California faculty and students propose CSU budgetary goals

During a telephone conference Wednesday, California Faculty Association President John Travis and Communications Director Alice Sunshine addressed three goals they have for the CSU system: a reduction in student fee hikes, more money for enrollment growth, and more hiring of full-time faculty.

In January, the CSU trustees and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed an 8 percent increase in student fees for undergraduates, and a 10 percent increase for graduate students.

However, Sunshine said graduate students with teaching credentials will most likely not be affected by the anticipated fee hikes.

Final numbers are expected to come out by the end of June, according to Travis.

During the 2003-04 school year, there was a budget cut of $311 million, and during 2004-05, there was a cut of $200 million, causing an overall cut of $511 million or 63 percent, according to the CFA.

The cuts, as a result, affect the number of classes offered at CSUs, the number of faculty jobs, and the enrollment growth.

“Strictly speaking, if the legislature and the governor wanted to give the CSU more money, (they could),” said Sunshine.

The trustees can still raise budget fees, but it does not mean the governor is not somehow involved in it, she said.

“We suffered tremendously,” said Travis.

Travis said CSUs did not fully recover from the $511 million budget cut, but only recovered halfway by canceling several classes for the semester.

“Student fees don’t make up for the budget reductions,” Travis said. “They make up for part of it. I’m cautiously optimistic that things will get better.”

The CSU trustees have asked for a 2.5 percent or $50.8 million increase in student enrollment, but the CFA said that will not be enough.

“We’re down for the first time in enrollment,” said Travis. “It’s not because the demand’s not there.”

He said it is due to students not being able to pay for enrollment.

“I have been trying to graduate this year, and one of the obstacles are the fees,” said Jesse Cerda, a senior liberal studies major at Cal Poly Pomona.

Cerda said he is working two jobs just to pay for school, and because some classes he needs to take are not being offered this semester, he has to wait to graduate.

“I can’t even get the classes that I need,” said Cerda. “It’s simply because there’s no stability in this system.”

Cerda also said one of his professors, who had a big influence on his life and education, lost his job recently because of budget cuts.

“To see him go, it’s really bad,” said Cerda.

The CFA said a growth in student enrollment is predicted to pass 3 percent in the CSU system, the system is aiming for an additional 1.5 percent in enrollment growth funds to the current 2.5 percent, totaling 4 percent.

Norma Guitierrez, a political science and American studies major at CSU, East Bay in Hayward, also expressed discontent with past and future budget issues.

“When I first started off (in school), our tuition was $500 per quarter,” Guitierrez said. “Now we’re paying $900 per quarter. I know that this summer I’ll have to find a full-time job in order to pay those fees.”

Guitierrez said she still has to ask her parents for financial support to pay for her books.

“Our library hours have been majorly cut,” Guitierrez added. Computer lab hours around campus have been cut as well, she said.

“There (are) less courses being offered, especially being part of the Latin American studies department,” Guitierrez said. “Some of my courses are only offered once a year.”

Cerda said he is dissatisfied because the CSU system has and will continue to have budget cuts, but he does not see any benefits in school programs.

The CFA also proposed a resolution to the California legislature to hire more full-time faculty because it believes the CSU will have a better teaching system.

Travis said there are more classes that have too many students in them for one part-time teacher, and the CFA wants to reduce that.

“We think that’s just not good educational structure,” said Travis. “Smaller courses are generally considered to be better courses. Everybody understands that in K through 12.”

The same thing should be understood in the CSU system, said Travis.

“The problem with part-time faculty is that they’re very vulnerable (with their job positions),” said Travis.

Travis said for things to change for the CSU system, non-active students and faculty have to get involved.

Guitierrez said students need to be educated more on how budget cuts affect them.

Travis expressed a similar sentiment.

“Students have to ask questions to their legislators,” Travis said. “Now that all the 23 campuses are back in full swing, students need to keep the pressure on the California legislature.”

Travis said student involvement is influential, and has caused changes in the California legislature.

“We just can’t let the CSU wither, so I have hope,” he said.