Ethnic Studies cuts date back to 2008 crisis

As students meet to organize against potential spending cuts at the College of Ethnic Studies, SF State officials are cautioning that the issue is more multi-faceted than it appears.

“What’s been happening is the College of Ethnic Studies has been spending more than its budget allocation, and the University has been covering that with reserve funds from the academic affairs department,” said Jonathan Morales, director of news and new media at SF State. “That money is now depleted. We understand how that can be seen as a cut by some people, but in fact the University is no longer able to cover the college’s expenditures over its budget allocation.”

The financial issues that surround the College of Ethnic Studies at SF State date back to 2008, when Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of fiscal emergency in California.

In the following months, Schwarzenegger and his legislative team attempted to eliminate the growing deficit through spending cuts and other procedures, according to SFGate

As a result of these budget cuts, California State University campuses received “unallocated reductions of $172 million,” according to the official spending plan. The administration called for each college to cut 10 percent of its budget.

“I arrived and immediately found out that budgets were in complete disarray – my predecessor was forced to cut 10 percent across the board, and of course in our first paychecks we all experienced the 10 percent cut as well,” Provost Sue Rosser said at Thursday’s meeting with President Leslie E. Wong and Ethnic Studies students and faculty, referencing the furlough days that faculty, staff and administration took at the time.

As time went on, California’s financial situation began to improve, but the cutbacks from 2008 were never recovered.

Now the College of Ethnic Studies faces the possibility of a major spending cut, due to a supposed mishandling of funds allocated to the college by Academic Affairs.

According to a factsheet distributed by students at a meeting Feb. 23, Academic Affairs is now out of funding to assist the College of Ethnic Studies, as reported by Golden Gate Xpress. The College will need to cut its budget 15-17 percent, resulting in the potential dismissal of non-tenured lecturers and the loss of 40 percent of Ethnic Studies classes, in addition to other student and faculty programs.

This announcement ignited a large amount of frustration amongst students, and resulted in a large-scale march to SF State’s Seven Hills Conference Center to meet with President Leslie E. Wong to discuss their demands and hear Wong’s understanding of the situation, as previously reported by Golden Gate Xpress

“The governor hasn’t issued the budget for next year, and I hope you will join me to meet with him about our budget,” Wong said.