CSUN Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Harry Hellenbrand spoke out on faculty negotiations at the Associated Students Senate meeting Tuesday at the University Student Union’s Grand Salon.
Hellenbrand’s presentation addressed the struggles between the California Faculty Association and the California State University system, and was given to further inform members of A.S. – some of whom, including President Adam Salgado, work with legislators in Sacramento periodically regarding student fees and issues affecting CSUN students.
Hellenbrand welcomed questions from the senators and cabinet, but students in the gallery were prohibited from questioning the provost.
Hellenbrand started his presentation by reviewing the history of the situation, explaining that “the CFA and CSU have been trying to reach a settlement for some time now” – almost two years to be exact.
“I think we’ve been fortunate (in our interactions) with the CFA on this campus,” he said.
While he admitted that he does represent the CSUN administration, he said he can understand the positions of both sides, and explained how student fees and programs could be affected by the ongoing negotiations.
He said he hoped that the two sides could reach a settlement soon, adding that “if you look at all the issues, you have to look at what the CFA has on their hands and what the CSU has on their hands, and then they can settle.”
The senators primarily asked questions about the proposed 10 percent student fee increase, and how that could relate to the CFA-CSU negotiations.
“I think if the fee increase does not go through, cuts in programs” would likely be the result, Hellenbrand said.
The Senate also focused on finance recommendations – most notably an allocation to Violent Acts Grounded for two proposed events.
VAG is orchestrating two events – the Clothesline Project and the Take Back the Night rally – which will both occur in March, which is Women’s History Month. The group had already been allocated $1,700 in the annual budget for these events, A.S. Director of Finance Adam Haverstock said.
“It’s an opportunity for women ? to go up on stage and talk about their experience, and you don’t get a chance to do that anywhere else,” Senator Norma Aceves said in regard to the Take Back the Night rally.
Newly inaugurated Attorney General Pablo Murillo echoed the sentiment, explaining that with recent funds, allocating extra money could be a wise decision.
“Considering the excess enrollment that came in this semester, it won’t be much of a (drain) on our budget,” he said.
The finance committee recommended $1,965 from the Unallocated Reserves Account for these two events, but renewed support from both students during Open Forum and senators convinced the Senate to increase this amount. Aceves made a motion that the amount be increased to $2,700, which was seconded by Senator Igor Kagan and was passed by the Senate.
The Senate also passed a finance recommendation that would send a CSUN student to the upcoming College Arts Association National Conference.
About an hour before the Senate meeting began, the A.S. cabinet, senators and members of the campus community gathered in the Grand Salon to inaugurate four senators – Jessper Maquindang (At Large I), Chante Felix (Science and Math II), Nia Bluitt (Upper Division II) and Oliver Akamnonu (Science and Math I). During the ceremony, Murillo was also inaugurated in his new role of attorney general.
Campus leaders, including President Jolene Koester and Vice President of Student Affairs William Watkins, were on hand to give speeches of their own, most of which centered on the need for collaboration between students and the administration, and between students and A.S.
“This is one of the two symbolic starting days (for A.S.),” said General Manager David Crandall.
In keeping with this idea, Salgado revealed what will be his main priorities for this semester.
He plans to continue with the Senate’s instant-messaging academic advisement system, as well as work on increasing school spirit, which will be helped by periodic Red Rallies and other spirit-oriented activities this spring.
Two more goals were focused on student clubs and organizations.
One priority is to continue with the idea of an intercultural council, which is designed to incorporate clubs more into the decision-making process on the financial side of A.S., thereby giving the club leaders more autonomy. In a meeting held between A.S. and club members in December 2006, organization leaders voiced their opinions on the council, and the Senate will take these ideas into account in the implementation of the intercultural council.
Salgado and the Senate will also work with the Matador Involvement Center to make sure that clubs do not die out once the school year ends.