The California Faculty Association at Humboldt State University calls on campus administrators to Push Pause on budget cuts harmful to students and the Humboldt community.
There is no doubt that 2020 has been a challenging year for HSU, and its students, faculty, and staff. 2021 will be much of the same. But reducing course sections does not stem from HSU’s declining student enrollment. In fact, offering fewer classes only hastens the backsliding.
HSU management is cutting classes across nearly all departments, some more than others. Many reductions are so deep they could lead to the demise of departments by further reducing enrollment and threatening their sustainability. HSU management is taking advantage of COVID-19 by pushing through unnecessary budget cuts and shifting HSU values.
These rollbacks are premature and irresponsible, and have a detrimental impact on students. Fewer classes leads to longer timelines for graduation. Fewer classes makes it harder for students to maintain full-time status for financial aid, and diminish the breadth and depth of students’ educational experience. Management’s plan is a dangerous downward spiral: fewer classes = fewer students = fewer classes = fewer students.
Additionally, faculty workload has severely increased, especially for Department Chairs. This leaves less time for student support at a time when need for that aid skyrockets. Student learning conditions are faculty working conditions. During this public health pandemic, students have sought out faculty for assistance with technology, financial aid, and economic, emotional and mental strain from COVID-19’s health and financial carnage.
Lecturers, who are most affected by these cuts, help educate and train the region’s teachers, foresters, business owners, and artists. These faculty members did their part in helping HSU pivot to virtual instruction during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but are now facing potential job loss as well as losing health insurance.
As one of the largest employers in the community, HSU can and should do whatever it takes to maintain a full, steady, stable workforce to help the area’s economy survive COVID-19’s shutdowns.
HSU lecturers, tenure-line faculty, counselors, librarians, and coaches urge management to reverse course and save its departments and programs. CFA members urge management to find other, less harmful solutions to budget gaps, including tapping federal stimulus money and the CSU’s $1.7 billion in reserves. CFA members urge management to preserve the jobs of those with the most direct impact on student success. Do not kick workers and their families off healthcare during a pandemic. Do not accelerate Humboldt’s economic downturn, nor impede its economic recovery.
HSU can, and must, do better. We all deserve it.
Benjamin Shaeffer and Marisol Ruiz, on behalf of the California Faculty Association Humboldt Executive Board.