Hundreds of professors walked out of class last week in a salary dispute with California State University.
If it seems like a strange time for a strike, well, it is. But faculty members have reason to be angry, and so do students and their parents.
CSU trustees and Chancellor Charles Reed have granted pay raises to administrators and exorbitant salaries to new campus presidents at a time when the university is struggling to fulfill its mission: educating students.
Faculty members are unhappy that, unlike administrators, their pay has been frozen since 2007. It's not fair, but the answer isn't more raises.
A raise implies there's money to sustain it in subsequent years. In the case of CSU, that's not clear.
After years of budget cuts, state funding for the 23-campus system has fallen to its lowest level since 1998. Midyear cuts are likely to take another<QA0>
$100 million from CSU.
Meanwhile, the price of attending Sonoma State or another CSU campus has climbed steadily.
On Wednesday, one day before professors at the Hayward and Dominguez Hills campuses staged a one-day strike, CSU trustees approved a 9 percent tuition increase, bringing basic fees to $5,970 for the 2011-12 school year. Tack on campus fees averaging $1,047, and the full cost will top $7,000.
Tuition and fees have more than tripled since 2002-03, and, as faculty representatives pointed out during a recent visit with The Press Democrat editorial board, today's students are getting less for their money as classes are eliminated and many vacant teaching posts go unfilled.