CSU undergraduate students pay on average about $15,000 a year in tuition and fees. Many of our students can’t even afford food or a place to live, not to mention textbooks.
CSU Presidents make on average well over $400,000/year when housing benefits are included. Some attorneys and executives at the Chancellor’s office make more than university presidents. The Chancellor makes $625,000/year, which is more than the combined salary of President Biden ($400,000) and Governor Newsom ($210,000). Administrators have largely grown out of touch with the daily lives, concerns, and needs of students and faculty. They are working for themselves and their corporate welfare classmates, not for us and not for the common good.
The corrupt culture of corporate greed and legalistic voodoo has completely undermined higher education as a call to public service.
BLM happened and is still happening. Virtue signals and woke posturing abound daily from administrators, but have any substantive changes been made to CSU budgets? No.
To borrow a phrase from Ayanna Presley, “policy is my love language.” To take it one step further, for students, “policy and budgets are our love language.”
CSU’s University Libraries are sadly part of the problem, not the solution. The vast majority of our $40-50 million personnel budgets go to white people, and the majority of our $40-50 million acquisition budgets are given away to huge publisher monopolies owned by white people who make money off of taking away copyright from faculty authors and limiting access to scholarship. Companies like Elsevier make 37% profit margins, ten times more than Amazon or Walmart. University Libraries are the ones enabling this system of exploitation of students and taxpayers. All the while signing meager licenses (i.e., digital rental agreements), we are literally throwing away millions of dollars of books and journals that we have purchased, cataloged, and stored for decades when we could be digitizing them and allowing students and the general public to borrow them digitally.
CSU faculty and staff are currently being mandated to return to campus in summer during a lethal pandemic. No working from home to limit exposure, even for those whose jobs can be done 100% online. Even our most immunologically vulnerable are not being given exceptions.
Greed, gross mismanagement, inhumane policy and bargaining, and systemic racist allocation of public resources is the norm in the CSU.
Only students and faculty can change that by standing in solidarity and acting collectively and democratically.
Perhaps a good place to start would be to replace the governor appointed Board of Trustees with democratically elected faculty and students, who today hardly have a voice in these upper echelons of power and decision-making.
It should be remembered that the oldest universities in Europe ran with minimal administration, staff, and support. They were made up of faculty and students, and centered on free public lectures and books and articles distributed freely or cheaply. It was about knowledge, learning and relationships, not squeezing every last cent out of students to maintain over-bloated, top-heavy corporations. Students typically paid tuition directly to faculty, and this often came with room and board at faculty’s homes, and access to their personal libraries.
Perhaps in this digital world where mentoring and relationships are so vital, a return to simpler times and ways of doing things is just what the doctor ordered.