Letters to the Editor, December 16, 2020

'Push Pause' on budget cuts

The Humboldt California Faculty Association (CFA) has launched a community-wide petition calling on the broader HSU community (faculty members, students, staff, alumni, and Humboldt residents), to stand in solidarity with HSU faculty against budget cuts. It is our position that the administration should Push Pause on cutting classes or faculty positions in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The petition can be accessed via this link: change.org/HSU_PushPause.

Humboldt State University’s administration is directing department chairs to make permanent and extensive cuts to course offerings over the next two years. 

These cuts will result in some departments having their course offerings depleted by as much as 25 percent, limiting student access to classes and faculty support while delaying pathways to graduation. 

The administrative directive is causing committed educators to lose work and healthcare benefits. 

These are the same faculty members who have moved mountains to make sure that HSU continued to serve students during this global pandemic. In this emergency, we should not be treating dedicated faculty members as throwaway merchandise, but as valued members of our University community. 

While dedicated educators face unemployment, more upper-level administrators are being hired and the college continues to prioritize growth — except when it comes to faculty. Now, to balance the budget, the HSU administration is pressuring faculty union members to cut union jobs—at a time when faculty need them most. 

CFA  Humboldt believes that cuts to faculty jobs and healthcare during a pandemic is immoral and urges the university to Push Pause on cuts.

Our CFA cartoons present the contrasting life-cycles of lecturers and administrators on HSU’s campus. These images are accredited to @tipthegalwaystudiocat and accompany our ask for community support.

Join the CFA petition and Push Pause on cuts today!

Nicola Walters
Humboldt California Faculty Association (CFA)

A phenomenal opportunity for reform at HSU

A generation ago, Humboldt State University joined the nation’s rapid expansion into the privatization movement, promising to bring “business efficiencies” to government.

However, whether it’s public education, prisons, the military, energy, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, housing, immigration, or the public airwaves, privatization has been disastrous, bearing no resemblance to the efficiencies of free-enterprise.

Once privatization removes institutional knowledge from government, it has leverage to extort higher corporate fees, deregulation, expansion and personal gain. The HSU University Center Corporation’s multi-million dollar “non-profit” bureaucracy offers a case-study in privatization’s ethical and business failures and is currently under review for termination.

The California Education Code regulates campus corporations, (aka “auxiliary organizations”), by limiting their services to “essential university operations”, it also guarantees due-process rights for employees in order to reduce corruption by reducing workplace fear. In 1984, University Center corporate director Burt Nordstrom, (replacing his brother-in-law, Charles Lindemenn), hired attorneys with a strategy to circumvent employees’ due-process rights by having workers sign contracts stating they can be fired without cause, “at-will”, (seen recently at KHSU). This is how “public-private partnerships” divert accountability from government, in this case, overseen by former HSU vice president and University Center corporate board advisor, Edward “Buzz” Webb.

The Education Code’s restrictions on corporate growth were also circumvented by the University Center’s reinterpretation of “essential university operations” to include College of the Redwood’s housing and food services, Eureka’s aquatic center, Arcata’s public pool, failed attempts to purchase Eureka’s historic “Sweezy Theater” and a Bend, Oregon hotel serving HSU’s exclusive corporate ski junkets. HSU proceeded to invest $300 million remodeling and expanding leisure venues, sports and activities, adding elite locked-gate housing, and library lattes to the University Center’s growing empire of “essential services” that already provide skiing, sailing, kayaking, rafting, rock climbing, fencing and international celebrity entertainers.

Despite early warnings from courageous faculty and staff, academic courses and degrees were being eliminated as HSU’s equivalent of “Club Med” expanded; experienced professors were early-retired; classrooms became overcrowded; card-locks and “blue-light” emergency stations were poor substitutes for the nighttime janitorial staff HSU terminated, all occurring long before the 2008 economic collapse and COVID-19.

“Club HSU” not only attracted hundreds of wealthier students and community participants, it requires them, causing far-greater impacts from every recession, just as the healthcare industry is designed to best-serve the wealthiest patients, bankrupting average families buried in debt and immediately collapsing during an epidemic making the U.S. “Number One“ in worldwide fatalities per-capita.

Humboldt County’s miles of wilderness, wetlands, pristine beaches, rivers, tributaries, lakes, bay, mountains, trails, lagoons, forests and wildlife were always more than enough without requiring HSU’s majority of poor and working-class students, (800 reported homeless in 2019), to subsidize privatization’s expanding services few can afford.

Real CSU reform would address systemic nepotism, favoritism and patronage at the core of administrative incompetence and corruption, for example, the California Auditor uncovered university administrator’s enriching themselves by early-investing in the software company that would centralize the California State University computer systems; a $750 million project.

While it’s no panacea, top administrators should be required to model academic excellence by holding advanced degrees in their fields of public administration, human resources, public finance, or communication, making it more difficult to stack a university’s bureaucracy with friends and family sycophants willing to violate their Constitutional oath to “Promote the General Welfare” by sharing contempt for the California Education Code.

Terminating the University Center Corporation presents a combination of phenomenal opportunities returning institutional knowledge, essential services and due-process to HSU. Trained by a competent consultant, HSU students are more than capable of managing HSU services themselves for academic credit. Or, corporate services can be transferred to the ASB; organized under a student-cooperative; separated by individual 501c3’s; or eliminated entirely, opening opportunities for student entrepreneur’s off-campus.

