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CFA addresses Trustees on use of funds and student mental health and safety

At their meeting this week, CFA challenged CSU Trustees to more critically scrutinize mental health care on the campuses, spoke out for stronger measures on student safety, and called for better use of state funds.

On State Funding for the CSU: CFA President Jennifer Eagan reminded Trustees and the Chancellor that the extra state funding CFA worked hard to win in this year’s CSU budget was meant to admit more students and hire more tenure-line faculty.

While praising the Chancellor and Trustees for working with CFA to get that money, she said, “it is dispiriting” to realize the money is not being used to have “more actual students and faculty on the tenure line.” See video of Committee on Finance at time 14:30.

On Student Safety: Cecil Canton, CFA Associate Vice President for Affirmative Action North, helped Trustees and CSU executives comprehend the experiences of students of color—as well as faculty and staff—on and around CSU campuses.

“I realize it’s hard for people who have never experienced being black or brown, or a young person of color, to appreciate the fear and the animosity we experience at times and in places where we are a small number of the population,” he said.

He urged the “people in this room” to “take this issue seriously and listen to us about what makes us feel safe … For you this is a policy discussion, but for us, it’s a life and death issue.” See video of Plenary Session at time 10:24.

To remind the Trustees that it is 19 months since African-American Humboldt State student David Josiah Lawson was murdered, his mother and brother spoke about the persistent fears of Black students, and played a recording of the slain student’s aspirational speech just before leaving home for HSU. Charmaine Lawson praised Chancellor Timothy White for intervening personally to press for further investigation. See video of Plenary Session at time 20:30.

On Student Mental Health Care: Mimi Bommersbach, chair of the CFA Counselor Faculty Committee, advised the Trustees that a report by Chancellor’s Office staff paints an unrealistically rosy picture of the status of student mental health services on the 23 CSU campuses.

“All counselors at the CSU are absolutely slammed with cases,” she said, adding that burn out and turnover of CSU counselors is high due to understaffing and increased hiring on temporary contracts. The result is too few counselors to provide ongoing, informed care for growing numbers of students suffering anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. See video of Educational Policy Committee at time 41:05.

She was supported by CFA Secretary Kevin Wehr who described a student at his campus who sought care: “Two weeks ago, her sister attempted suicide. …She was told counseling might be available to her in December.” Ill-advised long wait times for appointments have become commonplace on CSU campuses, according to counselors. See video of Educational Policy Committee at time 44:55.

In other developments at the Trustees meeting:

  • Students for Quality Education from the East Bay, Fullerton and SLO campuses called for more student mental health services, and a rollback in tuition. They called on CSU East Bay, which serves alarge African-American student population, to proceed with creating already-approved African-American and Dreamer Resource Centers.
     
  • Faculty Trustee Romey Sibelius chided a report on student tuition that suggested the CSU’s low tuition compared to other states leaves room for hikes. Sibelius said this “should be a pointof pride” that it is low. A new study finds at most state university systems tuition is getting out of reach of low-income students.
     
  • Trustees decided to sell the chancellor’s house in Long Beach, and to invest the money in hopes it will cover a housing allowance for the Chancellor of $7917 a month ($95,000 a year).
     
  • Students and faculty from CSU Northridge protested new general education and remediation policies now being implemented in accord with two CSU Chancellor Executive Orders. See video of Educational Policy Committee.
 
PHOTO: Former Humboldt State student Naomi Waters, who was president of the HSU Black Student Union during her time there, told Trustees in a moving presentation about the open hostility and subtle racism she encountered on and around campus that ultimately drove her to seek an education elsewhere.  See video of Plenary Session at 18:08.

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