The CSSA Policy Agenda is set each year by the Board of Directors. The document outlines their policy priorities as the collective voice of CSU students. This year, the CSSA Board of Directors has affirmed the critical four areas that will inform our work of pursuing student-centered higher education policies and strategies.
The ultimate purpose of Strategic Plan 2018 is to pursue the mission of improving the lives of CSU students by advocating for student needs and engaging students in systemwide, state, and federal higher education policy making, while being guided by values that compel us to lead compassionately, responsibly, and transparently.
The CSSA Constitution contains the basic rules related to the organization’s structure. The CSSA Board of Directors has the authority to amend the constitution by a supermajority of the voting membership.
POLICIES & PROCEDURES
The policies and procedures of the organization are created, edited, and managed by the Internal Affairs committee and the Finance committee; and approved by the CSSA Board of Directors. Policies and procedures help guide the organization on specific processes.
Each year the CSSA Board of Directors approves a budget, recommended by the Finance committee and Vice President of Finance. The budget process expands over several months. The approved budget is implemented in the following fiscal year.
Document Archives provide organizational transparency in accordance with the organizations values and the Gloria Romero Open Meetings Act of 2000. The current year and archives for years past can be found by clicking the links below. For any questions regarding documents or archives please email [email protected].
2020 Policy Agenda
MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT WIAFE
The Cal State Student Association (CSSA) is a student-led advocacy organization that has been an unrelenting force in higher education advocacy and student representation in the CSU system, state and federal levels. Recognized by the California State Legislature and California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees as the official voice of CSU Students, we exist because of and represent the collective needs and interests of the over 480,000 students of the CSU. Consisting of student leaders from the 23 CSU Campuses, we lead change through our values of servant leadership, stewardship, and social justice and educational equity.
This year, the CSSA Board of Directors has affirmed the critical four areas that will inform our work of pursuing student-centered higher education policies and strategies. As precedented by student leaders of recent years, ensuring an affordable, sustainable, equitable and holistic educational experience that promotes student success and well-being continues to be a priority for our students. Acknowledging the need for students to be involved in this critical year of 2020 in a variety of areas that impact our future, we have set a new priority to foster inclusive civic engagement for CSU students to find agency in their campus, community and governmental affairs.
We have a mission to improve the lives of CSU students by engaging in advocacy for student needs and amplify the voices of students in higher-education policymaking and hope to share your partnership in this endeavor.
President, Cal State Student Association
Enable access to housing, food, and wellness resources that promote overall student health and safety.
CSU students face many challenges outside of their academic courses, including food and housing insecurity, a lack of access to mental health resources, and physical dangers within the surrounding areas. While the effects of these issues are widely felt, the burdens are inequitably carried by underrepresented minority (URM) students and those from low-income backgrounds. While 41.6% of CSU students across the system have reported being food insecure and 10.9% reported experiencing homelessness, students who identified as both first-generation and African-American experienced higher rates of these basic needs insecurities, with 65.9% of this population reporting food insecurity and 18% reporting homelessness.
According to the 2016 National College Health Assessment (NCHA) survey, students of color and students of non-binary gender within the CSU were most likely to report facing threats to their safety, health, and wellness. African-American students were twice as likely to face physical assault as other students, and non-binary and African-American students were most likely to report that discrimination had impeded their academic performance. Off campus, students also face inequitable challenges to their overall well-being. The NCHA survey found that Asian/Pacific-Islander, Hispanic/Latino, non-binary, and female students felt significantly less comfortable in the campus’ surrounding community than the rest of the student population.
In the NCHA survey, CSU students reported mental health issues such as hopelessness (50%), exhaustion (80%), depression (36%), and anxiety (57%), with non-binary students and students of color reporting at higher levels than average. Although only 14% of respondents indicated that they had utilized on-campus mental health resources in the past, the fact that 75% of all respondents indicated that they would consider seeking help from a mental health professional in the future demonstrates the desire and need for sufficient mental health services. Universities must be ready to meet this need with accessible services that reflect the diversity of the campus community.
