There are those individuals who “fall in line,” but then there are those who are actually just “tools.” CSU Chancellor Charles Reed, in his latest defense of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, has crossed the line from “company man” to tool, and CSU students are the ones losing out because of it.
In response to April 27’s student-led protest of Schwarzenegger and his treatment of the CSU budget, Reed released a statement showing his appreciation for Schwarzenegger’s ongoing “support” of the CSU system. This hilarious document, consisting of four paragraphs of hard-line “follow-alongism,” says a lot of things, but is simply a poorly-worded thank you note in response to Schwarzenegger’s “unwavering support for the CSU,” as the letter puts it, and actively “rejects the false statements that protesters are saying about the governor.”
Every paragraph of this statement is worthy of students’ attention. One of the funniest items is the chancellor’s claim that “CSU fees are still among the lowest in the entire country — about $3,000 per year for a high-quality education that would cost much more in other states.” This is a valid claim in a world where blind relativism is the only view worth having.
Yes, UCLA costs much more than CSUN. So does Arizona State University. But to compare the quality of our education to that of a more expensive public university seems na?ve without relevant qualifications. CSUN students were used to not paying much for their education, and that was fine, as they weren’t exactly expecting an Ivy League academic experience in return. It was something students understood, as many of them were just looking for a bachelor’s degree that would someday yield a job, and not much else. But once the balance of “you get what you pay for” is upset, this defense breaks down.
But the crux of this goofy defense is the belief that the governor has done all he can to protect the CSU. For instance, the document states that the governor “has proposed adding more than $200 million to the CSU’s budget for the coming year.” This is fantastic news for students, until they realize that about half the money is coming from those same students in the form of fee increases. So, in the end, the students should be thankful … to themselves.
The Los Angeles Times published an article May 8 detailing a large amount of recently acquired funding that the Schwarzenegger administration was planning on funneling back into the state. This new funding was the unexpected result of a strong annual performance by California stock investments and increased in-state corporate revenue. These funds will make it possible for California to put some money back into all the areas it was forced to cut from during the budget crisis, especially transportation and education.
Besides the fact that these supplemental funds are not even earmarked for higher education, the point is still the same. Sure, once funds make themselves magically available, as was the case in this situation, the governor is more than willing to turn them over. But that says nothing of the governor’s devotion to the CSU. The point of testing someone’s principles, to find out if he really is an ally, is to see how he reacts when times are tough, and when finances are tight.
When backed into a corner, the governor did not prioritize the CSU, and that’s what matters. Worse yet, the Republican leadership in California is completely unwilling to even consider new taxation on non-students to help soften the blow. Therefore, when pundits smugly ask, “Well, finances were tight, what else could we have done?” students have an answer — new taxes, preferably on Californians who can afford it most.
This administration is not an ally. This is an enemy, and Reed should recognize that.
The last sentence of his statement is particularly humorous, and helps summarize the primary student bone of contention: “The CSU could not find a better supporter than Schwarzenegger when it comes to higher education funding.”
Is Reed kidding? He’s essentially saying that even if a bleeding-heart, tax-until-it-hurts, no-relief-for-the-upper-class, poor-students-come-first ?ber-hyphenated-Democrat were elected to the governor’s office, that individual would not be a better supporter of higher education than cut-happy Schwarzenegger. How can an individual as intelligent as Reed say such a thing with a straight face?
We suppose things like that come easily when you’re a company man. The CSU needs someone at the top who, instead of looking out for the CSU itself, looks out for its students, or at least can recognize someone who doesn’t.
Unsigned editorials represent the majority view of the Sundial editorial board and do not necessarily represent the views of the entire staff.