President of the CSUN Chapter of the CFA Special to the Daily Sundial
As the faculty vote on a strike this week, perhaps a review of the underlying issues is warranted, what could be called the seven deadly sins of management in the CSU.
First, faculty morale is at an all-time low primarily the result of poor management decisions.
Second, resources for instruction are more restricted than ever before, again the result of management decisions to prioritize resources for purposes other than students.
Third, classes are larger than ever, if students can find them to enroll into, again because of decisions that are made by managers and not in the best interests of students.
Fourth, both the number of administrators and their salaries are much higher than ever, one does not have to search very far for the cause of this problem, management lining their own pockets on the backs of faculty and students.
Fifth, the proportion of tenure-track faculty is lower than ever, placing an ever-increasing burden on all faculty members to do more with less. This is a management choice, one designed to undermine tenure in the CSU and to make faculty wages lower and lower.
Sixth, faculty salaries in real terms are lower than ever while, you guessed it, management salaries are higher than ever.
Seventh, junior faculty, the building blocks for the future of the university, they now look with envy at the working conditions of friends in community colleges and high schools, where salaries are higher and normal everyday salary step increases are automatic, not to be fought for and bargained against.
Before going on about “excellence” of the university and rubber-stamping the paperwork for accreditation, perhaps we should address these very real and institutionally life-threatening problems? Unfortunately, the CSU system has made it harder to address the problems and continues to undermine students and their needs. How? The administrative (re management) actions of the chancellor in lavishing excessive perks on retired campus officials and granting a dubious salary/position on a disgraced ex-chancellor only serve to hurt us as a campus and system in the legislature and the eyes of the public. It does not take many such scandals for people to start to ask, “Why give any more money to a system that appears intent on wasting it?”
In fact, our chancellor is not doing his job and not protecting students. Each year the budget requests, in the form of percentage increases, for the CSU are less than that for the Community College system or for the UC system. Why? The administration fails to ask for more, no matter the need, no matter the costs. We should also blame the campus presidents who fail to stand up and be counted. If they fancy themselves good mangers of the institutions they lead they should lobby directly for more funding and approach the CSU Trustees to remove the chancellor, if he is the primary obstruction and they are not just in cahoots with him to ruin the CSU. No, instead of fighting for the system, they get outrageous pay raises, live in fancy homes and drive cars paid for by you. Is it any wonder they do not fight for students and faculty? Is it any wonder they do not call for the chancellor’s job? No.
Students see the fruits of bad administration everyday. Every time you log on to Solar you see the money that was wasted on a computer project, PeopleSoft, which has cost overruns of over $400 million, and these costs rise each day as they strip out resources from campus budgets. Think about how many classes this money could have offered? Think about how many more faculty members these funds could have hired? Think about what the university would be like if such mismanagement was not allowed to continue?
So can you see why your CSUN faculty is mad? Besides these abuses the Chancellor makes no effort to hide his contempt for the faculty and the hard work they do. He accused faculty of laziness. On and on the CSU administration can’t resist making misleading remarks about a “9-month job”, both at the system level and here on campus, remarks that feed misperceptions by the public and provide fuel to those intent on gutting higher education. Both anti-higher education demagogues and administrators say we are overpaid and underworked, the latest mind numbingly ignorant allegation in the war on faculty and your education. The sad truth is that when the university system and campus administrators voice such untruths they are in alignment with the political forces that are dubious at best. The system and campus administrators who say these things are in alignment both ideologically and managerially with those who are trying to undo the very university system where they work. Talk about shortsighted.
So why support the CFA in a strike? We support students and we stand for you against such administrative incompetence, backward thinking and plain public policy stupidity.
Why will we strike? We are in a fight not just for ourselves, but for the future of the CSU, for your future and for ours.
What can you do? Stop by the voting booth this week. We are in front of the library. Please know that you cannot vote on if faculty will or will not strike, but you can stand with your faculty and let your voice be heard when and if we are forced to strike. You can stand up for yourselves and say enough to these misguided administrators.