Eastern Michigan University accounting professor Howard Bunsis visited SF State Thursday, April 7 to examine the University’s uncertain financial situations, with special attention given to the Ethnic Studies funding controversy. Bunsis announced that SF State was not operating at a structural deficit like administration officials previously claimed, and that money should not be cut from any of the colleges.
“The idea of a college owing money or having a deficit is completely made up,” Bunsis said. “There’s no empirical evidence for it. Show me where the revenues are and where the expenses are and where is that structural deficit.”
The independent financial analysis compared SF State to the rest of the California State University system. The meeting occurred during a 48-hour media blackout period between the California Faculty Association and the CSU. SF State CFA President Sheila Tully announced the blackout at the beginning of the meeting.
“We cannot talk about anything related to the strike, to salaries, or anything else that is involved in this labor dispute while we attempt negotiations (with the CSU),” Tully said.
The meeting was hosted by the CFA as part of their ongoing event series leading up to the potential strikes, to provide students and faculty with information about why the strike is happening and how it will affect the University, students and faculty.
“The goal of this event is for us as faculty, students and staff to try to gain some insight and understanding into the finances and accounting at SF State,” Tully said. “Our ultimate goal is for more budget transparency, and learning which questions to ask and why we want the answers.”
During his analysis, Bunsis emphasized that SF State and the CSU are doing well financially.
“SF State is in solid financial condition; they have sufficient reserves,” Bunsis said. “This institution does not have a financial crisis.”
Bunsis brought up SF State’s assets, operating cash flow, enrollment rates and tuition costs, all of which were at adequate levels compared to the rest of the CSU system. Bunsis repeatedly put SF State in the middle in regards to its financial ranking.
Attending the meeting were students and faculty from Defend and Advance Ethnic Studies, who were frustrated with administration’s lack of transparency concerning the 2016-17 budget and the financial issues surrounding the College of Ethnic Studies.
“We’ve been trying to make a case to administration, and it’s hard to find the numbers we need,” American Indian Studies lecturer Amy Casselman said. “People are denying that there is a problem, and it’s difficult for us to document the problem, even though we know it’s there.”
At a University Budget Committee meeting April 1, co-chair and Vice President of Administration and Finance Ron Cortez said that the 2016-17 budget will be finalized in June.
When asked what students and faculty in the College of Ethnic Studies could do to help the advancement of their college using the information presented during the meeting, Bunsis insisted that organizing is key to any sort of advancement.
“We should always be organizing to stand up for what we believe in, and the number one thing you do is organize,” Bunsis said. “Refer to the mission of this university and what that mission says, and talk about how the College of Ethnic Studies fits in with that mission. If you believe in this mission- which I hope that you do- then stand together, no matter what happens. I hope you guys stand up for what you want.”
Since the analysis, the CFA and CSU have come to a tentative agreement that has postponed the strike, as reported by Xpress.