CFA twisting facts, using students’ trust


Over the past few weeks, I have witnessed the continued misrepresentation of facts, inappropriate use of students, and the personal attacks on the administrators of this learning institution. I can say with all honesty that these are a result of the California Faculty Association’s frustration with the collective bargaining process. Therefore, the CFA has attempted to discredit and threaten the California State University administration by utilizing student support through their stance against student fee increases.

However, student support for faculty appears to be only as a result of their stance on student fees. Until recently, there was little information on the topic, and only when negotiations went sour did the CFA take a stand on student fees. Prior to their recent stance, the CFA had not passed a resolution opposing student fees since 2003, even though CSU students have continuously fought against fee increases. Regardless, the CFA has failed to address issues that have arisen due to their stance on student fees. On numerous occasions, CFA officials have been asked, “Would faculty join students in a walkout opposing student fee increases?” In response, on March 14, 2007, at the CSU Board of Trustees meeting, CFA President John Travis stated, “We have not talked about that,” and he claimed that it was the first time that the CFA ever heard of this sort of suggestion. This is a false statement, because on February 17, 2007, during the session of the California State Student Association’s monthly meeting, Travis was asked this very same question and responded with the aforementioned. Moreover, Travis was also questioned with regards to the consequences that would take into affect should students walk out in opposition to student fees or in support of the faculty. Travis stated, “We hope that faculty members will accommodate students.” He continued to state that the rolling strikes will not have a major impact on our education. Travis failed to realize that some faculty members will still hold classes, and faculty members are justified to maintain the course syllabus should a strike take place. He refused to acknowledge attendance requirements for classes and the consequences of missing exams to support the faculty.

Travis was also asked one of the most important questions and the CFA had no response, “Would the faculty accept an ultimatum that would raise student fees to pay for their contract offer in its entirety?” I personally believe that no student should take a stance in support of the faculty until the CFA can answer these important questions. Ignorance is not an excuse for the CFA to decide on these issues nor can the CFA implement policy to ensure that there are no repercussions for the actions students may take. Supporting the CFA would be highly questionable if you are not guaranteed a chance to make up work missed. I would urge all students who support the CFA to fully evaluate the decision they have made and the possible effects it may have on their educational careers.

We must also address the personal attacks undertaken by the CFA here at California State University, Northridge and statewide. We must all realize that the collective bargaining is run through the Chancellors Office and not individual campuses. Presidents may be asked for opinions, but generally, all actions are taken by the chancellor, his staff and the Board of Trustees. The CFA has not only personally attacked Chancellor Reed, but has now brought the 23 campus presidents into the mix. These actions are highly unethical and diminish the reputation of the CFA. Tactics used by CFA have gone on to interrupt meetings that are not related to the collective bargaining process. For example, on November 15, the CFA and student supporters, in protest of the student fee increase and the salary gap, prevented the CSSA Policy Agenda from being heard at the Board of Trustees meeting due to their unprofessional disruptions. Also, the CFA, specifically “Charlie Watch,” rallied outside of the California School Board Associations Meeting in December where Chancellor Reed spoke about the importance of preparing high school students for college. Why would the CFA attend such a meeting when it does not pertain to the collective bargaining process? These actions make me question the intent of the CFA and there stance on access to the CSU. Last year the CFA pulled funding away from the California Higher Education Student Summit. CHESS is a conference designed to develop student advocacy skills culminating with a trip to the capitol to meet with state legislators. Last year’s topic revolved around the potential student fee increase. If the CFA was really in support of students why did they pull funding? This question has remained unanswered by the CFA.

In addition to this misrepresentation of facts and personal attacks, the CFA has failed to uphold the law of California with regards to Chapter 12 of the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act, which states, “For purposes of the California State University only, ‘scope of representation’ means, and is limited to, wages, hours of employment, and other terms and conditions of employment. The scope of representation shall not include: (?) (B) The amount of any student fees that are not a term or condition of employment. (C) Admission requirements for students, conditions for the award of certificates and degrees to students, and the content and conduct of courses, curricula, and research programs.” If the CFA is truly interested in representing their side of the issue they should be acting within state law.

If the faculty was serious about supporting students, they would also work with us on the issue of textbook prices. The faculty are the ones who assign textbooks for our classes, and I completely agree with the article that was published on March 15 in the Sundial that addresses this very concern. Ultimately, book costs are a form of student fees. If the faculty were serious about supporting us students they would employ policies that help reduce the cost of textbooks.

I would like to express that I do believe the faculty is underpaid for the service they provide. However, I don’t believe it is either the responsibility or the role of the students to participate in this process regardless of their stance on student fees. I thank the Associated Students for listening to both sides and deliberating for the time they have. I encourage them to remain impartial. There are many other aspects of student life, such as accessibility and providing a quality education for students, which is what the Associated Student should be concentrating on. For instance, the issue of size discrimination, which effects a large population of this campus, has a direct impact on one’s education. Ultimately, funding for the raises of faculty will have to come from somewhere, and the governor has already neglected to allocate funding upon the request of Chancellor Reed. If the state refuses to allocate the money, more than likely, the money will have to come from student fees and another fee increase may be in place. Do you honestly think the CFA will continue to oppose fee increases if the get what they want? Also, I encourage you all to read the CPEC Report that the CFA keeps referring to. It does say that the faculty is underpaid by 18 percent to comparable universities, yet it also states that the executives of the CSU are 40 percent underpaid to comparable institutions. Please, evaluate the facts and observe the actions of the CFA before you make the decision to support a strike that will obviously interrupt your education.