State Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, a member of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee, is responding to the May 23 Viewpoints article "CSU executive pay distracts from the real issue harm to higher ed caused by cuts." The commentary stated that "preoccupation with the compensation of our university system's leaders is misplaced. The student association is much more concerned about the 33 percent cut in state support for the university."
Last month, students protested at the state Capitol against the mismanagement of the UC and CSU systems, and the executive pay of presidents and chancellors. Ironically, the University of California Student Association and California State Student Association have been silent on legislation that would have effectively curtailed executive pay at the universities such as Senate Bill 1368, a bipartisan measure to cap state worker pay at the level of the governor.
The president of the CSSA even said in The Bee that the issue of executive pay was a "distraction." California faces nearly a $17 billion deficit, the UC and CSU budgets are threatened, tuition and fees have skyrocketed, enrollment is down, yet somehow the CSSA still believes that CSU president's pay needs to go up. How is that in the best interest of students?
This one-sided partisan advocacy is also hurting students. Last year the majority party in the Legislature single-handedly passed a budget that cut nearly $2 billion from higher education. Not a single Republican legislator supported the budget. In fact, Republicans presented Gov. Jerry Brown and the majority party with an alternative budget plan that kept higher education funding intact. Again, the UCSA and CSSA were mysteriously silent. How is this effective advocacy on behalf of students they represent? Clearly, rank and file students are being misrepresented by their leadership.
Instead of supporting meaningful reforms to help students in our higher education system, the UCSA and CSSA have instead chosen to sponsor the California Dream Act, which could add $150 million in additional costs to an already strained higher education budget. Thus, the UC regents and CSU board of trustees have the excuse they need to increase fees. The UCSA and CSSA also love the "Middle Class Scholarship," by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez. The speaker said himself that not all revenue raised by his measure would go to fund education but could be diverted to fund other aspects of the government.
The end result here is that rank-and-file students are being wielded as political pawns by the UCSA and CSSA to advance their extremist agenda. It's time serious students take control of the organizations that are charged with representing them, and focus on meaningful reforms that actually benefit students, instead of falling victim to the UCSA and CSSA's political games.