Sean Chappell is an electrical engineering senior. The views expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints or editorial coverage of Mustang News.
Funny how in the last 10 years, the California State University (CSU) faculty (you know, the people teaching you) took a 10 percent pay cut, while spending on administrators has increased by almost 50 percent. Don’t worry though, that’s not the entire story. The entire story is actually worse.
A quick crash course for the uninitiated: Inflation is the “growth” of the number of dollars that things cost. A person with a dollar in 1980 could buy two loaves of bread; a person with a dollar today could maybe afford half a loaf. That’s the result of inflation.
Now let’s do a simple exercise in percentages. If we consider 2004 as our “starting” year, CSU faculty wages have increased a grand total of approximately 5 percent since then. If we do the same thing with inflation, we find that the cost of everything has increased more than 25 percent. What does this mean in real terms? CSU faculty have enjoyed a bountiful -16 percent (that’s negative 16 percent) change in their inflation-adjusted wages. In other words, they can buy 16 percent less than they could in 2004. Fancy that, the people on the front lines of fulfilling the entire purpose of a university have been pushed around like expendable cattle.
Now let’s talk about the people who seem to be doing pretty darn good for themselves, even with all this “great recession” and “budget cuts” nonsense. We’ll start at the top, and (I’m dumbfounded to find this) it’s not even CSU Chancellor Timothy White who gets paid the most in the CSU system. The highest-paid CSU employee is a director of the Green Music Center at Sonoma State, at — get this — almost $500,000 a year. Five hundred thousand! Following him in second place is the great Chancellor White coming in at $400,000. And also in the top 10 is … our very own Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong! All while some of our professors are literally having trouble paying their mortgage. How lovely.
Because “we millennials” sure love talking about the top “xx percent,” here’s something that’ll bust your nugget. The top 10 percent of earners in the CSU system right now — that’s the 4,741 highest paid employees — take home more than 36 percent of all wages. Should the top 10 percent really be taking more than a third of the pay? In a system that relies entirely on its instructors to fulfill its purpose (that is, teaching us) it seems a little unfair and uncouth to treat your teachers like dispensable burger flippers.
Private businesses don’t have any responsibility to pay their employees well or to have an equitable distribution of wages. The CSU system, however, is not a business. It’s also not private. It’s a state-run institution with the explicit purpose of providing high quality higher education. Imagine how much less often you’d run into “welp, the class is full, guess I can’t graduate on time lol!” if the CSU system, and Cal Poly in particular, spent money on teachers rather than desk jockeys.
I have a message for the folks at the top: Continue fighting this battle and you will absolutely succeed. You’ll chip away the pillars of salt you’ve built beneath yourselves by forcing out anyone who actually cared about teaching. You will drive the CSU system straight off a cliff, destroy its reputation and ensure that places like Cal Poly aren’t a first choice, or even a good choice. It won’t be long before you’ll start to hear: “if all else fails, I guess Cal Poly will accept me.”
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