When a prospective student begins to think about attending SSU, their journey usually begins by meeting an SSU Recruiter. Before even starting class, this student must meet with other various academic professionals. The admissions office files the paper work to admit the student into the university, and if said student receives financial aid, then a meeting with a financial aid advisor will come next. If one needs to determine what exact classes need to be taken to satisfy the necessary 120 units of General Education, then chances are that student will be meeting with an academic advisor. All of these people must be met before a student even sits in on their first lecture. All of these positions and many others at this university stand as part of the union of the Academic Professionals of California.
This union is made up of roughly 2,400 student service professionals across various CSU campuses while employing about 75 staff members here at SSU.
“We may be small, but we are definitely mighty,” said Steward Lillian Lee. Each one of these employees is constantly working behind the scenes to make sure students smoothly transition through college life in various ways.
They have a presence in areas such as the Library, Recreation Center, Disability Student Services, Learning Skills Service, and various departments that make up the entire campus. This group on campus is led by Stewards Lillian Lee, Whitney McDowell, Carson Williams, and the Head Steward of the chapter, Edie Brown.
“We’re not just staff…our work speaks for itself and stands on its own. I consider us the foundation on which a student’s educational life begins,” said Brown. Brown and the majority of the staff spend much of their time staying beyond the normal amount of time that is considered “open” on campus. Normally the staff ends up staying an extra half hour to an hour past the normal office closing time of 4:30 p.m.
“We don’t close the door for anyone…we stay until the job gets done,” said Lee. This group also expands that knowledge at the three Statewide Council Meetings the union holds each year.
“We find that when we get together, similar questions and situations come up which we discuss as a whole to come up with a logical solution,” said Lee.
As the STAR has written in previous articles, back in January, Governor Jerry Brown restored approximately $125 million toward the CSU Budget, in which $38 million of that lump sum was allocated toward raises for the teachers, academic administrators, maintenance, and even police officers, who haven’t been given a raise since 2007.
In 2009, many of these CSU employees had to endure furloughs, which meant that they were mandated to reduce their hours and wage while trying to keep up with the workload increase due the reduction of employees.
“It’s a step in the right direction being led by Governor Brown and the CSU so we’ll take it,” said Brown when asked about the 1.34 percent salary increase.
Although this problem is solved, the Academic Professionals of California is vigilantly thinking about the next event where they’ll be required to take a stand. The next possible situation seems to come in the shape of the new Student Center. Brown expressed worry regarding “cross pollination” with the employees in the Rec Center trying to fill vacancies in the new Student Center versus training and hiring new employees.
“If we’re understaffed in a particular area, wouldn’t it make sense to look at how we can hire new people in instead of taking from somewhere else and blending to resolve that problem?” asked Brown. “Our concern as a union is putting unreasonable work onto people to do things that aren’t what they’re specialized to do.” Brown holds seats on different faculty committees so this story regarding the Student Center will develop more with time.