Chancellor’s new executive order could hike cost of some courses by up to 90%

Chancellor’s new executive order could hike cost of some courses by up to 90% as long as the university says it doesn’t have enough money.

A new executive order issued last week by Chancellor Charles Reed could shift more CSU classes, even those required to complete degrees, into special sessions that charge students far steeper fees while the faculty who teach the classes have far fewer rights.

This executive order could give the chancellor and CSU executives carte blanche to move any course they wish into full-price self-support special sessions. This would mean students cover the entire cost of offering the classes, essentially privatizing them.

“Special” academic sessions are distinct from regular campus quarters or semesters. Various CSU campuses have them, for example, the winter “intersession” in January held at some campuses. The administration claims that summer session – which has long been integrated into the regular academic year on many campuses – is also special sessions.

Such special sessions used to be governed by Executive Order 802, which said that courses could be offered through self-support special sessions only in special circumstances such as that they were for career enrichment or retraining, were off-campus, or were unusually expensive to provide.

Under the new Executive Order 1047, courses could be offered whenever state funding is deemed by CSU executives to be “unavailable.” Since the CSU budget is opaque in its details, it is nearly impossible to disprove the university lacks the money to offer particular classes through state support.

As long as the administration claims that “State General Fund appropriations to support the courses” are “either unavailable or inappropriate,” students can be forced to pay full freight for any course, including courses required to complete their major. At the same time, the faculty who teach these classes have fewer rights under the faculty contract.

CFA attorneys believe Executive Order 1047 violates Education Code section 89708 because under this new executive order, special session courses do not have to serve a different purpose than regular session courses.

Meantime, students are challenging a previous move along similar lines in court. Students from CSU East Bay and three other campuses recently filed a lawsuit against the chancellor to stop the move of Summer Term 2010 from state-support to self-support along with the imposition of a new “Instructional Support Fee” in summer. Together with other fee hikes, these new fees would ratchet up the cost of taking courses this summer by up to 90 percent over last summer.