Governor commits funds to study CSU Stockton campus

Gabriella Backus, Editor-In-Chief

New governor Gavin Newsom establishes a committee to study bringing CSU campus to Stockton; cost? Necessary?
Although Stockton’s population exceeds 300,000, it remains the only city of its size in California without a major public university. Thanks to California Governor Gavin Newsom’s establishment of a committee to research the possibility of a California State University (CSU) in Stockton, students may one day be able to attend an inexpensive four-year college in their hometown.
Of California’s $144 billion general fund budget, Newsom’s proposed budget plan for 2019-2020 allocates $2 million to researching the potential development of a CSU campus in San Joaquin County, most likely in Stockton.
Stockton currently does not have any CSU or University of California (UC) campuses. The closest CSUs to Stockton are CSU Sacramento, roughly 45 miles away, and CSU Stanislaus in Turlock, about 55 miles away. According to “The Record,” about 800 students attend the CSU-Stanislaus’ Stockton campus. Stockton is also home to the University of the Pacific, a private school with a $48,173 projected yearly tuition as of the 2018-2019 school year; meanwhile, the CSU Stanislaus tuition is $5,742 annually.
Newsom’s proposal cites the growing population of high school graduates in San Joaquin County and the desire to increase the county’s college attendance for graduates as reasons for a CSU. Because San Joaquin is a notoriously low-income area riddled with high unemployment rates, Newsom seeks to increase graduation rates in hopes that young college graduates will stay in Stockton, thereby increasing its educated workforce and bringing more higher paying jobs to Stockton.
According to the Open Data Network website, the high school graduation rate in San Joaquin County has been steadily rising, from to 76.7 percent in 2010 to 78.4 percent in 2017. Although the increase seems small, it calculates to an increase of 15,000 graduates annually.
During his campaign for governor, Newsom said there was “nothing more significant than getting a CSU in Stockton.”
Principal Hillary Harrell says she is chiefly concerned about the consequences of Stockton’s economic recession.
“We were one of the top 10 US cities negatively affected by the double dip recession, and I really see the effects of that,” Harrell said. “I see that Stockton is not recovering the way many cities in California have.”
Some students may be motivated to stay close to parents who require their assistance at home due to financial issues or who need help with relatives; others choose to stay close to home due to high transportation costs. Considering nearly two thirds of Bear Creek’s population qualifies for free or reduced lunch, a subsidy provided to low-income families, economic factors are probably the driving factor in college choice.
“I plan to stay somewhat close to Stockton,” junior Julia Dundas said of her college choices. “I don’t want to be really far from family… I want to be able to come home easily if I need to.”
Newsom’s proposal has been met with enthusiasm by officials. Stockton Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, who has supported multiple previous attempts to bring a CSU to Stockton, voiced her support at a meeting on January 10, at which Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs announced Newsom’s plan.
“In the City of Stockton, the state has given us four prisons,” Eggman said. “That’s what we want to change. Close a prison, open a university.”
“A CSU would be strong here,” Harrell said. “What I’ve found is that Stockton kids want to stay in Stockton, and if they leave they want to come back.”
Some have criticized Newsom’s plan for not choosing another area to place the CSU — such as Escalon, which is one of the most impoverished areas in San Joaquin county according to — and for ignoring the availability of nearly CSUs, but most remain optimistic for the long-awaited CSU Stockton.
“CSU Stanislaus isn’t very far, so I’m not sure if it’s much of a necessity,” Dundas said. “A CSU in Stockton would be helpful for those who want it [and] good for local students applying who want to stay in the area but get a full college experience.”