Today, students and faculty across California are marching to save public higher education. In support of their activism, the Courage Campaign today is joining the University of California Students Association (UCSA) and the California Faculty Association (CFA) to launch a campaign to restore affordability to our public colleges and universities. We're excited to share this message from Tommy Le, a UCSA organizer and current student at UC Santa Cruz, about the devastating impact of recent budget cuts and fee increases on students like him.
Please read his message below and then join us in taking action to save Tommy's dream of getting a college degree -- and the dreams of so many students like him across California:
Public Policy Director, Courage Campaign
Dear friend --
When I was younger, a counselor told me I would never attend college.
My parents were immigrants -- my mother worked in a sweatshop and my father made furniture. At times my parents didn't have enough money to pay for food. Paying for college was something they could not afford. My background led that counselor and others to doubt whether I could succeed in school. But I persevered and, despite that counselor's lack of faith in me, I became the first person in my family to go to college.
After all of the obstacles I've overcome to get to UC Santa Cruz, now I don't know if I can stay -- if I can even afford to finish my degree. Our fees have risen every year that I've been here. In 2010 students in the UC system are facing a 30% annual increase in fees that will bring the cost of attending UC Santa Cruz to over $10,000 per year. My friends at Cal State campuses and community colleges have faced similar increases, even as teachers are laid off and classes cut.
By drastically cutting school budgets at the same time they raise fees to unaffordable levels, California's leaders are risking my dream -- and the dreams of students across the state -- of getting a college education.
That's why students across California are participating in a nationwide day of action on March 4 to protest the cuts and fee increases. But that is just the start. If we are going to begin to fix to higher education so we can create jobs and lasting prosperity, we must bring in new revenues from the large corporations that aren't paying their fair share to support our colleges and universities.
We can start by demanding that oil companies that drill in California give some of their profits to help students afford to stay in school. Please join me, the Courage Campaign, CFA and UCSA and support the Oil and Gas Severance Tax Act (AB 656) -- a bill in our state legislature that can make higher education affordable again. Just click here to show your support:
California is the only major oil-producing state in the country that does not tax the extraction of oil from our land. Texas uses an oil severance tax to fund its public colleges and universities. Even Sarah Palin's Alaska has an oil severance tax.
But we don't. Instead we give big oil companies a multi-billion dollar tax break while students like me struggle to afford an education. That's why it's time to stand up for students by supporting the Oil and Gas Severance Act in the state legislature.
AB 656 would create a 12% tax on the extraction of oil in California. At current oil prices, that would generate over $2 billion a year in revenue that would go directly to the University of California, the California State University, and California Community College systems to roll back the fee increases.
I shouldn't have to worry about whether I can stay in school just so big oil companies can avoid paying their fair share. That's why I'm asking you to stand with me, Courage Campaign, CFA and UCSA in pledging to support AB 656, the Oil and Gas Severance Tax Act. Click here to stand up to the oil companies and show your support for students across California:
Thank you for taking a stand to help students like me afford to pursue our dreams.
Senior, UC Santa Cruz