SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - Chants could be heard echoing across the campus of San Francisco State University on Tuesday as part of a student-organized, statewide walkout across the California State University System.
A student coalition has formed across several CSU campuses to speak out against the CSU Board of Trustees' plan to raise tuition over the next five years.
The walkout came months after the tuition increase was announced. Students built a coalition across several CSU campuses to speak out against the hike in prices, which is set to begin with a $342 increase for students next school year.
"I'm in a position where I have to be the one to pay for the majority of my schooling, and seeing this hike is a little discouraging as someone who is here to better my future," a student named Katalina Ruiz told KTVU.
Ruiz says tuition raises aren't her only concern.
"Our housing increased about $100 per month, depending on which kind of lease you got could go up $900-$1,200," Ruiz said.
Some students face even more challenging scenarios than others. Alexis Hernandez is a second-year student at SFSU.
"I'm a first-generation university student, so money is already tight in my family..."
Students also worry about their ability to get into the classes they need for their majors.
"If classes are getting cut, we're not going to graduate on time," Hernandez said. "With already paying so much...why are you raising our tuition while cutting half of our programs."
She says that this area is expensive, and it's tough to see that money going towards things other than students.
"San Francisco is an expensive city, and we're already paying thousands and thousands of dollars to be here... and we pay so much money and we don't see it come back to our community at all," Hernandez said.
Kristian Bekele, a student representative for House Black, a group dedicated to the needs of Black and transgender students on campus says college should not be a high-cost experience.
"I believe that school should be free, that university should be free, because, like I said in that speech before, to learn is to be human," Bekele said.
Bekele worries for the future of not just schooling, but our country if the CSU system becomes unaffordable
"I hate to say it, but I think it'll be a collapse of America," she told KTVU.
"Learning institutions are one of the few places that are able to nurture a person into becoming a better person." Bekele said. "If we're not able to do that for everyone in our society, we're not really a democratic society, we're not really an advanced society. Frankly, it's just back to feudalism for me."
SFSU provided a statement to KTVU about the walkout:
"We are sympathetic to the financial burden that students face with rising costs. CSU tuition is set centrally by the Board of Trustees. Tuition has been flat for 11 of the last 12 years through 23-24. While this has maintained affordability, it has also prevented the CSU from having sufficient resources to keep up with rising costs and support for student initiatives."
SFSU tells KTVU that tuition prices are set by the board of trustees, but the administration is 'sympathetic' to the rising costs for students. The university says 60% of undergrads will be unaffected by the tuition increase because they are covered by grants or waivers, and the remaining 40% have tuition partially covered or a family income over $127K.