CSU management is claiming the need to cut course sections and faculty work due to budget shortfalls.

We’ve seen this before and we won’t fall for the administration’s phony austerity nonsense.  Funding from the state legislature has not been cut, trustees approved a student-tuition increase of 34 percent over the next five years, and CSU reserves are some of the healthiest the university has experienced.

a crowd of people outside with signs saying No Course Cuts!
Students, faculty and staff protests budget cuts at the CSU Trustee meeting.

Faculty, students and staff are joining forces to fight back. Cutting courses and programs is a direct attack on student success by increasing class sizes, expanding faculty workload, and reducing support programs that help student achieve, particularly first-generation and immigrant students, and those from marginalized communities. Students are paying more and getting less.

CFA members at many campuses are seeing cutbacks for Fall 2024 term, including CSU Monterey Bay.

“Many of our CSU campuses are being hit hard right now by an austerity crisis that is largely being manufactured by the Chancellor’s Office,” said Meghan O’Donnell, Associate Vice President of Lecturers, North, and CSU Monterey Bay Lecturer. “It’s always a race to the bottom with our chancellor. Her actions create or compound deficits, provide for fewer resources for students, cause widespread job loss for lecturer faculty, and increases workloads for those who remain. It’s self-defeating austerity and it’s a prime example of the ongoing failure in leadership in the CSU. No vision, no values, and no respect for the people who make the CSU possible.”

What can faculty, students, and staff do? Use this toolkit to pushback against these manufactured austerity measures. CFA members are also collecting information from department chairs across the 23 CSU campuses about program cuts; if you are a department chair who didn’t received the emailed survey, reach out to your campus representative.

The CSU has the money to avoid any cuts to direct student services.

A report by accountant Howard Bunsis details financial trends at the CSU and shows emphatically that there is more than enough money to fund education. The CSU has stockpiled an $8 billion reserve fund, growing from $2.68 billion in 2006. The CSU also has surplus money at the end of each fiscal year.

“The reserve fund keeps growing. (CSU management takes) in more than they spend. They don’t even have to touch reserves to afford your proposals,” said Bunsis, an accounting professor at Eastern Michigan University and financial analyst. “These reserves have been built on your backs. These reserves have been built because they are not paying you what they should be. I’d ask them, to what end are you building this?  Why are you creating this big savings account that you say you can never use. For what purpose?”

Bunsis highlighted that management hoards state and tuition dollars because credit rating agencies like Moody’s reward greater accumulation of cash and investments with higher credit scores, which in turn enable universities to borrow more money. Administrators themselves value high credit ratings as evidence of their fiscal prowess.

The financial report also showed the largest growth in personnel spending is on administration – in both dollars and people hired – while spending on instructional support has shrunk. As many campuses circulate austerity messaging and begin plans to lay off faculty, Bunsis suggested the fiscally prudent move is to reduce administrative bloat before cutting instruction and programs that support students.

View Bunsis’ presentation here, and the slides here.

Even if your campus won’t be trimming for Fall 2024, this is not a one-time plan: this is a multi-year scheme by CSU administrators to cut as much as possible.

Let’s use our people power to pushback on cuts to student instruction and support services! We need to continue investing in higher education – when CSU students from all backgrounds succeed, we all thrive!

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