CSU employees seek representation

Last week, the California State University Board of Trustees met in Long Beach for a meeting concerning issues that will affect all CSU campuses. 

Despite how the decisions being made will affect all campus workers, the voices present at the meeting only represented a fraction of all CSU employees. 

Introduced in February, Assembly Bill 2721, which has currently been referred to the Standing Committee for Higher Education,  would make seats for staff members on the CSU board mandatory and therefore giving employees equal representation on the Board of Trustees.

Of the 44,000 employees of the CSU system, 20,000 are not involved with these proceedings due to a lack of opportunity for representation.

The California State University system began in 1960, following the California Master Plan for Higher Education, which established a system for postsecondary education. Approximately 100,000 CSU students graduate every year from 23 different campuses with a choice in over 1,800 degrees.

As of 2012, the CSU system employs 4,664 professors, 2,686 associate professors, 2,004 assistant professors and 1,991 lecturers. Administration, alumni, faculty, and students all have a chance for representation, yet thousands of other employees of the CSU system are overlooked in the boardroom. This group includes everyone from grounds and food service workers to financial aid staff and information technology (IT) support. 

Pediatrician and former UC Davis professor Richard Pan has challenged this division of workers by creating the Assembly Bill 2721. The bill would create equal opportunities for employees of the CSU system to be represented in the board room. 

“Classified staff members are the backbone of the California State University system. Assembly Bill 2721 would bring fairness to the CSU Board of Trustees, granting staff members the same voice as CSU students, faculty, and alumni by requiring a staff seat on the CSU board,” said California State University Employees Union President Pat Gantt in a press release. “Assembly member Pan is to be commended for his foresight in sponsoring this long-overdue measure.”

To ensure equal representation, the bill asks to “revise the membership of the trustees by requiring the governor also to appoint a non-faculty employee of the university for a two-year term.” 

This incorporation of a non-faculty member would be among the first steps in the direction of an equal representation for those inside the CSU system.

“To date the California State University (CSU) has practiced a climate of exclusion that has denied the 20,000 classified staff meaningful representation,” said CSU Employee Union Legislative Committee Chair Kim Harrington in a press release. “This bill will ensure that the staff of the CSU has an equal voice on the Board of Trustees.”