"Don't forget about us," said the 22-year-old student at Biola University, "because we won't forget about you."
Student anger has simmered as lawmakers have repeatedly cut funding for higher education in their struggle to balance the state's books, and as the universities have responded by raising tuition and fees. The Cal Grants program, which awards state funds to qualifying students at public and private universities, has also been targeted. Thousands marched on the Capitol last week in one of the largest student demonstrations there in recent years, and dozens were later arrested for trespassing.
Since the 2002-03 academic year, state spending on the University of California and the California State University systems has fallen 42% when adjusted for inflation, according to statistics from Gov. Jerry Brown's administration. Undergraduate tuition and fees have nearly tripled in roughly the same period.
In fact, in the current academic year California's public colleges and universities began relying more on student dollars than on the state budget for the first time. With more tuition and fee increases due to kick in this fall, lawmakers are under pressure to provide relief by restoring some money for higher education.