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The Orion

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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Bagpipes and bold voices: CFA Chico chapter rally on campus 

The California Faculty Association Chico chapter hosted a march than ended in front of Kendall Hall
People+march+during+California+Faculty+Association+Chico+chapter%E2%80%99s+march+on+Wednesday.+Taken+by+Ariana+Powell+on+Oct.+18.
People march during California Faculty Association Chico chapter’s march on Wednesday. Taken by Ariana Powell on Oct. 18.

A band of bagpipers played during the California Faculty Association Chico chapter’s “Death of Higher Education” funeral march on Wednesday afternoon.

Around 30 marchers — including CFA representatives, other union members, faculty members and students — gathered to protest the tuition raise and bring awareness to the possibility of a faculty strike.

Before the march, CFA members, such as Timothy Sistrunk, Chico chapter president and Chico State professor, and Aubrey Raney, a Chico State Students for Quality Education representative, tabled near the science building.

Free CFA strike t-shirts lay waiting to be picked up during the California Faculty Association tabling session prior to the march. Taken by Ariana Powell on Oct. 18.

The red-clothed table stood in front of a shaded wall of the science building. A collapsible coffin sat in front of the table full of free “I don’t want to, but I will strike” CFA t-shirts and fake blue and black roses.

A stack of half-blank California Faculty Association posters sit barely touched on the red-clothed table. Taken by Ariana Powell on Oct. 18.

There was also an orange bowl full of candy next to the white, half-empty signs prepared to be personalized and displayed once the march began at noon.

Prior to the march, multiple campus community members gathered near the table.

David Teja sits with his prepared sign near the California Faculty Association table prior to the march. Taken by Ariana Powell on Oct. 18.

David Teja, a Chico State supervisor and lecturer, was one of the first faculty members to congregate near the science building, as well as the first poster maker.

Teja said he hoped the march turnout would be large because awareness of the potential strike and tuition increase needs to be spread.

Chico State’s Students for Quality Education intern, Aubrey Raney, also shared similar sentiments.

“Hopefully awareness will build solidarity between faculty and students,” Raney said. “Especially since it seems like the faculty and students are being pitted against each other.”

Sistrunk was hopeful administrators and Chico State President Steve Perez would be at the march, but none were.

The bagpipe band marches toward the California Faculty Association near the science building. Taken by Ariana Powell on Oct. 18.

Around 11:30 a.m., the bagpipe band, led by Robin Averbeck, Chico State lecturer and CFA Chico chapter membership chair, marched through the Gauntlet to the table.

More students flocked to the area, including Bailey Ham and Petra Casillas, who wanted to support their faculty who “are handling so much even though there are issues, we want to help with all that,” the two students said.

Left to right, Fen Halstead and Trysta Seale, look up ideas for their posters prior to the California Faculty Association march. Taken by Ariana Powell on Oct. 18.

Student protest organizer Trysta Seale and her friend Fen Halstead were also at the march.

Robin Averbeck gets marchers’ attention. Taken by Ariana Powell on Oct. 18.

Seale said she wanted to support the faculty members but also attended to see what she could incorporate into her protest, which has been postponed to Nov. 15, originally set for Oct. 25.

Marchers take their first steps during the CFA march. Taken by Ariana Powell on Oct. 18.

Shortly before noon, Averbeck gathered the bagpipers and passed out decorated posters and fake roses. 

“Let’s go!” was the calling card for the march to commence. Averbeck led the march with her bloody-handprint-adorned, “public education” tombstone sign, followed by two faculty member pallbearers carrying the collapsible casket.

As the column-shaped march forged a path from the science building to Kendall Hall, onlookers could be heard cheering with their phones capturing the unique scene.

The California Faculty Association march ends at Kendall Hall before the speeches commence. Taken by Ariana Powell on Oct. 18.

Once the group arrived at Kendall Hall, the column fanned into a circle, Kendall Hall’s “Today Decides Tomorrow” sign acting as a physical and thematic backdrop. Sistrunk took the lead and was the first speaker at the event.

