Dear President Mahoney, Provost Summit and Senate Chair Gerber:
This is a letter put together by the SFSU chapter of the CFA this morning in response to the power outages across the Bay Area

By noon on Wed., October 9, PG&E plans to cut electrical power to 800,000 account holders.  (The actual numbers affected will be much higher, as this figure does not include members of households.) Eight of nine Bay Area counties will experience significant power outages.  PG&E and the news media estimate that it could take up to five days to restore power to affected areas. The outages are a response to increased risk of wildfire due to weather conditions but, as even PG&E has asserted, this massive power shutdown is also directly related to climate change.  We should expect the “new normal” to include more serious and more regular disruptions to our infrastructure and everyday life.

Over fifty-percent of SF State’s students, staff, and faculty reside outside of San Francisco County and within zones targeted for power outages.  As a consequence, many of these fellow Gators will soon find it difficult if not impossible to cook or preserve food, use electrical lights after sundown, communicate or otherwise use the internet, send their children or dependents to school because of district closures, safely navigate surface streets due to inoperative traffic signals, use cellphones because of battery drainage and offline cell towers.  At the same time, many faculty, staff, and students have reasonable fear of wildfire threats to their homes and their families. The impact of these power cuts for over half of SF State affiliates promises to be massive and chaotic.

We request that the University review its decision to remain open during the current emergency and that – - per CBA 23.19 – -  the President immediately grant paid emergency leave to all affected faculty.  We believe that requiring faculty, staff, and students to maintain their regular work and attendance schedules places an undue burden on Bay Area residents already struggling to cope with the consequences of an unprecedented climate event.  We also believe that requiring faculty, staff, and students to maintain their regular work and attendance schedules also potentially increases the risk of danger because it puts more commuters on unsafe roadways, keeps people away from their homes, and ignores the stress and anxiety created by this cascading event.  Additionally, in our computer and electronic-mediated world, the lack of power also makes it impossible to communicate by email or access the internet, both integral to the University’s daily business.

Like other Bay Area colleges and universities, including UC Berkeley,  Mills College, Merritt College, Santa Rosa Junior College, Sonoma state University, and UC Santa Cruz, we believe that San Francisco State University should do the prudent thing - -  curtail operations and cancel classes for the duration of this crisis.   

We also request that in light of the new realities of global climate change and its effects, the University draw up more comprehensive and transparent contingency plans for climate-related disruptions and disasters.  The range of these plans should include region-wide events as well as local and on-campus challenges such as super-heated classrooms and carbon-negative measures.  

At a minimum, resilience in the face of fundamental climate transformation requires preparation.  Designing and organizing this preparation should include all University stakeholders – - faculty, students, and staff.

We look forward to your response and your mutual participation in girding our community for these difficult days and for the days ahead.  As SF State’s motto asserts, “Experientia Docet.”  This is our opportunity to be better students of experience.  


James Martel and the CFA-SFSU Executive Board