January 2010 Archives
When this article was first published on Jan. 29, 2010, [X]press misquoted SF State President Corrigan. In his speech to the University Budget Committee, he said "I am enormously pleased with the attitude of faculty, staff and students on this campus."
SF State President Robert Corrigan announced a 10 percent fee increase for the fall 2010 semester at a meeting of the University Budget Committee on Jan. 28, 2010.
Although fees will go up, Corrigan said there would not be an attempt to continue furloughs for next semester due to the governor's proposed budget which allocated $305 million back to the CSU system. Even with the raise in fees, SF State's proposed budget for next year shows a projected shortfall of roughly $18.7 million, due in part to decreased enrollment.
"It is not an exaggeration to say this is the most difficult time in the history of this institution," Corrigan said.
SF State's 2010-2011 budget projection did not include any of the university's share of the $305 million the governor had proposed to restore to the CSUs, which is estimated to be $18.5 million.
"At the worst, they cut us back to what we received this year and we receive no additional funds," said Vice President of Administration and Finance Leroy Morishita. Morishita explained that the university would not plan a budget with the assumption they are guaranteed funding.
Last November, the CSU Board of trustees voted on the 10 percent fee increase for fall. However, the board has so far been against a second 10 percent fee increase, which had been proposed on top of the already-agreed-upon raise in student fees.
"The board continues to resist any additional fee increase," Corrigan said, "it was very difficult to get the board to agree to the proposed 10 percent fee increase that has been written into the proposed budget."
In December 2005, the cost for a full-time class schedule was $1,564. This recent December, a full-time class schedule was $2,370. And now many students are upset and angry with an additional 10 percent.
"I think it's bullshit," said 20-year-old, international student and International Business major Matteo Lupini. "I'm paying so much ... because of my student visa I'm not allowed to work outside of campus and I couldn't get a job on campus. It's hard, I've no spending money."
"Don't we already pay more tuition," said Ryan Erfe, an 18-year-old undeclared freshman. "They can't keep raising it higher and higher."
But even with fee increases, other possible solutions for balancing the budget are still costly to students. "The problem is still we don't have enough money," Morishita said. "If we revise this shortfall, it is still that we will not have restored our budget to what it was a year ago."
The committee discussed the benefits of attempting to institute a half furlough program, using a mandated 12 days over the course of the year rather than the existing 24. Currently the proposed budget does not include any furloughs for faculty and staff.
Other ideas raised included having students pay on a per unit basis and of the creation of a third tier to the tuition system. This tier would require students to pay higher tuition if taking more than 16 units during a semester. Charging a higher tuition for students whose studies have lasted beyond the traditional four years was also an idea.
"There is a lot of discussion going around on how can we do that," remarked Morishita at the idea of a separate tuition price. "But I'm not saying it will be done in time for this fiscal year."
Similar to last year there will be no hiring of new faculty this year, according to Corrigan, but the University will attempt to fill some vacated non-academic positions.
In the face of these financial difficulties, Corrigan acknowledged how supportive everyone on campus has been, explaining that he has not received "a single letter or a single phone call from an employee to complain about the loss of income due to the furlough program.
"I am enormously pleased with the attitude of faculty and students on this campus," he said, "they have been put under enormous pressures."
SF State housing officials are offering to reimburse the $55 housing application fee for students who move into on-campus housing, in order to fill the vacant spots that remain as the semester gets underway.
As of Jan. 29, on-campus housing is 90 percent full, which is lower than most previous semesters, according to Philippe Cumia, associate director of SF State Housing. Cumia wrote that, although it is common for there to be less housing demanded in the spring semesters than the fall, there is even less demand this spring because of the university's policy that no new students be admitted this semester.
Housing officials are offering to use the $55 application fee to pay the next scheduled fee payment for students who move in before April 30, in hopes of filling the empty housing.
"On-campus housing occupancy tends to fluctuate based on the University's enrollment," Cumia wrote in an email. "Part of our promotional campaign includes waving the $55 application fee to encourage students who are thinking of moving on campus right now."
On-campus housing for this semester costs between $9,152 and $14,368, according to the SF State housing website. Vacant rooms can have a negative effect on the housing budget, which is why an incentive is being offered to new residents, according to Cumia.
Brian Rose, an 19-year-old Mary Park Hall resident, said last semester he saw many double-occupancy rooms with only one occupant and some completely empty rooms. And when students moved out, it took a while to fill the rooms again.
"When someone moves out there will be a empty room for like two months," he said. "It's just the school functioning too slowly."
Many students are more accustomed to waiting for housing instead of applying for vacant rooms.
Courtney Freitas, an 18-year-old Mary Park Hall resident, said she was able to get into on-campus housing last semester but many of her friends had to move to Park Merced because they were stuck on the wait list.
