As the California State University executives convened inside the Long Beach chamber room, faculty, staff and students were sure to make their presence known yesterday as they loudly taunted the board members in protest.
Peering through a window from the outside of the building in, a photo of Chancellor Charles Reed’s head – blown up larger than the diameter of a stop sign – was held up for every member of the board, including Reed, to see.
In unison, the crowd chanted loud enough for all to hear.
“Hey hey, ho ho, Charlie Greed must go!” the crowd mocked.
CSU headquarters were transformed yesterday into ground zero for protesters from all 23 of the campuses to vent their anger and frustration over what they say is the blatant mishandling of the CSU system.
Among the issues the protesters want addressed are stagnant faculty pay and student fee hikes, overcrowded classrooms, cuts in course offerings and millions of taxpayer dollars given away to top CSU executives.
On hand, according to a police count, were about 1,500 protesters.
Starting on Ocean Avenue, protesters holding signs of dissent streamed down the sidewalk of Golden Shore Street to the CSU waterfront headquarters.
Jerry Hackett, a veterinarian for the college of agriculture at Cal Poly Pomona, shared his feelings of disapproval for what he said has been selfish mismanagement by the part of CSU executives.
“They get billowing parachutes of cash, and we get nothing,” he said in reference to the millions of dollars that have been dispersed as “executive perks” for top CSU administrators to add to their already existing, three-figure salaries. “Meantime, CSUEU (California State University Employees Union) workers get a 3.5 percent pay increase in the last five years.”
Also mixed in the crowd was Cal State San Marcos business professor George Diehr. Diehr attributed the disarray within the CSU system to bad management.
“The state hasn’t kept up the budget,” he said. “Internal misallocation of funds, coupled with a tremendous growth of bureaucracy doesn’t help,” he said.
Diehr referred to the individual board members as sycophants. “They’re sucking up to Reed’s bidding in order to get higher salaries,” he said.
Paul Browning, a spokesman for the Chancellor’s Office, stood in stark contrast to the frustrated protesters.
“This protest is counterproductive when it comes to what we want to do,” he said. Browning blamed the CFA and the CSUEU for denying proposed raises and said there was nothing to indicate any proposed hikes in tuition fees for students. “The trustees are doing everything they can do to get what they desire from the legislature,” he said.
David Ballard, CSUN professor and CFA representative, responded to the proposed pay-raise packages by dismissing them as a lie, and saying the language within the proposals was simply a standard line or “weasel language.”
“Fees are going up every year until students go away,” he said, citing economically disadvantaged students and teachers as victims of misguided management by the CSU.
Shannon Edwards, a theater professor from CSU Monterey Bay, showed her dissent in a unique fashion. Along with a skeleton’s mask, Edwards wore a graduation cap and gown and held a sign reading, “A Skeleton Crew – Worked to Death.”
Edwards said while she’s been working for a “deathly wage” two of her students have dropped out of her classes due to financial hardships.
“I’m afraid of a prospect of a strike this spring,” she said. “We need to move ahead and allow students to pursue their passions.”