Dear Board of Trustees, please stop approving raises for administrators

Rayanne Painter

Only so much can be taken from us until we have nothing left.

We are students, most of us with a full-time class load. Many of us have a job, maybe two or even three of them. We have families at home who might need our financial help or are unable to help us out when we are struggling. Rent takes hundreds of dollars out of our bank accounts every month and stacks on top of the debt that many are accumulating. Some students can’t even afford a home at all. Some of us go to sleep hungry, wake up hungry and go to class hungry. We are the students of the California State University system.

Despite all of this and more, the CSU Board of Trustees approved a salary increase for 22 out of 23 CSU presidents over the summer. This approval can be found on page 35 of the July 24 CSU Board of Trustees agenda minutes. The average CSU president already makes above $300,000 a year, as stated by the California Faculty Association (CFA) in 2015 when comparing president and faculty member salary raises. This salary is by far too large for a single person, especially when the CSU system has so many struggling students and especially while the average CSU faculty member makes significantly less a year at $45,000, according to CFA.

Many Chico State students weren’t aware of this raise over the summer. During a plenary meeting for the Cal State Student Association (CSSA) on Sept. 24, Chico State students and faculty were furious over these approved raises over summer. Gayle Hutchinson along with most CSU presidents received a 3 percent raise that’s now essentially a standard year in and year out. Meanwhile, many CSU students across the state are struggling just to supplement their basic living needs.

Their frustration is rightly justified. CSU tuition rates are constantly increasing and are only stopped or postponed by students lobbying at California capitol’s doorstep. Additionally, President Hutchinson approved fee increases last semester despite a majority of student voters opposing the increases. While these increases are staggered, they still deeply impact low-income students.

And even if tuition and fee increases are due to a lack of state funding for CSU campuses, how can the Board of Trustees expect students to just sit back and watch CSU executives continue to make hundreds of thousands of dollars? Even if the hiring market for administrators calls for them to make an exorbitant amount of money, does that make it right?

Chico State students deserve better than this. I see my colleagues around me struggle every day just to scrape up the change for a fast food dollar menu item. In one of my classes, my professor took a book off the required reading list because nearly the whole class couldn’t afford a textbook valued at $70. Students are homeless, students are in debt and students drop out of school because there just isn’t enough money to support their educational dreams.

All of this makes me wonder how much CSU Board of Trustees members truly care about the students they are supposed to serve. And why should they? They seem to not see our struggles, probably because they haven’t felt much of it themselves.

Although more executive pay raises, tuition increases and fee increases likely lie on the horizon, our voices are not lost. Take a stand against these injustices to CSU students and faculty by using your voice and attending meetings pertaining to these topics. Stay involved in Associated Students and Students for Quality Education meetings on campus. Be sure to learn about the $2 Student Involvement & Representation Fee that you pay every semester and how this fee helps CSSA members like Emily Hinton represent and fight for your rights as a student.

*Alex Grant also contributed to this article.*

Rayanne Painter and Alex Grant can be reached at [email protected] or @rayphenomenon and @AlexThomasGrant on Twitter.