University should protect courses despite consolidation

Ramon Castellblach is an assistant professor of health education and is the California Faculty Association president for the SF State chapter.

As we go forward with the consolidation of colleges at SF State, we should take all possible steps to ensure that we continue playing our part in providing Californians with access to quality higher education.

We should make sure that our campus remains an institution of higher learning and not a trade school. This means that we should continue to look for ways to assure class sizes that provide college-level education. It also means that we should strive to see that students have access to the full range of courses traditionally associated with higher education. As Creative Arts and Social Sciences are the two areas of learning that are being directly affected by the consolidation of colleges, it is particularly important that we work to see that their offerings are carefully protected.

The consolidation means that changes in departments and programs are now pending and any such changes should be made in a way that gives the University community a clear opportunity to consider relevant proposals and make counter-proposals. It is not enough to have proposals emanate from behind closed doors for up or down votes without any opportunity for serious deliberation. Proposals could be put to departmental bodies, and time should be allowed for the development of well-considered views.

Final decisions should take into account deliberations from across the campus as they pertain to providing both needed resources for the classroom and support of classroom work coming from non-academic staff.  Whatever decisions are made, the California Faculty Association is ready to vigorously enforce our union contract and make sure that all changes are done in accordance with its provisions and protect the rights of faculty.

The union continues to call on the administration for fiscal transparency and for special attention to potential savings among positions classified as being in the Management Personnel Plan, i.e., top management. We are particularly concerned that auxiliary organizations within SF State should reveal the resources they may have to protect access to higher education and that a full accounting be made of the use of any reserves we have.

Of course, the overarching problems facing SF State flow from our state budget crisis, the refusal of Republicans to let Californians vote on revenues for California, and an increasingly regressive tax structure that gives breaks to corporations as we are pressured to take cuts.

I hope that we can continue to work with the administration in pressuring the governor and legislature to fund the CSU, as well as public education more generally. California higher education is at a crossroads, and we owe it to students and all Californians both now and in the future to do all we can to assure that accessible, quality higher education continue to serve our state.

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