CFA demands CSU Trustees focus state funding on core teaching mission, vastly increase number of mental health counselors

CFA leaders called on CSU administrators to keep a clear focus on the CSU’s core teaching mission as it decides how to spend state dollars, which are slated to increase sharply in the coming year if Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2019-20 budget plan is adopted.

CFA, Trustees, and Chancellor Timothy White all praised Newsom’s plan to step up state funding by $562 million, $300 million in on-going dollars and the rest in one-time money for long-standing needs.

The funding increase is a big step towards correcting years of chronic underfunding that became a demoralizing way of life in the CSU, CFA Associate Vice President of Lecturers Jonathan Karpf told Trustees during the meeting Tuesday.

“CSU faculty and students have worked long and hard, talking with the constantly changing roster of legislators and a long succession of governors about the need to fully invest in the CSU,” he said. 

Karpf commended Trustees for requesting additional funding for the CSU this fiscal year, and urged them to continue to “ask for what the CSU system really needs.”

“We have consistently been there, arguing that it’s madness to starve the engine that drives the California economy,” Karpf explained. “Our CFA members will be watching closely that (CSU Trustees) use this money wisely.”

Karpf also noted the need to enroll more eligible students, offer more class sections, hire faculty on the tenure-line rather than into temporary appointments, and help students with basic living needs like housing and food.

MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING: CFA Associate VP Sharon Elise followed up specifically on the urgent need for more mental health counselors on the campuses during Tuesday’s Board of Trustees meeting.

“Quality, and timely, mental health care can make the difference between our students graduating and not graduating,” she said. “CSU students are under tremendous personal and financial pressure.”

Students of color face unique challenges to their mental well-being—challenges that are heightened by the racial climate, Elise explained. Despite this, research shows that students of color avoid seeking help when there is a lack of diversity among the available counselors.

“It is wrong to make students wait weeks, even months to see a counselor,” she said.

Currently, only five campuses meet the recommended maximum ratio of one counselor per 1,500 students. That number of campuses failing that standard is shameful, Elise said.

“You earn a failing grade on the ratio of student-to-mental health counselors… and earn a failing grade on sensitivity of what is needed so students of color can thrive,” she said. “You should be ashamed of that. We are.”