Chico State professor Michael Coyle, stepped up and introduced what would end up being the rallying cry: “What do we want? Justice! What do we want? Fairness!” 

Coyle spoke on the origins of schools like Chico State as an affordable solution that served the public:

The CSU started with a vision. This thing we call the campus, the school. The vision was students paid zero money to go here. Faculty got a living wage. Administration was something some people did, few of them, to do the management because most of us are doing the work!  

 

Multiple other faculty members, such as Averbeck and kinesiology education professor Cathrine Himberg spoke out.

Himberg was impassioned regarding the current CSU salary standards. She said she’s taught students who become teachers and get paid more than she and her faculty peers do.

Her husband, retired Chico State media arts professor John Roussell, also stepped into the middle of the circle to discuss the history of salary, workload and overall contract issues with CSU management. 

He brought up a time years prior when there was going to be a teachers’ strike. As he described, the administration sent an email to the students with the message that the admin wasn’t going to desert them like the teachers were. 

Roussell suggested that students email their lesson plans to the administration so that when the teachers strike, the admin can pick up the slack. 

“Then when the teachers strike, the administration can be the ones to teach. Remember one thing: Without the students, without the staff, and without the faculty, this is a playground is all it is,” Roussell said.

A Chico State faculty member steps forward to discuss her previous struggles surrounding a lack of maternity leave. Taken by Ariana Powell on Oct. 18.

Another faculty member stepped forward to discuss her past struggles with maternity leave, something the CFA is fighting to extend:

I’ve had two kids living here, and neither time was I eligible for parental leave. I’ve seen that the university is very judicious about how it doles things out. But parental leave for our colleagues, for our future students is absolutely something worth fighting for. So everybody vote yes, we are willing to strike, not to accept the feeble offer we have received so far. 

Students also spoke out, the first two being Hanna Doyle and Lewis Heredia.

Hanna Doyle, a biology student, spoke passionately about her experience with the lack of funding from campus administration: 

I’ve noticed that there is almost zero support for a lot of my lecturers. I’ve had some great teachers, and a lot of the stuff that we’ve done has been because of their initiative: They spent their time and their money to take us on unique lab experiences or go do different projects with us. 

Seale stepped forward with tears in her eyes as she described how the tuition raise has impacted her life and future at Chico State.

Chico State free speech advocates and facilitators were present before and during the march. Andrew Staples, Chico State’s public relations manager, said they were there to observe and ensure things went smoothly.

He also stated Perez is extremely supportive of free speech rights.

“I support our employees and students advocating for what they believe in. Though the event took place in front of Kendall Hall, it is important to remember this is not an issue specific to Chico State,” Perez said “The CFA is a systemwide union negotiating with the CSU Chancellor’s Office. We are observing and hope the two sides can come to an acceptable and fair agreement.”

A faculty member holds up a sign for the rally. Taken by Kit Beauchamp on Oct. 18.

The CFA is currently in a fact-finding session with California State University management. The union will be voting on whether or not to strike starting Saturday and ending Oct. 27.

For more information on the strike authorization vote, go here.

Kit Beauchamp can be reached at [email protected].

Ariana Powell can also be reached at [email protected], as well as [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Ariana Powell
Ariana Powell, Editor-in-Chief
Ariana Powell is in her fourth year at Chico State as a media arts (criticism) and journalism (news) double-major. Now in her fourth semester on The Orion and having assumed the editor-in-chief position, she is prepared to continue helping upcoming journalists and endeavors to continue building her repertoire of multimedia and writing skills. In her free time, she enjoys writing, watching and analyzing films, reading and spending time with her loved ones.
Kit Beauchamp
Kit Beauchamp, Reporter
Kit Beauchamp is a Communications Major at Chico State University. Originally from Fairfax, CA, he transferred to Chico from Santa Barbara City College following the Covid-19 pandemic. Kit has always been interested in writing and journalism, and this is his first semester writing for The Orion. He hopes to use his platform to give voice to all facets of the student body, shed light on interesting and relevant topics, and present the unbiased truth. In his spare time, Kit enjoys music, fried foods, run-on sentences and looking at colorful birds.    

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