The Bronco Justice Coalition addresses open letter to President Coley ahead of tuition increase and potential strike

By Aaron Coloma, Oct. 31, 2023

The Bronco Justice Coalition announced its first major action Oct. 16, sending an open letter to Cal Poly Pomona President Soraya M. Coley calling on her to support the repeal of the recent tuition increase and stand with faculty in their bargaining efforts.

The newly formed coalition consisting of the Bronco Young Democratic Socialists of America, CPP Students for Quality Education and the Student Initiative for Justice released a statement addressing the California State University system’s decision to raise tuition by up to 34% by the 2029-2030 academic year and expressing its support for staff and faculty’s recent advocacy for salary increases and other benefits.

Student leaders such as Bronco YDSA Outreach Coordinator Elliot Summers, a second-year psychology student, hope the letter will help the administration understand the effects of these changes on the student body.

“Hopefully it’s a wake-up call to Coley and the admin because really nobody’s happy with the changes that are being made, including the tuition hike,” Summers said. “Faculty isn’t happy; students aren’t happy. It’s not providing any benefits for us to be raising tuition, so hopefully they’ll put our needs first and try to open up their eyes to what students need.”

Summers further explained how the increase in tuition goes against what the CSU system was integrated to do and why students and faculty alike are fighting the changes.

“The CSUs and Cal Poly are supposed to be low-cost, even tuition-free,” Summers said. “It should be. And increasing tuition is almost like running the school as a business. Increasing profits and trying to minimize costs through tuition hikes, denying faculty basic demands that they’re having, as well as taking student assistants and student workers to court to block their unionizing efforts, it’s all just really corrupt, and we’re trying to change that.”

Everett Elias, a fourth-year history major with a minor in nonviolent studies and SIJ President, held the same stance on the matter and insisted the tuition increases weren’t just bad for students but for the community as well.

“Cal Poly Pomona loves to say that they’re a Hispanic serving community, that we’re about social mobility, right?” Elias said. “But at what point can they continue saying that if the people that they’re supposedly serving are priced out of this college?”

The Bronco Justice Coalition formed to serve as a progressive, campus-wide network to advocate for students and provide them with the support they need in situations like this. Elias explained how the raises in tuition brought the coalition together and how participation from students is the most important factor in their success.

The Bronco Justice Coalition advocates for student rights and aims to support them through their struggles. | SIJ, SQE and YDSA

“Our goal is to stop this thing from happening, because it is possible,” Elias said. “Democratic change stems from students; this is where it starts. As the student body, we have that responsibility, that right to demand change, demand better for our community.”

SQE intern and liberal studies major Jacqueline Barrett had similar things to say about student involvement, emphasizing its importance and the recent growth of the coalition.

“I feel like as a commuter school, lots of people aren’t super involved, and since we’ve been kind of coming to more things and posting more events, lots of people have been wanting to get involved,” Barrett said. “And we kind of want to create a space for people and kind of let people know what’s going on.”

Since its recent formation, the alliance has been active on campus regarding social justice issues. Student leaders were present during the California Faculty Association’s practice picket on campus Oct. 24. The coalition took to social media to express its support for faculty during their time of need and stated it doesn’t believe students should be punished for administrative mismanagement.

“It’s just really important to get involved as a student because lots of important movements have been led by students,” Barrett said. “And I think that’s how you learn how to get really involved and connected in your community, and I think it benefits yourself and the community you’re supporting.”

Interested students can sign the letter through the Bronco YDSA, CPP SQE and SIJ social media pages.

Feature Image Courtesy of SIJ, SQE and Bronco YDSA

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