Student leaders speak out against executive pay raises


Board of directors from all CSUs showed up at the CSSA plenary meeting, Sunday, to discuss the upcoming year. Photo credit: Josh Cozine

Jared Geiser stood outside the BMU auditorium, speaking bluntly with the Chair of Community and Government Relations for CSU Northridge, Tracy Johnson.

“I’ve got hungry students here to think about,” Geiser said. Geiser serves as Chico State’s Executive Vice President for the Associated Students.

“I hear you,” Johnson responded, “I’m glad someone said something.”

The two continued to speak on issues of food and housing insecurity Sunday morning, just outside the auditorium doors where members of The Cal State Student Association(CSSA) met up for their monthly plenary meeting, hosted this time at Chico State. Geiser briefly addressed student leaders from the 23 California State University campuses that make up the CSSA during a time for public discussion at the Board of Directors meeting. There he shared his views about giving raises to administrators while students see increasing costs.

“Students don’t have enough money in their pockets to pay for housing,” Geiser said to a reporter from The Orion after his address.

“When we’re talking about increasing the salary of the president: I think if there is money to do that, then there should be money to go back to the students,” he said.

He attributed the increase of students struggling to find meals and housing with the constantly increasing cost of tuition and student fees over the last 15 to 20 years. Geiser cites estimates that as many as one in four Chico State students go hungry, while another 46 percent of students have difficulty affording food and one in every 12 students lives in unstable housing situations.

Over the summer, the California State University Board of Trustees voted in favor of an executive compensation policy―a 3 percent salary raise for CSU presidents, among other raises―while many Chico State students face food and housing insecurity. Geiser said the increased salary would cost the CSU system an additional $1 million to $2.5 million if implemented.

“The Board of Trustees should not be the priority of the CSUC system,” Geiser said.

Ariadna Manzo, the president of the Associated Students at San Jose State, also spoke on concerns about students knowledge and understanding of the policy, especially student leaders working on the CSSA Board of Directors.

“I don’t feel like the entire board can have a full-on discussion on what each policy is,” Manzo said. “We’re not able to educate the student body because there’s no resource online (where) we can find that information.”

Geiser also said he was concerned that not enough information has been released.

“There is really not enough information being put out by the Board of Trustees,” Geiser said, “they’re not giving it to us, so we don’t even know what those policies are.”

Emily Hinton, a member of the CSU Board of Trustees, also talked with The Orion outside the auditorium while the meeting continued, and explained further.

“Campus president (salary) increases can’t be paid for with tuition, it has to be paid for with state funds,” Hinton said. “If we didn’t receive those state funds, the three percent increase would’ve happened. That was planned and budgeted for a year ago.”

She also talked about the reasoning behind this policy.

“It’s important that we have a policy in place so we don’t have random percentages every year,” Hinton said. “Their reasoning behind it is to keep up with the cost of living.”

“I feel very differently on that reasoning though,” she said.

Geiser shared this viewpoint.

“If there is enough money to give the presidents a salary increase―who are already making $300,000 or more a year―then there should be more money that the students should be able to retain and keep in their pockets,” Geiser said.

He also spoke on the recent state allotment for the CSU system being higher than expected, and using some of the funds to increase executive pay.

“You have the Board of Trustees yelling at the state for not fully funding the CSU, and when they get the CSU as much money as it asked for, who do they (give funds) to first?”

Josh Cozine, Dan Christian and Justin Jackson can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.