CSU officials, Reed should be ashamed for shunning students while paying presidents more

Sara Donchey

Illustration by Sara Donchey.

Once upon a time, public education catered to the public. Thanks to the continued efforts of Chancellor Charles Reed, that legacy is slowly being dismantled.

While many students reveled in their Spring Break reverie, the CSU was once again taking tragic steps toward ruining what up until recently has been one of the finest public higher education systems in the country.

Last week, CSU officials announced they are freezing admissions to CSUs for the Spring 2013 semester, with few exceptions, and plan to waitlist all eligible students for the 2013-2014 academic year pending the outcome of the November elections to see if voters will approve a $200 million tax increase to fund the system.

The following day, the Board of Trustees voted to increase the pay packages for two campus presidents to more than $400,000–and may have gone higher if not prohibited by a new mechanism that regulates pay raises for new presidents.

This is appalling.

Trustee Steven Glazer said after the salary vote that he was disappointed with the pay increases, given the admissions freeze, noting publicly that he felt that in this time of economic difficulty, there needs to be a perception of shared hardship. While the paltry thousands of dollars given to the two presidents would most certainly not save the CSUs, he is most certainly right.

As students, the perception of these recent acts is that the CSU administrators, trustees and Chancellor Charles Reed don’t care one bit about what happens to the students whose futures and educations they have been charged with protecting.

Thousands of students have now been sent the message loud and clear: They are no longer the ones who CSU cares to provide for. Instead, they are a liability that CSU officials seek to control and exploit.

CSU officials have already gambled away the educational future of thousands upon thousands of students. Now they are leaving the only lifeline in the hands of an unpredictable voter population that is already hotly divided on whether to increase taxes.

Holding up the admission of students based on an impending tax vote holds hostage the dreams of thousands of high school and community college students who have scrimped, saved and struggled to make sure that they could go to school. Politicizing student lives is disgusting.

Apparently cutting our classes and stiffing our teachers is not enough of a “screw you” to students. There are no words for the level of recklessness at play here. We are not pawns. And we should never have our access to education cut off.

Thousands of students have now had the door to higher education unapologetically shut in their faces. That’s thousands future engineers, teachers, writers, nurses and professionals who have been stifled. Those are thousands of students who were planning on transferring from other institutions. Those are thousands of students who might choose to cut their losses and try to work to pay off the student loans they’ve already accumulated. Thousands of students who can’t afford to wait another semester to finish their degrees.

The CSU should be ashamed of itself for using hard-working, dedicated, hopeful students as political pawns in their continual game of chicken with the California legislature.

Instead of rolling up their sleeves and getting down to the job of eliminating redundant positions, wasteful programs and pet projects so that the majority of students can continue their path toward degrees, the CSU is more inclined to pick a political fight.

All these steps have done is fuel the fire against Chancellor Reed and the trustees’ allegedly secretive “for-profit model” goals.

There doesn’t seem to be much secret about it now. It’s time to stop debating or decrying each of the stupid decisions this group makes.

The one common denominator in all of these anti-education steps is the Board of Trustees and Chancellor Reed. Unless they can pull their heads out of the sand soon – an unlikely possibility – then it’s time students stop complaining about tuition increases and enrollment freezes and focus on the decision makers.

These are public representatives who seem to have lost interest in the public good.
Maybe it’s time for them to quit while they’re behind and start enjoying those retirements we’ve so generously paid for.

Or maybe a forced retirement is in order, before they do any more damage.

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