"It [housing] was easy for me because I took care of it quickly," she said. "I immediately applied but I know there ended up being a really long wait list."
Living on campus provides students with the opportunity to meet new people, cuts down on transportation costs and time, and offers meal plans and other services unavailable to students who live off campus. "We are encouraging students to move on campus because it is a more valuable experience than living off-campus," Cumia wrote.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed amendment in which General Fund spending caps would be imposed on state prisons and public universities should be rejected, according to a brief from the Legislative Analyst's Office.
On Jan. 6, 2010, Schwarzenegger proposed a state constitutional amendment that would require the General Fund to dedicate no more than 7 percent of state spending to corrections and no less than 10 percent to the California State University and University of California systems. Although this is intended to boost funding for higher education, many believe that limiting state funding could cause more bad than good.
"I think the last thing California needs are more restrictions on the budgetary process," said Betty Blecha, professor of Economics at SF State. "The forecasts of economic recovery say that California is the slowest and institutional failure is the basis of these findings."
Legislative analyst Mac Taylor agrees with Blecha. Should any savings be insufficient to help universities reach their 10 percent share by 2014-15, the legislature would be required to apply funds going to other state departments and possibly new tax revenues. In a policy brief evaluating Schwarzenegger's plan, Taylor wrote that constraining the state's ability to allocate funding where it is most needed could put a larger financial strain on those areas--such as social services, health care and infrastructure.
"Californians, since Proposition 13, seem to think they can constantly cut taxes and maintain the quality of our institutions," Blecha said. "That's a myth and no state official has been willing to call it for what it is."
The amendment would require that any savings achieved in corrections spending to be used to augment spending on the CSU and UC systems beginning in 2011-12. But it is unclear that this money would make higher education more accessible. The plan does not factor in student fees or include community colleges.
Many believe that there are other ways to help higher education funding. "There are ways around it - not adding money, but controlling the budget," said Mike Prisco, 25, a Humanities major at SF State. "There are many administrative jobs that get paid a lot. I know that the president here is getting paid half a million - who needs that much money?"
On the other hand, capping spending on state prisons could be just as harmful. According to Taylor, the plan does not take the prison system's cost pressures into account. Prison costs go up when there are more inmates, which can depend on sentencing.
The state can clean up its expenditures on corrections facilities by reducing the prison population, said Elizabeth Brown, assistant professor of Criminal Justice at SF State. "It can let out first-time violent offenders, repeal the three strikes law, and increase employment opportunities," she added.
Although spending on higher education and prisons has inverted over the past 30 years, correcting the problem is not as simple as reversing the figures.
"Politics is always a substitute for one set of problems for another," said Casey Robbins, a 19-year-old Theater major at SF State. "We have to strip the rights away from people who need the resources, but that's the American way of life and that's where the problem is."
President Obama told Congress and the American people Wednesday night that education reform is critical to the growth of the nation, but in his first State of the Union address the spotlight remained on the economy and job growth.
In a speech that ran over one hour, Obama mentioned the need for improved education amidst rhetoric that centered largely on getting the nation out of debt and reducing the unemployment rate.
"The idea here is simple: instead of rewarding failure, we only reward success. Instead of funding the status quo, we only invest in reform," Obama said before a joint session of Congress, "Reform that raises student achievement, inspires students to excel in math and science, and turns around failing schools that steal the future of too many young Americans, from rural communities to inner-cities."
"In the 21st century," Obama said, "one of the best anti-poverty programs is a world-class education."
Obama did not offer many specifics in his speech toward addressing the problems of the education system, but did say that he wanted a $10,000 tax credit for families to send their children to college.
The President also said that the stimulus package saved 300,000 education jobs and that he favored forgiving student loan debt to graduates after 20 years.
Obama said that he and members of Congress "face a deficit of trust," in a speech that at times seemed to tap into the populist anger over bank bailouts, financial firm bonuses, and the slow recovery of the economy.
Obama addressed what he called the cynicism of TV punditry and the divisiveness of partisan politics, but said that fixing the problems this country faces would not come without a struggle.
"Our most urgent task upon taking office was to shore up the same banks that helped cause this crisis. It was not easy to do. And if there's one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans, it's that we all hated the bank bailout. I hated it. You hated it." Obama said. He added that unemployment might be double what it is today if the government hadn't rescued the financial system.
Obama also sought to reiterate the need for health care reform, despite the weakened position that Democrats are in from losing the Massachusetts Senate seat once held by the late Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy to Republican Scott Brown.
The President said that the need for health care reform will not go away, but conceded at least some of the blame for "not explaining it more clearly to the American people."
"The approach we've taken would protect every American from the worst practices of the insurance industry. It would give small businesses and uninsured Americans a chance to choose an affordable health care plan in a competitive market," Obama said.
