The Students for Quality Education (SQE) convened to discuss the California State University (CSU) system’s response to the coronavirus pandemic in a press conference via Zoom on May 1.
SQE is a statewide student-led organization advocating for student needs and equitable access to resources across all 23 CSU campuses and is open for all CSU students to join.
Cal Poly Pomona’s SQE chapter collaborated with its fellow students and the SQE chapters across the CSU to curate a list of demands for the CSU system regarding the procedures that have taken place due to COVID-19.
“The CSU system students need far more sustainable support from the system as a whole and their individual campuses in the wake of their campus closure and forced transition to online learning,” said Mei Curry, an SQE member from CSU Stanislaus in the meeting.
In light of the class-action lawsuit filed April 27 against the CSU in which students called for refunds of mandatory fees for on-campus services, SQE demands that students receive a full reimbursement for campus fees and services which have been suspended as part of the CSU system’s response to COVID-19.
SQE demands transparency and the implementation of a paid student task force, named by SQE, to oversee the distribution of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds.
SQE also demands safe and free housing during this pandemic for those who are left without shelter due to campus closures, a set date for an in-person commencement ceremony for the graduating class of 2020 and student input during emergency circumstances.
In solidarity with the faculty and staff of each CSU campus, SQE demands that they receive the same pay now as they would during in-person instruction.
“We came up with this list of demands because we felt that these are the main things the CSU system needs to be doing,” said Sarah Sandoval, a fifth-year English education student.
After surveying students, the demands were geared to focus on the well-being and financial security of students and faculty.
According to the student survey SQE conducted among CSU students in which 3,277 students responded, 275 students said they were food insecure. Students were also asked if they knew of the resources available to them. Of the 3,277 students that responded, 43% were unsure if their campus provided computers to students in need, 53% were unsure if their campus provided alternative housing and 50% were unsure if the CSU was providing paid leave for student workers.
Among the 77 CPP students that responded to the survey, 5.3% said they did not have access to reliable food.
“The reality of our students cannot be ignored be it fighting for a living wage, healthcare, affordable housing…this is more pertinent now with COVID-19 in which students are demanding resources to help them sustain and survive,” said Margarita Berta-Avila, professor of education and California Faculty Association’s chapter president at Sacramento State University in the meeting.
Since the press conference took place, the university has sent additional information to students regarding the CARES Act and commencement. With only a week left of the spring semester, students are still left in the dark regarding answers related to the future of instruction.
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