Magazine Article

The Power of the Faculty
CFA President’s Report

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By Jennifer Eagan
President, California Faculty Association
Philosophy and Public Affairs & Administration, CSU East Bay

Dear Colleagues,

Last year was a big one for CFA. We fought for greater financial stability for our families and came just shy of conducting the biggest higher education in U.S. history.

When people ask me how we fought for fi瘀e and won, I say that it was the solidarity of the faculty. It was the faculty working together on the campuses, talking about our fight to the community, lobbying the legislature, and actively prepare-day strike on all 23 campuses. Plus, we got help from a lot of friends who value public higher education in California. 

As the chant goes, “There ain’t no power like the power of the people ‘cause the power of the people don’t stop!” And we don’t stop either…there’s more work to do.  

We displayed the power of the faculty in spectacular fashion last year, and we must keep wielding it to fight for our students, our colleagues, and our system.

The CSU Needs Our Help!

We devoted last year to getting back on our feet and securing substantial salary increases, but that’s not all our union cares about. We care about our students.  We care about our profession. We care about our univer-sity system. The faculty, students, and staff of the California State University still face serious challenges that we need to address.

First, we all suffer from a lack of state investment in the CSU combined with the questionable spending priorities of the CSU administration. In terms of where the money is spent, the lack of focus on instruction and on student experience has made the state’s disinvestment in the CSU even worse. 

Second, the CSU student body is becoming larger and more racially diverse. Due to the lack of tenure-track hiring and a lack of investment in faculty overall, the diversity of the faculty has not kept pace with our diversifying student body. 

Our students need and deserve more and diverse faculty to help them graduate,their passions, develop their talents, and guide them to their future paths.  

Third, the cornerstones of the work of university faculty—academic freedom and shared governance—have been called into question and are under attack. 

Throughout this year, our colleagues in the statewide CSU Academic Senate and in local academic senates have been asserting their right to determine curriculum and programs and considering guidelines to bolster academic freedom and intellectual property rights in the contract. These goals have met with surprising resistance. 

In both CFA and in the academic senates, faculty will be defining and defending the profession this year, and asserting our rights as faculty members.  

Next, tenure density numbers keep heading in the wrong direction, including dramatic losses in tenure-line librarians and counselors. 

Sixty percent of CSU faculty now work on temporary contracts, even though many of these faculty members are not really tem-porary; they have dedicated their energy and expertise to students for years. 

We have to resist this two-tiered hiring sys-tem that degrades our profession and hurts our students.  

Our profession as knowledge workers is degraded if some of us, much less the majority of us, are treated and paid as though their academic appointment is just a gig or a hobby. It’s not. Our lecturers teach the majority of our students, but without the institutional commitment and time that would provide them with a livable salary and more time to care for and nurture our students.  

We need massive hiring into the tenure track to reverse these trends that disadvantage both the faculty and the students. 

Only when the CSU makes a full commitment to faculty will our students receive what they deserve—faculty who can make a full commitment to them. By refusing to make a substantial enough investment in tenure-line faculty, CSU management disrespects the crucial role of faculty in the experience of students.

The faculty can use our power to reverse these trends, and we will this year.

“The recent history of the CSU is rooted in race and class; it is a tale of disinvestment and inequity. It is a story that negatively impacts students, faculty, and staff in so many ways.”

CFA’s Next Projects

CFA is embarking on two critical projects in 2016/17. 

First, we are preparing for successor contract bargaining, which will begin July 2017. Yes, we will be back at the negoti-ating table in less than a year!  See CFA Bargaining Team Chair Kevin Wehr’s article on bargaining.

Second, we are launching an Anti-Racism and Social Justice Transformation Project in which CFA member-leaders and CFA staff will take part. This personal and col-lective journey will make our union more just and more powerful as we move into the future. See CF䄀 䌀漀mative Action Chair Cecil Canton’s article on the project.

The recent history of the CSU is rooted in race and class; it is a tale of disinvestment and inequity. It is a story that negatively impacts students, faculty, and staff in so many ways. Over the last 30 years, CSU students have become more economically and racially diverse. As we take closer looks at state funding, internal expenditures, and hiring practices, we have to ask ourselves why has there been growing disinvestment in our system? Why are our students now being taught by only 40% tenure-line faculty? Are we doing right by this generation of CSU students?

We’ll be talking about these issues through-out the year. Why? Because they affect the lives and working conditions of the faculty, and we’re a labor union. Why else? Because we’re the faculty of the CSU, and we’re invested in the future of California. 

Our collective future is intimately tied to the social justice mission of the CSU, and we believe that mission must be protected and ensured for California now and in the future.  

And all of this is in addition to tasks al-ready underway—working on the fall elec-tion, continuing to pursue campus-based equity pay to address compression and inversion, and negotiating a solution to prevent lecturer faculty from being stuck in range.   

I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to it. How about you? Let’s get to work!