The speech was wide ranging and covered many topics, yet woven into the transitions he always came back to the economy, jobs, or the growing deficit.
Obama also renewed his promise to remove combat troops from Iraq by this August and to finish the war in Afghanistan.
"We will support the Iraqi government as they hold elections, and continue to partner with the Iraqi people to promote regional peace and prosperity." Obama said, "But make no mistake: this war is ending, and all of our troops are coming home."
At 12 p.m. on the second day of school, organizers from Students, Faculty and Staff United gathered in front of the Administration Building to defend the activists who were arrested during the Business building lockdown last Dec. 9 and to promote the campus walk-out on Feb. 11 and statewide strike on March 4.
Aaron Salazar, a member of SFSUnited, said that the media missed vital information about the lockdown last year: activists were not only fighting against budget cuts and fee hikes.
"What got lost in the media was that the protest was also an anti-war and anti-capitalism demonstration," he said. Fee hikes would not happen if it weren't for budget cuts and budget cuts would not happen if it weren't for the war, according to Salazar.
Handmade signs that read "Make the bosses take the losses!" and "Cuts Hurt!" were held high by the organizers, while the rest of them gave out flyers for the rallies on Feb. 11 and March 4. They took turns screaming into the bullhorn, "When students are under attack, what do you do? Stand up and fight back!"
The Feb. 11 walk-out starts at noon at Malcolm X Plaza.
"After this, there will be a meeting with organizers from the 1968 strike," Canada College instructor and SF State alumni Daniella Maher said. Maher's classes were cut this semester and according to her, Canada College isn't as active about these issues as SF State, so she came over to her alma mater to fight off faculty cuts.
Among the organizers going to the meeting are Clarence Thomas, a member of the Black Student Union and a leader of the 1968 campus strike and Todd Chretien, a longtime SF State campus activist.
On March 4th there will be a statewide day of action that involves the UCs, CSUs, and community colleges all over California. "Campuses will have their own rallies and at the same time, SF State will have one as well," Maher said. "It's all going to be local."
Musicians and Oakland residents acknowledged that battles for equality still exist, even as they celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2010.
"I hate to say that I think his message will probably always be relevant," Stacey Hoffman said. "There is an extreme amount of hatred in the world."
Hoffman is the producer for the event "In the Name of Love"--a musical tribute to the nonviolent civil rights activist. Local and national musicians travelled to the Scottish Rite Center in Oakland, Calif. to honor King's memory with jazzy rhythms. While the theater echoed with joyous songs of hope, many performers realized that (even with the first African American president) there it is still a long journey to the equality that King preached.
"Everybody says that Obama is Martin Luther incarnated," Jamilah Parker laughed. "But every day it is apparent that racism still exists."
Parker is a new member of the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir that performed the closing set for "In the Name of Love." For many of its members, including Parker, the choir represents the same ideas of togetherness that King advocated. The choir, under the direction of Terrance Kelly, is non-denominational.
"Some people want to sing gospel, but don't want to change faiths to do it," Kelly said. "So we accept everyone."
Kelly remembers his parents crying at King's speeches, himself not fully aware of their impact as a young child. Now, 40 years after King was shot on the second floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., Kelly is still moved by King's vision of peace. And to him, music is the perfect way to honor the man's memory.
"Through our roots in African culture, where everything is sung, danced or beat out in a drum, it has become part of American culture," Kelly said. "And so it entirely appropriate to celebrate him with song."
And even while prejudice still veers its head, Brian Copeland, entertainer and emcee for the evening, recognized the distance we've traveled since King's time. "I realized I didn't know all the words to 'We Shall Overcome,'" Copeland said to the audience. "That's when I understood. I don't know all the words, because Dr. King made it so I wouldn't have to."
The night ended with the performers and audience members holding hands as they sang. "Music cuts across barrier," Hoffman said. "King understood how it brought the people from suffering to joy."
The Craigslist personal ad would read:
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*Reference to Aaliyah."
Ed Luce, artist and creator of Wuvable Oaf, illustrates the life adventures of a guy misunderstood by a community that lusts after him, yet untaken by the advances of those who want a persona of someone he is not. Oaf is a guy with a heart who is looking for love and a companion to share it with - a Prince to his Apollonia or a Sid to his Nancy.
Wuvable Oaf is a comic book experience that guides the reader in a different direction sideways from violence, gore, and a battle of good versus evil, but rather a character's funny search for love in a city that looks like San Francisco, yet could be any city.
Check out the Oaf at: http://www.wuvableoaf.com
Wuvable Oaf is sold at:
Goteblüd, located at 766 Valencia Street, in San Francisco
Isotope Comics, located at 326 Fell Street in San Francisco