Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I might be the worst lab partner ever...

Dear Fellow Econ Student Who Sat Next to Me During Lab Today,

            I didn’t mean to ruin your day I swear! Who knew that you offering me a butterscotch would strike up such a conversation? Who was to know that the question “Why would students strike?” would have such a long answer? But of course, you just met me so why would you think you were slowly pulling the trigger that holds my tongue back…
            As you said “It’s hard to ruin today, I just got my financial aid!” Always great news to any student of course, now we can finally eat something other than ramen noodles and 98 cent store knock off mac and cheese and finally pay that past due electricity bill. Of course it’s upsetting information, especially if you have never heard it before. I’m so sorry to be the bearer of bad news on this holy day and make you think about how fucked up it is for the rest of class, but in all fairness you persisted to know more about it.
            So what did I tell you that got you all worked up my new econ friend? Information about our quest for quality education. Which just so happened to be a quest you were unaware of. We rally, protest, petition, walk out, sit in, lobby, letter, present, flyer, march, document, demonstrate and fight non violently for our humyn right to a quality, affordable public education.  I just told you some basic info about what we students who stand for quality education do; educate students about the fee increases, budget cuts and of course, the REAL reasons our fees and tuition keep going up.
            “Oh yeah and what is that now?” you asked like any self-respecting student would. BIG MISTAKE! You just pulled the trigger on my mouth (again so very sorry for ruining your day)! I was only able to start off with the explanation of a two part problem: state funding decreasing and mismanagement of the funds that we actually do get.

            Of course we are in the “Great Recession” and there has to be cuts some where but where do the State’s priorities lie if higher public education is the first thing on the chopping block. Obviously, if we have reduced revenue to the state there needs to be an alternate source of revenue to public education, either through the reallocation of preexisting funding or by establishing new funding. What happened to all the funds Prop 37 (CA State Lottery Act passed in 1984) that was supposed to provide. 34 percent of it’s funding to go to higher education but now also represents a declining fund to higher education with only 1 percent going to the California State University system in 2005 to 2006. Or what about Professor Gary Rhoades of Arizona’s Center for the Study of Higher Public Education’s preposition that the administrators, faculty and students actually work together to get grants from the state (really paraphrased!) which he discussed when he visited CSUSB to support the campus faculty. (See full one of his full lectures about it here)

            Then we got to talking about how things are being mismanaged by the Board of Trustees (BOT)…this seemed to make you the most upset. I told you that its not just that we are getting less money to spend but the little funding that we do get is being mismanaged with increasing allocation to administration compensation. You weren’t really surprised to know about the percentage that our student fees have gone up in the CSU system since Chancellor Reed came in during 1998. This is because you are no dummy and have seen things go up and up and up and that financial aid we are all so happy about isn’t going at all as far as it used to last quarter (financial aid does not adjust for fee or tuition increases). In the 13 years that Reed has been appointed, our fees have gone up 263 percent (That is just the numbers until 2011; a student fee increase has been passed by the BOT to increase another 9 percent in the Fall 2012!!!).
             But what did surprise you was the percent of funding that administration compensation has increased… 71 percent increase! This means that $6 million of our student money went to being spent on raises for 550 administrators.  Administrators have gone from making $1,890 a week to making $6,422 a week; this doesn’t reflect the $50,000 to $60,000 or provided housing that executives get for living expenses ( That number also doesn’t reflect the entertainment expenses and car allowances that the executives receive. Executive compensation has come under much criticism because of this and yet they say they don’t have enough money to pay our faculty to keep the 10,000 courses we have lost state wide from 2008 to 2010 alone.
            If the argument of ridiculously high executive compensation being awarded during this “Great Recession” wasn’t the thing that upset you may be it was the fact that the BOT only spent 35 percent of its operating expenses toward “directly supporting the primary mission of the university, which is instruction” in the 2009 -2010 school year, even through it has $2 billion is reserves. Faculty salaries have only increased 27 percent while inflation has gone up 43 percent, which basically means that not only are they getting paid poorly (In the 13 years Reed has been in office, faculty has gone from making $1,223 to $1,499. Feel free to compare that to the administration’s weekly salary above…) but the value of a dollar is going lower and lower so the little money they make goes about half as far as it used to.

            That was about when the professor came in and you said that I had ruined your day and depressed you. You also went on to say you were totally joking about me ruining your day so that made me happy. Man, I felt really bad at first! And who knows, tomorrow is a new day and I just be able to really ruin your day when I finish telling you some more about our student issues at the CSU level.

            Before we all shut down the computers and left the class, you said that you were really happy to know that there were people who are fighting for all of us students and that you were happy to know that you had your eyes open to these issues which can’t be ignored. Rest easy econ butterscotch person…we have your back…


1 comment:

  1. Wow! You certainly know what you are talking about!!! To think I was a happy student---now I really need mas butterscotch---minus the butter!!!
    I look forward to more of your insights---stay strong Commander Brownie--you fight for us all!