CFA kicks off academic year with focus on Anti-Racism & Social Justice work for unity & power

A gathering of CFA activists and leaders hummed with energy Aug. 10-11 as CFA kicked off the 2018/19 academic year with workshops and talks to develop our plans for—and our understanding of—the large challenges facing the CSU and public higher education.

In this moment of rising racial division in our country, participants examined how an awareness of racism in our institutions and our own interactions, and how we talk about it, helps us to improve the CSU as well as CFA, and to achieve greater social justice for our students, ourselves, and our larger society.

CFA President Jennifer Eagan welcomed faculty to the two-day Kickoff, where member leaders gathered to learn the latest union news and worked together to set goals to strengthen CFA, achieve greater faculty unity through membership, and build political power.

“We are truly a member lead organization that does an amazing amount of work and advances not only our own union, but the entire university system,” Eagan said. “We had a tremendous budget win last year thanks to having joined forces with Students for Quality Education. We lived our values of protecting quality, public higher education for all and fighting for racial justice. Once again, when we fight, we win. That is only going to continue into this next academic year.”

Representatives from the SEIU Racial Justice Center and Demos also were on hand to lead a discussion titled “A Race-Class Narrative to Unite Working People.” Connie Razza, co-director of Policy and Research at Demos, and Tinselyn Simms, communications coordinator for the SEIU Racial Justice Center led members through data outlining how to articulate a persuasive narrative that embraces our values of racial and social justice. The discussion was followed by a workshop where activists were able to apply what they learned on top of CFA’s own Anti-Racism and Social Justice focus, so that the union’s work will help improve the CSU for all faculty and students.

Students for Quality Education interns Mariposa Sanchez and Cecilia Ruesta led a workshop titled “Trans 101,” where faculty learned about trans/gender nonconforming identities, issues, and how they can advocate on behalf of students or others who may identify as trans/gnc.

CFA Political Action & Legislative Committee Chair Lillian Taiz led a workshop titled “Building Power Through Politics” where CFA activists were briefed on the very important upcoming November 2018 General Election. The briefing was followed by participants  brainstorming the best ways to involve faculty in political action and help CFA’s priority endorsed candidates win this November.

With California under constant attack by the Trump administration, it is critical that CFA activists stand together to make sure we elect strong leaders who are willing to fight back against efforts to undermine our state’s decisions. At the same time, we must elect strong supporters of public higher education, including CFA’s endorsed candidate for Governor Gavin Newsom and Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate Tony Thurmond, Taiz said. Both of these candidates have stellar track records when it comes to working with faculty and students in the CSU.

The PA/Leg Committee encourages chapters to continue putting together their campus political action plans in order to maximize our impact in this election.  We will be very busy September through November 6.

“Corporate interests may have more money, but as electoral success around the country is demonstrating, the efforts of so many union members pounding the pavement is simply more powerful,” Taiz said. “Together, we will continue to elect champions for California and for public higher education.”