Video by Michelle Logan
and words by Tara Kaveh
On Thursday morning, students, faculty, staff and community members gathered in front of the administration building to rally and deliver petitions to Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong.
The rally circled around the front of Administration (building 1) for a full hour, packed with students, faculty and staff holding signs, blowing whistles and chanting. Some even wore red masks to avoid being identified.
Signs saying “Money for managers, promises for profs!” and “The mustang has lost its way!” pointed to the concerns surrounding faculty pay and administrative bloating.
“Maybe we can see some positive change,” said Glen Thorncroft, former president of the California Faculty Association (CFA) San Luis Obipso Chapter and mechanical engineering professor. “The priorities of the administration seem to have gone away from where the faculty and students want it to go, and we don’t understand why.”
Faculty and staff have spoken up in listening sessions with Armstrong about their concerns for the past few months.
“I’m not sure if the listening has turned into action,” Thorncraft said. “We could call this a friendly intervention.”
The main concerns surround the increase in administrative positions and salary while faculty salaries remain stagnant. Though Armstrong and administration recently allocated $2.5 million to raise staff and faculty pay, the petition created by the CFA San Luis Obispo Chapter says this is nowhere near sufficient to make any inroads into salary stagnation and inversion.
Much of the frustration lies in the inequities of pay for lecturers, coaches, counselors and long-serving tenured faculty whose salaries have seen little increase.
“For the last seven years, faculty have seen virtually no increase in salary, and so there’s a huge disparity,” Graham Archer, current president of the CFA San Luis Obispo Chapter and architectural engineering professor said. “What we want is the table to turn. We want the bloat to diminish and we want our salaries to rise.”
The petition, proposed by faculty and staff of the CFA, directly addresses Armstrong in three calls to action:
- Put an immediate moratorium on the total amount paid to administrators
- March the total of all administration salaries back to the 2010 level in the next three years
- Tie future increases in the total of all administration salaries to increases in the total amount of faculty salaries
Not only did some faculty cancel class in order to attend the event, but many students joined in as well. Student concerns involved the effects low faculty salaries ultimately have on student success.
“Faculty morale being low, that totally affects students,” industrial engineering freshman Matt Klepfer said. “Especially with the number of lecturers and the lack of full-time faculty. I was shocked, I didn’t expect that at an institution like this.”
Some students were concerned about access to classes.
“Yesterday was the first day of priority and two of the classes that I really needed to get were already full. So now I’m off track for graduation,” Isamar Hernandez, an agricultural communications sophomore said. “It’s just ridiculous that these administrators keep getting raises and not enough money is being put back into our actual education.”
A significant amount of students from the College of Agriculture, food and Environmental Sciences came out in support of faculty pay increases as well as to represent their own cause, calling themselves “The Students for Agriculture.” The group is concerned about the possibility of current agricultural lands being used as sites for new construction as part of the the school’s master plan update.
The students are currently working on a petition and website to explain their cause. The group created a Facebook page, gaining over 280 likes in one day.
“All of the croplands, orchards, the arboretum — they’re all learning environments that we can’t just replicate,” crop science and horticulture senior Cody Wallace said.
The group has set up a meeting open to all students with the Dean of the College of Agriculture to express their input on Wednesday at 11 a.m.
Though the concerns about the master plan are a separate issue, both causes have one thing in common: the belief of investing in what Cal Poly already has and developing it.
“It’s absolutely huge — being able to protect what we have right now,” Wallace said.