HAYWARD — The fax machines in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office may still be printing messages.
Students, faculty and staff at Cal State East Bay and its sister campuses on Wednesday flooded those lines with hundreds of faxes in response to proposed midyear cuts to the Cal State University system's already depleted budget.
The system's nearly $4.5 billion budget for this year was initially trimmed by $215 million as part of Schwarzenegger's plan to tackle the state deficit, with an additional $31.3 million being taken away to fulfill a request from the Department of Finance, officials said.
But now the governor is looking to ax another $66.3 million at a time when administrators at most Cal State campuses are turning away qualified students for the first time in order to balance the books and preserve quality.
About $3 million would be cut from Cal State East Bay, which has a current annual budget of $146 million.
"We want to make sure that CSU doesn't experience any more budget cuts," said Kellie Trauner, a senior at Cal State East Bay and intern with the California Faculty Association, or CFA. "The quality of education is not as high as it should be."
Trauner and other protesters set up in front of Cal State East Bay's student union Wednesday afternoon to urge people to sign faxes saying they strongly oppose any more cuts to the Cal State system. Similar events took place at the Cal State system's campuses in San Jose, San Francisco, Sacramento and Sonoma.
Shawn Bibb, the university's chief financial officer, said campus officials plan to delay filling employment vacancies and renewing computer supplies as part of a strategy to save money and meet the demands of the one-time cuts.
Cal State East Bay is already operating with $3.2 million less than it had in the last school year. In addition, student fees have significantly risen — by 113 percent since 2002.
"Students are getting less, but paying more," said Tom McCoy, a communications professor at Cal State East Bay and the campus chapter president for CFA.
"More cuts will choke off the California economic engine at a time it needs to be promoted."
Rising fees was a main reason why student Lacey Lawson — a senior who plans to become a teacher — signed a fax Wednesday.
"The cuts and high costs will just keep people from getting into noble professions that don't make a lot of money," she said.
Organizers at Cal State East Bay were able to get 154 faxes signed Wednesday, and plan to continue collecting and sending faxes until Dec. 1.
Trauner said she considered the faxing effort a success — even though many students were unwilling to sign the faxes.
"It's one of those things that will get to them eventually," she said. "They're the ones paying higher fees. They're the ones who can't get into classes they need. They're the ones experiencing a decline in the quality of their education. They'll come around. It's something important to do for all of us."
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