CFA statewide and chapter leaders filed California Public Records Act requests last week at all 23 CSU campuses and at the Chancellor’s Office, seeking information on expenditures of COVID-19 Relief Funds.
The CSU system received $2.87 billion in Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF), also known as the COVID-19 relief emergency grants, with $1.6 billion provided to cover expenses related to the pandemic.
The additional $1.27 billion was designated as money that must be distributed directly to students.
Unfortunately, the required federal disclosure forms do not contain sufficient details for CFA to understand where those funds were allocated and spent.
Since faculty members began bargaining with CSU management, questions have arisen over how wisely the system has spent these relief funds. What is known currently is that millions of dollars were used to offset the loss of typical parking fees and residence fees, and to prop up food service operations.
The CSU system and all 23 campus administrations must provide adequate information about the use of those funds in order to enable the public to assess whether these dollars were spent in line with federal mandates and/or state str
ictures on spending.
CFA is currently at impasse with the CSU for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and one of the numerous issues at hand is faculty compensation. Management has stated it does not have money to raise salaries above two percent for a single year of a three-year contract for faculty, even as it recommended a 10 percent salary increase for campus presidents, and even as it sits on literally billions of state, federal, and reserve funds.
“We know that each campus received tens of millions of dollars in COVID-19 relief funding and, as a union, we’re trying to find out how those dollars were spent,” said Steven Filling, CFA Political Action and Legislative Committee Chair. “During contract negotiations, CSU management has claimed they don’t have money to pay for raises. Frankly, we know that’s nonsense as they certainly found money for 10 percent raises to campus presidents, already some of the wealthiest higher education administrators in the country.”
“A number of questions have arisen about campus expenditures. Our campus communities and the public deserve to see what the chancellor and his team are doing with the additional funds our universities received.”