As I glide through all the rituals that lead up to graduation, I am overcome with a sense of closure.
I enjoyed the food in all my classes’ end-of-the-year parties. I turned in my last final, and I even paid the fee for submitting my grad application late.
But there is one ritual I will be abstaining from: I refuse to participate in this year’s graduation commencement ceremony because I get no sense of closure from being congratulated by a man for whom I have lost all respect.
I’m talking about our campus leader, President Robert A. Corrigan.
When I enrolled in 2006, tuition was $2,500 a year, and now it costs that much for just one semester. And the Board of Trustees have warned that tuition could climb to $7,400 next fall.
Along with the rising tuition, I have seen the depletion of the educational quality at SF State.
Since 2008, 400 teachers have lost their jobs, 340 class sections were terminated and 3,000 eligible students were denied access due to enrollment cuts.
In Fall of 2009, students lost a month of school and faculty and staff took a ten percent pay cut due to the ferocious furloughs.
It seems like the University has been cut to the bone. But there is one area of fat that has not been cut; in fact, it keeps growing.
When I enrolled in 2006, Corrigan absorbed a $271,590 annual salary. Five years later, his huge heap of cash has grown to $298,749, according to Board of Trustees website.
That is a $30,000 increase, which is worth more than my entire college career.
Let’s not forget that on top of this, the president receives a $60,000 housing allowance and a $12,000 car stipend each year.
When confronted with these discrepancies, the administration justifies them by saying SF States needs to compete for the best administrators by offering opulent pay packages.
Well, the best administrators should recognize that leading a state-supported institution comes with limitations, and when the University suffers, the president should suffer.
The president lacks that understanding. He has demonstrated that students, faculty and staff are expendable, but his absurd expanding salary is essential.
When I think of these outlandish contradictions, I am repulsed at the thought of sitting through Corrigan’s speech where he yammers on about hard work and dedication.
If he were talking about how to take advantage of helpless students, I might take him more seriously because he is an authority on the subject.
But when it comes to virtue and service I simply cannot trust him.
An important lesson I have learned from doing class projects and organizing students is that the foundation for any successful relationship is trust.
For a university to function efficiently, its members must feel dignified by their leaders. The people who do the work should expect to shoulder the same burden as the people who want to lead them.
Simply put, the best leaders lead by example.
But this lesson is absent from the minds of the SF State administration.
While students, faculty and staff suffer from fee increases and layoffs, the president and top administrators enjoy luxurious pay raises.
I am definitely going to celebrate these past five years of hard work. But I won’t have my dignity insulted by the hollow congratulations of a hypocrite.