CSU Board of Trustees Meeting Day 2 Includes Student Protest Over New Quantitative Reasoning Requirement, Powerful Land Acknowledgement Action

November’s CSU Board of Trustees meeting sent us into the Thanksgiving break with a bang.

CFA Headlines covered highlights from Day 1 on November 19, but Day 2 was just as eventful.

Students for Quality Education, CSU alumni, and supporters held a rally outside the Chancellor’s Office to oppose adding a new CSU admissions requirement – a fourth year of Quantitative Reasoning.

Students from CSU campuses across the state protested the proposed changes, which would drastically reduce eligibility rates for students of color, socio-economically disadvantaged students, first-generation students, and those growing up in rural communities with less access to these courses. Many cited a recent analysis that showed only 1 in 4 Los Angeles Unified School District seniors in 2018-19 took the fourth year of Quantitative Reasoning.

The students took to direct action to make their case to Trustees by interrupting the meeting to communicate their concerns.  Instead of listening to the students, Board Chair Adam Day adjourned the meeting, and led most Trustees and staff from the room.  Trustee Lateefah Simon, however, addressed the students who continued their rally outside, thanking them for their action.

“You need to start investing in our youth, in our communities, in foster care.  That’s what you all should be focusing on,” one student said.

Once the meeting began again, students and educators urged Trustees during public comment not to pass the policy.  Board Ex-Officio Members Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond also registered their opposition to the CSU policy.

During public comment, CFA Associate Vice President for Racial and Social Justice Sharon Elise wondered why Trustees appeared ready to approve a policy change with no proven benefit to student success (Quantitative Reasoning), but are against one that would benefit students (an Ethnic Studies course requirement). 

“Policy changes that will make it harder for students to access The People’s University seem to form a punishment regime that would fall most heavily on the most vulnerable:  first generation, second language learners, foster youth, and students of color,” Elise told the Board.  “Let’s talk about the irony that the same voices calling for an added Quantitative Reasoning requirement are opposed or silent when it comes to support for Ethnic Studies despite the wealth of evidence that these courses improve student performance and graduation rates. “

Trustees are set to make a final decision on Quantitative Reasoning at their January 28-29 meeting.

Members of CFA’s Indigenous Peoples Caucus also led a powerful land acknowledgement ceremony during public comment, in which people rose to recognize the Native American land they were standing on.

In May, CFA presented a resolution that urges Trustees and the CSU to acknowledge tribal land that the Chancellor’s Office and the 23 CSU campuses and their satellite campuses sit on. 

At the end of the day, Faculty Trustee Romey Sabalius picked up his recommendation from the prior day to hike the CSU’s budget request. In an effort to increase staff and faculty recruitment, retention and morale, Sabalius proposed hiking the request for the compensation pool by 50%. The boost represents less than a 1% increase to the overall $7.2 billion CSU operational budget request.  After he received what appears to be pressure from other trustees over the two days, Sabalius withdrew his proposal.

“I am disappointed that the number we are requesting is lower than it was last year, which was fully funded,” Sabalius said.  “I’m very disappointed that 3% of a salary increase or possibly less is considered adequate in a booming economy.  I do not understand the ‘fear’ of the legislators and how they would react (if the CSU requests ‘too much’ money).”

This came a day after Trustees approved policy on compensation for the highest paid campus executives.

To read media coverage from Day 2’s happenings, click here, here and here.