In order to address inequities in academic success, wellness resources such as mental health counseling, food pantries, and emergency housing services must be expanded to meet the needs of these most vulnerable populations. A 2017 resolution from the CSU Board of Trustees urged increased support for undocumented students, including expanded mental health resources. And according to a 2018 report from the office of the California State Assembly Speaker Rendon, there is low awareness of helpful programs such as CalFresh, emergency housing, and food pantries on CSU campuses. Across all campuses, more than half of students reported being unaware of a food pantry on their campus and 71% were unaware of emergency services for students experiencing housing insecurity. Students in need of such resources often have lives that do not fit within regular business hours and may struggle to access resources at all due to non-academic responsibilities and conflicts such as off-campus work, family obligations, long commutes, lack of information and community knowledge of resource availability, and fear of the social stigma associated with these struggles.
Ensure that the CSU is accessible, affordable, and sustainable.
The California Master Plan for Higher Education of 1960 outlined the unique role of the CSU, which included providing access to the top 33% of high school graduates. Since 2000, the CSU system has grown undergraduate enrollment from approximately 292,000 to almost 430,000 to meet the increasing demands for a CSU education from high school graduates who meet eligibility requirements. Despite that dramatic growth, the CSU has not been able to keep pace with the growing demand as more high school graduates have become eligible for admission (41%) than the Master Plan allotted (33%). The limited capacity for the CSU to accommodate the additional students is demonstrated by the number of eligible California students who have been denied admission in recent years. The data also suggests that certain groups may be disproportionately affected, with the African-American student population declining from 6.1% (or 22,167 students) of the total undergraduate student body across the system in 2008 to only 4.1% (or 17,607) in 2017–this in spite of the percentage of African-American high school graduates eligible for CSU admissions increasing over the same period.
For the students who do gain access to the CSU, many of them encounter hurdles to affording the total costs that come with pursuing a college degree. Although the Master Plan also prioritized the affordability of public higher education in California, currently too many CSU graduates are leaving with significant student loan debt–the majority of whom are from annual family incomes of less than $27,000 and are not paying tuition. Those students on average are still leaving with nearly the same amount of debt as students whose tuition is not covered, showing that the affordability challenges facing low-income students are not adequately being met. Rising non-tuition costs have proven to be detrimental for college affordability, shown by the 44% increase in California’s median rent since 2006 compared to the 8% increase in Cal Grant B, which is intended to help low-income students cover non-tuition costs like food, transportation, books, and housing.
The success of CSU students is tied to the sustainability of the CSU system–both financially and environmentally. State funding and the state budget process itself have created a number of challenges for the CSU system that ultimately impact the success of CSU students. It certainly is a major concern that as both enrollment at the CSU has increased and the cost to educate CSU students has increased, the state’s share of covering that total cost has decreased–forcing students to cover the difference by way of tuition increases. It is just as problematic that the unpredictability of the state budget requires the CSU system and its students to expend resources every year trying to convince the state that the CSU is a unique and valuable resource to our state and the nation. Not only does a lack of state investment directly impact students, but it also creates challenges to the system improving campus facilities and positioning the CSU to be as environmentally sustainable as possible.
It’s important that policies and procedures continue to address the needs of California students desirous of accessing an affordable and sustainable CSU education, not only to provide individual opportunities for personal growth and social mobility, but to also meet California’s need for college-educated residents in the not-so-distant future.
Ensure the academic success and holistic educational experience of all CSU students.
All CSU students deserve equal access to a university experience that holistically prepares them for success in their academic pursuits and in the workforce. This preparation should certainly support students to a timely graduation based on their academic aspirations, but must also be reflective of the rich cultures represented in the CSU student body and supportive of their intellectual, emotional, and social development. The Academic Senate of the CSU (ASCSU) captured this balance in their 2018 white paper, which emphasized the variety of institutional factors that contribute to student success, including the faculty-student relationship, engagement in educationally purposeful activities in and out of the classroom, and other extracurricular support services like counseling and psychological services.
To be sure, students should not face barriers to graduation and one-size-fits-all standards are not the best way to determine their success. Although graduation rates are only one of many measures of success, they are informative and offer insight into ways in which campuses and the system at-large may be producing inequitable outcomes for students. For example, graduation rates are increasing for most student populations, but the gap between lower graduation rates for underrepresented minority (URM) students (as well as Pell grant recipients) and the higher rates for their peers has persisted since the implementation of the Graduation Initiative 2025. When looking deeper into the data, there is evidence to suggest that certain campuses, colleges within those campuses, and degree programs within those colleges are contributing disproportionately to the inequities in graduation rates.
