CSU sustainability plan would harm, not help

A “sustainability” plan focused on increasing reliance on private funding and tuition hikes drew fire from faculty and students when it was presented to the CSU Trustees’ during Tuesday’s meeting in Long Beach.

The report, presented to the Trustees’ Finance Committee, is the result of a task force’s yearlong effort to consider how to manage the CSU’s costs, revenue, resource allocations and administrative effectiveness.

Missing from the report, however, was any consideration of increasing enrollments and prioritization of academic mission, said CFA President Jen Eagan.

“What might real sustainability of the CSU and its core mission look like? I would suggest that a real sustainability report would prioritize the academic mission, figure out how to support people who are actually working with students by bargaining first before going to the legislature for funds, and would define real student success as the result investing in the human capital of your employees,” Eagan said.

Although student tuition is unlikely to increase this year or next, the plan recommends regular annual fee increases linked to inflation in in future years.

However, student fee increases imposed over the past 15 years have already far outstripped inflation, said Lillian Taiz, immediate past president of CFA and a Professor at Cal State LA.

“By putting student tuition/fee increases on ‘auto-pilot’ you abdicate your responsibility as Trustees,” she said. “It’s simply unacceptable to create a policy that insulates you from evaluating fully any proposal that may affect the ability of California’s students to attend the CSU.”

Kevin Wehr, CFA Bargaining Team Chair and a Sociology Professor at Sacramento State, urged Trustees to be cautious in considering public-private partnerships and that increased privatization could “make the CSU system an empty vessel for private interests.”

“The faculty, staff, and students are here to defend public higher education, not a curriculum that has been compromised by private interests and warped by people who are not scholars in the field,” he said.

The report also garnered criticism from the Students for Quality Education, who say cutbacks to their education and increases in tuition and fees do not promote student success, but hinder it instead.

“Any cutbacks and proposed tuition/fee increases should be viewed as an assault and affront to our livelihood, our dignity, and our right to determine our future,” said Christian Torres, a student at Cal State LA. “We call upon our cohorts, our comrades, our classmates, to begin mass mobilizations for a student strike to demonstrate not only to the BOT but the rest of the nation, that we students have the potential to build true political power.”

According to the report, the Chancellor will convene experts to address board recommendations following Tuesday’s presentation. The goal is to initiate changes in June 2016, the report states.