-shirts.  They were still trying to get out the vote.  Every half hour, the event's MC took the microphone and urged students to "call 5 friends, change their Facebook statuses, and leverage their networks" to push Prop 30 to passage.

"If (Prop 30) does not pass, UC tuition shoots up projected by 20 percent.  And we don’t want that to happen, Bears,” a voice boomed over the soundsystem.

Besides supporting President Obama's re-election bid, the second-most-mentioned issue by students on the plaza was Prop 30.

"There's a lot of people trying to gain support for Prop 30 just so we can reinvest in public education," said sophmore Senayha Singh.

“I have a lot of friends who are international students, and a 20 percent tuition hike would really be detrimental for any of them, and even for my family," Singh added.

By 7:30, when news came down that hundreds of students were still lined up to vote at several polling stations, volunteers teamed up to bring candy and soda as encouragement to stay in line.

At the Unit 3 building, the last person allowed to get in line before 8 pm was freshman Jason Wang, who said his voting priorities were "Proposition 30 and funding from taxes.”

Wang and others like him helped push Prop 30 to victory.  Exit polls suggest that about a quarter of the California electorate was between 18 and 29 years old.  That may exceed 2008’s record turnout.  It’s a sign of growing political power for young people throughout the state that could lead to more change.
 
"It shouldn’t just be a fight about fighting back future fee hikes and tuition increases", says UCLA student government member Hinnaneh Qazi.
 
"There should also be a conversation of what can we do to make the UC system more affordable than it is right now, which in truth it isn’t really affordable for all.”
 
But election week also brought a reality check. Cal State’s board of trustees announced they will be discussing three new fee increases Tuesday. CSU officials say despite Proposition 30's approval they still don't have enough space to serve all the students qualified to receive an education from the 23-campus system, which also needs help closing its budget gap.  The proposed fee increases would impact students who want to repeat a class, take more than the regular full-time course load or take more classes than they need to graduate. If approved, the new fees are expected to generate about $30 million annually.
 

 

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