Faculty and students came toe-to-toe with Chancellor Timothy White at Cal State East Bay to express their frustration as part of a contentious listening tour forum Monday afternoon.
White’s listening tour, during which he visits all 23 CSU campuses throughout the state to listen to each community’s concerns, comes in the midst of stalled contract talks with CSU faculty and their union, the California Faculty Association.
White’s justifications for how and why funds are allocated within the California State University system were mostly met with scoffs and boos from the multitude of students and faculty clad in red, “I don’t want to strike but I will” t-shirts.
“I’m wondering, do you treat all of your alumni with this level of respect?” asked White, a Cal State East Bay graduate, after repeated booing from the crowd.
Students and faculty voicing their concerns felt the stories of their struggles were falling on unsympathetic ears. Abner Hauge, a fine arts and international relations major at Cal State East Bay, shared the sentiments of the booing crowd.
“They’re running the CSU as if it were a corporation – like Goldman Sachs,” Hauge said. “Those kind of economic policies have led to crash after crash after crash in the last 20 years economically.”
White said that the additional $97 million allocated to the CSU system this year in the state’s budget is being allocated according to the sustainability model, and that the bulk of that funding went toward hiring more tenure-track faculty.
The CFA is currently engaged in a “Fight for Five” – a 5 percent general salary increase for all faculty – with CSU management. In October, faculty voted to strike if contract negotiations with management fail to result in a fair deal, setting strike dates for April 13-15 and April 18-19 if a settlement is not reached, as previously reported by Golden Gate Xpress.
CFA President Jennifer Eagan, who teaches philosophy at Cal State East Bay, organized a “practice picket” with fellow faculty outside of the New University Union an hour before the forum to give White a glimpse of faculty solidarity and show that they will not back down from their threat to strike.
“It is really up to Chancellor White and the board of trustees to help avoid this strike,” Eagan said. “Our options of persuading him are getting slimmer and slimmer.”
What started as a group of about a dozen faculty and students chanting and holding up picket signs more than tripled in the hour before the forum began. The impassioned group marched in a circle, chanting slogans such as, “Chancellor White/ see the light/ don’t be tight/ five is right!”
Some picket signs emphasized that the group was “just practicing.” Though most of the practicing picketers quieted themselves and entered the forum, a small faction stayed behind and continued their chanting as the forum began.
“We want to make sure everyone knows we are not on strike yet,” Eagan said. “This is much smaller than the actual strike (will be).”
White’s listening tour will come to SF State April 5 at an as-yet-undisclosed time and place, according to Shiba Bandeeba, president of the SF State chapter of Students for a Quality Education. Bandeeba gathered a small group of SF State students to show support for and picket alongside CSUEB’s faculty and branch of SQE.
The forum came to a hurried close after running later than the scheduled end time of 4:30 p.m. Students and faculty erupted in a chant of, “Strike!” as White exited out the rear.