Students, CFA members, other CSU workers, and parents attended Tuesday’s CSU Board of Trustees meeting in Long Beach, and implored trustees to do better, demanded dignity on the job, safety from police who do more harm than good, and the dismantling of systemic oppression at the CSU.
As usual, trustees kept the public waiting and started Tuesday’s meeting late – 45 minutes this time – so students, CFA members, and other CSU workers took to clapping and chanting to make their displeasure heard: “Let’s go, start the show. Let’s go, start the show.”
During public comment, dozens of students, faculty, and staff told trustees they need to do better for students.
Many were fired up over the trustees’ summertime project of awarding astronomical pay increases to administration and campus presidents.
CFA Channel Islands member John Caravello provided trustees a peek inside the unflagging work and support faculty provide students.
“In the last 12 months, I have had two students attempt suicide, one student come to class after having cut their arm, and another handful or so open up to me about suicidal thoughts and thoughts of self-harm. I teach basically a full load — four or five classes a semester. I am on my campus union board, I sit on the Academic Senate as a lecturer representative, and I am advisor for two clubs. The university pays me for my classes, but none of the other essential roles that I play. I make around $60,000.
“(CSU Channel Islands) President Yao, who took the smallest raise of all presidents, makes $60,000 as well. Wait, that can’t be right. Oh! He makes $60,000 in housing allowance!” said Caravello a lecturer at CSU Channel Islands. “I will put it in the corporate speak y’all actually understand: rightsize administration salaries and reallocate those funds to actually benefit the employees and patrons of this multi-billion dollar business.”
Other public speakers called on trustees to heed the years-long calls by CFA and Students for Quality Education to reinvest in counseling and alternatives to militarized campus police.
“Historically, we know that policing and broader punitive systems were founded on legacies of racism, colonialism, and capitalism. And empirically, we know that police do very little to improve safety on our campuses. In many cases, their impact is measurably negative, with Black, Indigenous, and Latinx people bearing the brunt of the damage.
“We need counselors, not cops. Resources, not resource officers. Positive peace, not the threat of police violence on our campuses. And we need YOU to make it happen,” said CFA member Earl Aguilera, assistant professor at Fresno State.
To repair the shame and mistrust brought to the CSU, Chancellor’s Office, and trustees over the last few years, faculty and staff provided concrete steps to remake the People’s University.
“It is widely known, but I am repeating it, that students, faculty, staff, legislators, academic senators, BIPOC alumni and other alumni, and many community members have no trust in the current Board of Trustees, the Chancellor’s Office, and many campus presidents’ leadership of the CSU system,” said CFA President Charles Toombs. “CSU system leadership is a national embarrassment in higher education.
“While others today in their public comments have and will address many specifics that are a part of the lack of trust in CSU leadership and its failure to be responsible and accountable to current students, faculty, and staff in its refusal to address systemic racism and so many other inequities, I want to focus on one area where trust might be restored. The cliché put your money where your mouth is rings so loudly and with so much truth as a beginning place to restore trust in what many of us are living as a failed system, or as a perfectly functioning white supremacy culture system.”
Our incredible members speak about the failures of the California State University system.