A not so united front

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Photo Credit: Sami Eshaghi / Assistant Photo Editor

With the California State University budget crisis affecting our education and making it harder for us to graduate on time, it is disheartening to see the many reactions that students, faculty and professors are having toward the whole situation.

First, it was a 10 percent fee hike that turned into a 30 percent slap in the face as classes began to disappear left and right. The difficult decision that faculty and professors had to take did not help the situation at all.

They were forced to accept furlough days in hopes of saving their jobs and their colleagues. I must state that I am in no way criticizing their decision. By sacrificing 9.23 percent of their salaries, many excellent professors that do not have tenure are being saved from having to stand in the unemployment line, for now.

A couple of days before classes started, I had the opportunity to cover a California Faculty Association question-and-answer session that took place at the Orange Grove Bistro. I was blown away by what took place in that room.

Many in attendance were overcome with anger and frustration and lost all civility. A professor, who did not identify himself, began the bashing by going after the CFA leaders and the union. He was not the only one. And as bickering got worse, a professor sitting in the back yelled: “Charlie is dividing us with this vote!” I could not have said it better myself.

To see highly educated faculty and professors going off on each other and using the F-word (and I am not talking about “furloughs” here),  made me think that all hope was lost. Great, I thought. All we need is for students to turn against professors because they are not allowing them to add the classes that they need.

But to my surprise, on the first day of classes, the campus did not look like it has in the past. Students were not clamoring to crash into classes. I even heard from various students and professors that parking was not as difficult as other semesters during the first week of classes.

I was wrong. There was not going to be any friction or divide between students and professors. The division is between students themselves. Some have decided to become vocal and are getting involved. But others have been discouraged enough to avoid trying to fight for the classes they must take to graduate.

During the CFA event, another professor foreshadowed students’ reactions.  He said, “Students don’t care that we will be canceling classes; in fact, my evaluations will be higher this semester because of that.”

He was right. There are many more students that simply do not care and are not mobilizing to stand up for their education. Sure, many headed over to, “Vent at the tent,” but were they really doing something or were they just complaining? Are they letting the CSU leadership know that they are tired of being taken advantage of or are they taking the easy way out by putting up a façade in front of their professors who push them to get involved?

Both the reaction of those in attendance at the CFA meeting and the careless reaction of students are self-destructive. It seems as if the old saying “divide and conquer” is in effect summarizing our demise. By fighting each other or not taking action, the only ones that come out losing are us.

Now don’t get me wrong, not everyone is apathetic about the situation. There are some students that are willing to defend their rights; for example, those involved in Students for a Quality Education, who have been present in several CFA meetings showing their support. But who is supporting them?
There are also faculty and professors that have gone out of their way to educate students on how this situation will affect them, although they shouldn’t have to. It is our education and we should care enough to stay current on the details.

I know it is hard to become involved when many students are commuting to and from school, have full-time jobs and are also full-time students trying to get through college. But really, this should not be an excuse. If you can find time to check your e-mail or chat with friends on social networks, then you have the time to write a letter, make a call or e-mail the CSU leadership to let them know that you have had enough.

It is important to support those that are standing up to lead us through this difficult time. It is easy to blame them when things go wrong but how is that going to help us?  It is in fact for this very reason that I believe more students and professors are hesitant to take a stand. It is hard to take action when no one else in the same position is supporting you.  The CSUN community must come together to support each other during this difficult time, and all apathy and finger-pointing must come to an end, because we are all on the same boat.