The equity gaps related to degree completion do not imply that academic programs are exclusively responsible for ensuring the success of students. Truly, the entire campus contributes to student success, which is why it is just as important that the out-of-classroom experience–which include student leadership opportunities, academic advising, career preparation, and so much more–create an inclusive and safe learning environment, especially for the most vulnerable student populations. Furthermore, as with any major policy changes, such as those the Graduation Initiative 2025 may initiate, it is critical to pay close attention to potential unintended consequences that veer from the true goal of the policy change–which should be to ensure opportunity gaps are closed for underserved and underrepresented students so that all CSU students can achieve to their full potential.
Foster inclusive civic engagement for CSU students to find agency in their campus, community and governmental affairs.
Civic engagement has always been a priority for CSU students. For 2020, CSSA has identified two unique opportunities for CSU students to engage in their campus, community and governmental affairs.
We recognize the need for more students to be engaged in the civic process and we’ve set forth mutual commitments alongside the CSU Office of the Chancellor, and the California Secretary of State to increase voter engagement through our Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2016. Nationally, college voter turnout and registration has increased across all segments of higher education, but the turnout rate was still only 48.3% (49.5% for public four year institutions). While there have been recent significant advances through legislation, student-led voter engagement is critical and a determining factor of success in increasing participation. In order to ensure engagement, students need to stay vigilant on changing policies to involvement and advocate for increased accessibility to promote optimal engagement.
Additionally, it is fundamental to acknowledge that not all of our students will be able to vote. It will be important that students who are working to register others to vote understand the concerns and vulnerabilities of those who are ineligible. CSSA seeks to pursue civic engagement strategies inclusive for all CSU students.
Lastly, 2020 is the year of the decennial United States census. It is critical that CSU students anticipate partnering with the California State University, government officials, and external stakeholders to gather census data in the most transparent and sensitive way. When specific populations such as students are not counted, the census underestimates the amount of funding needed to support that population in the coming decade. An accurate and inclusive account of CSU students will be crucial in informing decisions to address the issues of California and its students for the next decade. Although In the case of Department of Commerce v New York, the United States Supreme Court determined that the inquiry of citizenship violates federal law, that skepticism and fear still exists in our campus and local communities. Statistically it’s the students and families who would benefit the most from Census funding that are undercounted. Information from the census informs decision making for the amount of funding needed for federal student loans, federal research grants, campus funding, campus infrastructure improvements, health and social services, federal legislation as well as federally funded programs to support basic needs.
College Ready, Hungry, and Homeless: An Overview of Basic Needs Insecurity in California’s Public Higher Education System. (2018). A report prepared by the California State Assembly Speaker’s Office of Research and Floor Analysis.
Crutchfield, R. & Maguire, J. (2018). Study of Student Basic Needs. A report of The California State University Basic Needs Initiative. Retrieved from https://www2.calstate.edu/impact-of-the-csu/student-success/basic-needs-initiative/Documents/BasicNeedsStudy_phaseII_withAccessibilityComments.pdf
Nazmi, A. (2016). The California State University Student Health, Wellness, and Safety Report: Results from the 2016 Systemwide National College Health Assessment. A report prepared for the CSU Chancellor’s Office.
