Administrative spending more important to trustees than student welfare

Students returned to school this semester to discover that in addition to a 10 percent tuition increase approved last spring, classes would now cost 12 percent more than they expected to pay when they left for the summer hiatus.

Sara Donchey

CSU administration is spending money like they just don't give a @#$%. Artwork by Sara Donchey.

That makes a 22 percent increase in just one year. That’s a staggering amount of money for students already struggling to pay for housing in one of the country’s most expensive cities, astronomically-priced textbooks and maybe squeeze in a cup of coffee here and there.

And it appears from the California State University trustees’ recent actions that they could care less about their students’ burden.

In the same meeting that students were asked to pay more for college and their chance at a brighter future, the board approved a $100,000 raise for the new president of San Diego State University, which brings his salary to a whopping $350,000 in addition to a $50,000 annual stipend from his University’s foundation. Mind you, the median income for California households in 2009, according to U.S. Census data, was $58,925. His stipend alone is nearly as much as the annual income per HOUSEHOLD in this state.

This raise was approved against the advice and urging from Gov. Jerry Brown and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the state’s two highest-ranking elected officials. What more do the trustees need to realize how inappropriate this executive compensation appears to the students it alleges to represent?

For the 2011-12 year at SF State a student will pay a total of $6,422 for tuition and campus-based fees. In 2008-09 it was $3,849. For students who started at the University four years ago, their senior year will cost more than double their freshman year.

CSU trustees said without the tuition increase 30,000 to 40,000 students could be denied access to CSUs. But even with the increase, 10,000 students were still denied access to education. Was this the trustees’ way of doing students a favor?

CSU employees are also paying the consequences for the cuts. Nine percent have been laid off since 2008.

There must be a better way to cope with the $650 million cut to CSU funding, and it is not at the expense of the students and the faculty, the backbone of our universities.

One small step is to cut superfluous administrative costs and outrageous pay packages for top “leaders” in a time of fiscal crisis.

On our own campus, SF State President Robert A. Corrigan’s income is just under $300,000 for this year with a housing stipend of $60,000, according to the CSU’s Executive Compensation Summary. Again, a stipend that rivals median household income in California. Is $300,000 not enough to pay rent in this city?

With this week’s announcement of Corrigan’s retirement, we think the salary of the next president should reflect these hard fiscal times, and no housing stipend should be granted.

Administrators should also feel the effects of the budget crunch, it can’t be born by students alone.

Yet even that somehow feels like little more than a drop in the bucket in comparison to the estimated budget shortfalls. This university, and its parent system, must do more to show us that the students pockets are not the only place they’re looking to scrounge up the extra money we need to continue our primary objective — to learn and to teach.

Another $100 million could be cut in the middle of the year. This could only get worse. We need to find a solution now.

Presidents of the universities continue to receive raises and housing bonuses while students and their families look for an extra $300 to keep their seats in the classroom. This needs to stop, and cuts to administrators’ salaries should be made as quickly as tuition was raised.

How much more can students be expected to bear?

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