Fumbling through furloughs
August 26, 2009 5:52 PM
Students, faculty and administrators at SF State are frustrated by the semester's furloughs and confused about when the campus will be open.
There are four fixed furlough days scheduled for this semester during which previously scheduled classes will be cancelled and all services on campus are suspended.
In addition, there are six furlough days scheduled on holidays during which services, usually available, will now be shut down.
"The start of the furlough days [was] Friday, August 14 and Monday, August 17," SF State President Robert Corrigan wrote in an e-mail to students. "Furloughs will occur throughout the year in response to the enormous budget cuts imposed on all California State University campuses by the governor and legislature."
The furlough days generally follow or precede holidays, resulting in a five-day Labor Day weekend as well as a weeklong Thanksgiving break.
In addition to scheduled furlough days, faculty must also take off 12 flexible furlough days per academic year. These unscheduled days off are being handled differently by individual teachers and departments. Some teachers may take their flex days during their scheduled classes and others may choose to spare their students and call one of their off-days as a flex furlough.
Journalism Department Chair Venise Wagner said the furloughs "are quite devastating" because teachers are getting more days off as well as not being paid for them.
"It's like trying to drive a car with a flat tire," Wagner said. "You can move, but you move slowly and with little control. While furloughs may be a necessary evil at the moment, they make it difficult for faculty to provide students with a full education."
Members of the faculty and administration are concerned about a decrease in the standard of education students receive due to the addition of the new furlough program.
"For our staff, every day's a work day," he said.
Students will feel the effects of furloughs as well.
Shawn Heiser is pursuing a master's in geography and he doesn't like the new furloughs.
"I'm an employee as well as a student," said Heiser, who works at the SF State Library.
Although his days on campus are limited by furloughs, he is also affected by the days he gets to work.
"It's horrible," Heiser said. "I can't afford a 10 percent pay cut."
Though this semester's schedule looks on-and-off, Heiser plans to make the most of his excess free time by working on his thesis.
"I'm going to work on my thesis," Heiser said. "Then try to work another job."
Furloughs affecting class will occur on September 4 and 8; October 23 and 26.
"Teachers will have the same furlough days as their students, but not all students will have the same furlough days," Wagner said.
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