Faculty explain why they are taking a stand against tuition hikes in our public university

Last week at the Trustees meeting, in public hearings at the State Capitol, and during rallies on campuses all over the state, faculty members have been explaining why they oppose tuition increases.

Vivian Price, a professor at CSU Dominguez Hills who is a new Fullbright scholar as well as president of the CSUDH CFA Chapter, shared with the Trustees last week stories given her by her students. They described debt, excessive work hours that interfere with their studies, and a persistent struggle to support their families.

“Instead of a fee increase we need to give them more encouragement and support,” Price said.

But, CSU management claims a disconnect, saying the tuition hikes are needed to hire more faculty members and to keep faculty salaries in sync with the cost of living.

Wrong, says Susan Meisenhelder, an emeritus faculty member and past CFA President, who led the research for “Race to the Bottom,” a CFA study of CSU funding and spending.

“When we looked at increases in student tuition and expenditures on faculty salaries over the last decade,” Meisenhelder said, “we found no correlation. Student tuition and fees rose dramatically during that period but expenditures on faculty salaries remained essentially flat. The number of permanent faculty actually dropped even while fees were skyrocketing.”

She added, “We concluded there are other causes for tuition increases. Our data points to years of deep cuts to state funding and to a pattern of increased hiring in non-teaching executive and administrative personnel.”

Nick Baham, professor of Ethnic Studies and president of the CSU East Bay CFA Chapter, lent a personal note on student tuition increases at a state hearing at the State Capitol, saying:

“Speaking as a concerned parent, I have a young man who is entering high school and very much wants to study engineering at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I’m in a fairly common situation as a professor, where although I work in the system, I’m struggling to put aside money for my child to be able to go to college in the system.

“I should add that part of the reason why I’m here and have dedicated my life to this CSU is both of my parents have degrees from San Francisco State University. But obviously that was at a time when it was much more affordable to attend San Francisco State University.”