Faculty, students call on Trustees to ‘Get on the Bus’

Faculty and students pushed back against CSU Trustees’ lack of commitment to the fight for additional state funding for the CSU and encouraged them to come to the Capitol on April 4.

CFA President Jennifer Eagan extended an invitation to Chancellor Tim White and Trustees, saying ‘Now is the time to join forces in a powerful way to protect what we all love, and that is the university and the students.”

Students for Quality Education (SQE) built an artistic rendition of a bus, featuring Trustees as riders, to drive home the point that the CSU’s decision makers should attend the April 4 event in Sacramento. As San Diego State student Marissa Mendoza pointed out, the financial burden of ever-increasing tuition is unsustainable for students and their families. Especially those who are low-income, as are more than 54% of students in the CSU.

“The CSU continues to fail future generations of students with every tuition hike and every fee increase this board proposes, even your ‘modest and predictable’ ones,” said Mendoza, a member of SQE.

“As you all grow increasingly more reliant on the wages of my 45-hour work week paychecks, and those of hundreds of thousands of other students alike, the CSU grows increasingly inaccessible.”

Over the years, times have changed, yet not for the better, pointed out CSU Fullerton Professor Gregory Christopher Brown, who serves as Chapter President of the CFA Fullerton chapter.

In the past, the student body was more than 70 percent white, but funding for the CSU was available in good times and bad. Now, more than 70 percent of CSU students are students of color, yet the money is not there.

“If we do not get better funding for (the CSU) now, when the state has a $7 billion surplus, then when will the CSU get better funding? If California does not invest in our students now, when will that happen?” Brown asked.

“During the economic downturn, we heard ‘too bad, no money…’ We can reasonably expect now to have money restored and stepped up. We have downturns, we will have down turns again,” Brown said. “Right now, the excuses are so weak that they are not acceptable. This is not acceptable at all.”

Trustees also received an update on the ‘Graduation Initiative’ and discussed revenue options for the 2018-19 year, which includes a tuition increase, multi-year budget plan, expansion of public-private partnerships, and increasing philanthropic donations.

Trustees are expected to consider a proposal to increase tuition by $228 per student at the Board of Trustees meeting in May. The increases, if approved, would go into effect in the 2018-19 academic year.

“Chancellor White, do what’s right!” students chanted as White discussed funding options.

“Hey that’s what I’m trying to do. That’s what I’m working on,” White said.

CFA activists also voiced concerned over Executive Orders that have ignited a firestorm of criticism from faculty and students. Executive Order 1100 would cap General Education credits available for students at 48 units maximum, and would mandate that certain GE areas be no more than three units. Executive Order 1110 would eliminate placement tests and remedial English and Math courses.

“The orders are ill-conceived, quick-fix attempts to save money by reducing time to degree without consideration for the educational mission of the CSU and without consultation with the people who know public higher education the best: the faculty who provide it,” said Darel Engen, a Cal State San Marcos History Professor and CFA San Marcos Chapter President.

CFA demanded that CSU management “meet and confer” over the two Executive Orders.

Kevin Wehr, CFA’s Bargaining Team Chair, told Trustees today that the orders are contentious and divisive, and encouraged them to support the approach of Assemblymember Shirley Weber’s AB 2408, “which would correct the racist effect of removing Ethnic Studies components from the curriculum.”

“Dr. Weber’s bill can be fulfilled by a wide array of existing courses on all the campuses,” Wehr said. “The point is that they do exist, they should exist, and they must continue to exist.”