A promise from the new chancellor as he takes over as leader of the largest public university system in the country: no tuition hikes and no systemwide employee furloughs in 2021-22.
Chancellor Joseph I. Castro announced during last week’s Board of Trustees meeting that students would not face an increase in tuition next school year and that the CSU would do “everything we can to avoid additional layoffs of permanent CSU staff or faculty.”
Castro’s announcement comes amid the juxtaposition of millions of Californians struggling to put food on their table, as the country sees stunning record revenues from massive stock market gains and income growth for the state’s wealthiest.
During public comment at the Board meeting, CFA leaders voiced concerns over a number of issues facing faculty, including concerns over plans to return to in-person classes and services for Fall 2021 without clear guidance on vaccine availability, prevention of virus spread, and outbreak protocols; demanding more leadership from Chancellor Castro on combatting anti-Black racism across the CSU system; and the need to extend COVID-19 leave for working parents and those caring for family infected with the disease;
“Because of the pandemic, my childcare became obsolete,” Michelle Soto-Peña, an assistant professor in the Department of Liberal Studies and Teacher Education at CSU Stanislaus, told trustees. “I was required to switch instructional modalities, and increase my work productivity to support my students through this tumultuous time.”
As CFA reported last week, the CSU currently “does not find a paid course reduction program to be operationally feasible” and refused to extend their COVID-19 Temporary Paid Administration Leave program (CPAL) through the Spring Term. This lack of care, concern, and humanity from the new administration and current make-up of the CSU’s Board of Trustees is alarming to many of you who have families or are looking out for your colleagues with kids at home.
The CSU must do right by our faculty. Our push for COVID-19 leave and relief continues.
CFA also thanked the Academic Senate of the California State University (ASCSU) for its continued support for Assembly Bill 1460 and its commitment for an Ethnic Studies graduation requirement at the CSU: ASCSU reaffirmed its opposition to the CSU’s Title V changes. They join at least 20 campus senates, the Council on Ethnic Studies, and CFA in opposing the CSU’s implementation proposal and the chancellor’s unwillingness to engage in appropriate governance conversations.
Due to their failure to show they have learned anything from the need to implement a true Ethnic Studies requirement, CFA called on trustees to take up anti-racism and bias training.
“(The Board of Trustees’) failure to support AB 1460, the Ethnic Studies requirement, and then to undermine it with an implementation plan involving a Title V change that is opposed by every faculty organization, including the Academic Senate and CFA, shows that you do not understand the need for structural, as opposed to simply interpersonal, change,” said Darel Tai Engen, CFA Associate Vice President, South, during the meeting’s public comments.
Also at the meeting, trustees unanimously voted to sponsor legislation to expand student mental health services. The proposal, as outlined in last week’s agenda, would establish the College Mental Health Services Program. The program would direct ongoing funding to CSU – along with California Community Colleges and the University of California – to expand student mental health services by redistributing Proposition 63 administrative funds each year.
CFA is pleased that Trustees are finally showing support for expanding much-needed mental health services after years of inaction and years of outsourcing the work to counties. Though, we should note, this is not a proposal CFA is sponsoring. Our member leaders hope the CSU will finally meet the International Accreditation of Counseling Services (IACS) standard of 1,000 to 1,500 students to one counselor, a standard CFA has advocated for years, including in our Anti-Racism and Social Justice Demands.