In considering students’ capability, remember the first U.S. Admiral, David Farragut, who, at 12 years old, commandeered a captured enemy warship from Peru to Boston with its British prisoners. Farragut wasn’t a “one-off” exception; the amazing potential of average American youth’s is well-documented by New York City’s 4-time teacher of the year, prolific author, researcher, and international lecturer John Taylor Gatto, who points out, “Education is not something given to students, it must be assertively taken.”  

 Public universities possess the resources for students to develop the skills, imagination, confidence and independence needed to cope with extraordinary and unpredictable future challenges. A worldwide epidemic, requiring years of economic recovery, should dissolve decades of excuses denying student’s the opportunities to explore and develop their full-potential that is their birthright.

George Clark
HSU Liberal Arts, 1982
HSU Center Accounting
Technician, 1979-89

Pre-vax precautions

2020 has been quite a year: devastating fires (e.g., August Complex), violent protests and a record-breaking heat wave. 

What about the COVID-19 virus? A bright light shone in November 2020 because Pfizer made a strongly effective vaccine for COVID-19. 

Don’t throw away the masks just yet! If authorized, supplies of the vaccine will be limited.

A virus did not damage my gait, hearing and speech; a drunken driver hit me in 1992. I teach people to not drive drunk. My teaching continues.

Prevent getting and spreading the virus until this vaccine becomes available:

• Celebrate holidays with few people. Preferably, those you live with. 

• Use digital platforms (like Zoom) or postage mail to connect with others. 

• Watch religious services on TV or online. Gatherings can spread the virus causing illness or death. 

• Limit physical interactions with others. Wear a mask in populated areas and stay 6 feet away from others. 

• Avoid heavy drinking. If intoxicated, you are more likely to behave in ways that promote the spread of the virus and even drive drunk. 

• Hand washing is your best line of defense. 

Lori Martin

A searing synopsis

Donald Trump is a loser like David Perdue.
Trump’s voters are rubes and crazy fools.
What are you afraid of, racist Republicans?
Where did those fascist Trump flags go?
Don’t you want to die for Mad King Trump?
Drink the Kool-Aid of Orange Jim Jones!
Start a second Civil War and see how it goes?
You already lost! The President-elect is Joe.
And with Kamala as Biden’s Vice President,
And two GOP Georgia Senate seats in play,
By January 20th, GOP control is going away!

Moscow Mitch McConnell is going to cry,
While the Trump Crime Family endlessly lies.
Don Jr. is high on cocaine, don’t you know?
Princess Ivanka will get her own TV show.
Trump’s third wife Melania will get a divorce.
So Trump needs more lawyers of course.
For frivolous lawsuits and paying porn stars.
To buy photos of Eric maskless at a gay bar.
And get ready for Trump Tower in Moscow,
Since the traitor needs a new residence now.
Jake Pickering

We're Arcata!

Some Arcatans’ inner roar
Grew loud, (too big to ignore),
So they ran for council
in a race of 10.

And online or safe outdoors
Discussed and shared
their own platforms,
Based on what they’d heard and what they’d recommend.

So, yes... you three have won, and our trusting votes were earned.
The work has just begun.
There’s so much yet to learn. 

And together, we can do anything!
We are strong (strong).
We are invincible (invincible).
We’re Arcata! 

To you seekers who achieved
Fewer votes in your tallies,
Please consider an alternative new role.

For there’s several vacancies
Among the city committees
Paths to advocate those passions in your soul.

Oh, yes! We’re all more wise.
We’ve learned much from each campaign.
Time was sacrificed.
 Fresh perspectives were attained. 

True engagement broadens the visioning!
Roads might be long (yawn),
Inconceivable (yet possible).
We’re Spark-cata!

There’s a Mary Poppins wind.
Who knows what’s just ’round the bend?
Let’s imagine our way onward, mindfully.

Policies to comprehend,
Creative ways to mend and spend,
Let’s recalibrate with prudence, gracefully.

Whoa, stress! Impacts are deep.
Our economy feels weak.
Our services ain’t cheap.
This fiscal year’s unique.

To the table, there’s so much that we all bring!
Sometimes we’re wrong (darn)
Let’s stay practical (sustainable).
We’re Smart-cata! 

Aiming high, find common ground.
Deepen ties with town-and-gown.
And for now, discussions remain in Zoomland.

Build-Back-Better sounds profound,
With equity and justice now!
Transparency helps us trust and understand.

Oh, yes! Speak your truth.
Many moments to meet, soon.
Our needs and wants fine-tuned.
Meh objectives could be pruned.

Moving forward will take compromising!
Seek those withdrawn, (woebegone),
Invisible, (and recoverable).
We’re Heart-cata! 

And with time, changes will come.
New structures soon might block the sun,
As we grow up with the climate on our mind. 

Small-town feel has been hard-won.
Connections enhance love and fun.
Let’s find balance as we update and streamline.

Oh, yes! We’ll be fine,
if engagement stays alive.
On the dais, again five.
Like our forest, we will thrive. 

Collectively, we can keep evolving!
A Humboldt song (rock on!),
We are originals (unsinkable).
We’re Arcata! 

Moonlight Macumber



Related posts