California Budget & Policy Center. (2018). Data Hit: Even as CSU Enrollment has Increased, State General Support Funding has Declined. Retrieved from https://calbudgetcenter.org/resources/even-as-csu-enrollment-has-increased-state-general-fund-support-has-declined/
Silver, D., Hensley, E., Hong, Y., Siegel, P., & Bradby, D. (2017). University Eligibility Study for the Public High School Class of 2015. Retrieved from http://www.opr.ca.gov/docs/RTI_Eligibility_Report_071417_FINALtoOPR.pdf
California State University Institutional Research and Analyses. CSU Systemwide Enrollment by Ethnic Group, Number
and Percent of Total, from Fall 2008. Retrieved from https://www.calstate.edu/as/stat_reports/2017-2018/feth01.htm
Where Debt Comes Due at CSU: Unequal Debt Burdens Among California State University Graduates. (2017). A report by the Cal State Student Association & The Institute for College Access & Success. Retrieved from https://www.calstatestudents.org/where-debt-comes-due-at-csu-unequal-debt-burdens-among-california-state-university-graduates/
Johnson, H., Meija, M., & Bohn, S. (2015). Will California Run Out of College Graduates? A report from the Public Policy Institute of California. Retrieved from http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/report/R_1015HJR.pdf
Rose, A. (2018). Barriers to Higher Education Attainment: Students’ Unmet Basic Needs. A report produced by the California Budget & Policy Center. Retrieved from https://calbudgetcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/Issue-Brief_Barriers-to-Higher-Education-Students-Unmet-Basic-Needs_05.2018.pdf
White Paper on Student Success. (2018). A resolution of the Academic Senate of the California State University. Retrieved from http://www.calstate.edu/acadsen/records/resolutions/2017-2018/documents/3322.shtml
California State University Office of the Chancellor Data. (2018).
Publication Title: United States Code, 2006 Edition, Supplement 5, Title 18 – CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
Thomas, N., Bergom, I., Casellas Connors, I., Gautam, P., Gismondi, A., & Roshko, A. (2017). Democracy counts: A report on U.S. college and university student voting. Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life
Inger Bergom, Senior Researcher, Institute for Democracy and Higher Education (IDHE), Tisch College of Civic Life; Manuela Jäggi, Graduate Student, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy; and Prabhat Gautam, Data Analyst, IDHE; all with Tufts University.
Secretary of State Alex Padilla : Memorandum of Understanding Voter Registration & Engagement
MISSION & VALUES
As the officially recognized voice of the over 480,000 California State University (CSU) students at the 23 CSU campuses across the state, the mission of the Cal State Student Association (CSSA) is to improve the lives of CSU students by advocating for student needs and engaging students in systemwide, state, and federal higher education policymaking.
In order to achieve its mission, CSSA believes that the following values must serve as the foundation for all decision-making and strategic activities:
Educational Equity. CSSA will pursue its mission guided by the belief that the CSU and systems that influence outcomes for CSU students must be justly organized to remove barriers to success for underserved and marginalized communities.
Servant Leadership. CSSA will pursue its mission guided by the belief that our purpose in our leadership roles is to serve the communities to which we belong with empathy and care.
Stewardship. CSSA will pursue its mission through the responsible, transparent, and prudent management of human and financial resources entrusted to us by CSU students through the Student Involvement & Representation Fee (SIRF).
The Cal State Student Association will serve as the leading resource on issues affecting California State University students.
The Cal State Student Association will pursue its mission and achieve its aspiration to EDUCATE by pursuing the following strategic goals:
- Equip system, state, and national stakeholders with information to make sound, student-centered policy decisions.
- Equip students with the tools to advocate for themselves using evidence-driven approaches.
- Promote opportunities for CSSA student leaders and professional staff to serve as experts on CSU student issues.
The Cal State Student Association will elevate and strengthen the student voice in higher education policy discussions, and provide opportunities for students to take an active role in higher education.
The Cal State Student Association will pursue its mission and achieve its aspiration to EMPOWER by pursuing the following strategic goals:
- Identify and secure opportunities for students to contribute to influential higher education policy bodies.
- Strategically partner with stakeholders in order to broaden the organization’s reach and amplify the student voice.
- Promote inclusion by highlighting the important role of diversity and the unique experiences of students from different backgrounds.
- Ensure that CSSA student leaders possess the support, knowledge, skills, and confidence to effectively execute the business of the board, and are equipped with the tools to engage students on their local campuses in CSSA’s efforts.
The Cal State Student Association will proactively lead change in higher education policy to ensure that systems that influence outcomes for CSU students are supporting the holistic needs of students.
The Cal State Student Association will pursue its mission and achieve its aspiration to INFLUENCE by pursuing the following strategic goals:
- Leverage student perspectives to bring critical issues facing students to the forefront of policymaking.
- Innovate student-centered solutions to systemic issues and strategize the best approach to integrate those solutions into policy change.
- Amplify the voices of other advocates and build coalitions across stakeholder groups to advance CSSA policy priorities.