California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

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This Week’s Debate: Should Some Private Money Be Used For Public Universities?

Con: Universities Need To Return To The Public

by Tina Phillips

Did you know the CSU System was once known as the “people’s university?” In California since 1960, the Master Plan for Higher Education promised every California student an initially free and later affordable education at a CSU, UC or community college.

Thus, the Master Plan envisioned higher education as a public good. In 2004, this started to drastically change as Charles Reed, the Chancellor of the CSU, signed the Higher Education Compact Agreement between Governor Schwarzenegger and the California State University 2005-06 through 2010-11.

This was a systematic shift in the way college education is viewed in California. We were told that this was just temporary due to a bad economy and a state budget crisis. However, this was really the beginning of university education being redefined as a private good.

The idea was that private sources of funding would replace public money so that the state of California would no longer have to provide taxpayer money to support colleges. Maybe that is a realistic goal for a Harvard or a Stanford, schools that can afford to pay for their students to go to college for free just based off of private donors alone. Unfortunately, for the CSU, what little private money has been donated to us, just was not enough to cover our costs. What was the result?

Tuition shot up dramatically, class sections were eliminated, faculty and staff were furloughed or laid off, student services were reduced and students were even turned away who were qualified to be accepted. In fact, tuition has tripped in the past ten years and for what? We ended up paying more to get less and suffer, while greedy administrators sit pretty.

Another by-product is that our university becomes about money-making and not about learning and bettering our society. Not only has our university become privatized and corporatized, it has been taken over by a business model that charges students exorbitant amounts of money with the promise they will get high paying jobs.

However, what if there is no return on our investment? Often times the jobs we think we will get when we graduate do not ever materialize. This is after we or our parents have shelled out many thousands of dollars (or we are wracked with debt for years to come we cannot afford to pay off working at a job that barely covers our bills). In fact, as of August, American student loan debt surpassed credit card debt. In addition, we must ask ourselves at what cost do we accept this new business model that has taken over our university? Whatever happened to education for self-fulfillment and the betterment of our community?

Isn’t education supposed to make us critical thinkers and doers? Education should not be a money-making scheme. Education should be about teaching people how to think, reason and to understand the world. It should be used as a tool of empowerment to give others agency. It should be used to bring about social justice and prepare students to deal with real world ethical dilemmas.

Education should give students a strong sense of responsibility and accountability to others and to their community. A university education is supposed to teach students about giving back to their community, not to compromise our integrity to make a buck.

Note to CSUEB: putting a Starbucks inside the library is not conducive to this goal. We must ask ourselves: do we want every aspect of our society to be commercial, profit-driven and motivated, dictating and shaping every aspect of our lives?

The California State University is supposed to be a public entity for the public good. Before our very eyes it is becoming a money-making operation that serves the almighty dollar at any cost. Our university is screwing students out of not just their hard-earned money but out of a quality education. College is becoming something for the rich and privileged when education is a right that should be guaranteed to all. If we do not provide a quality education to prepare future generations of skilled workers and leaders what kind of society will we have?

We need to renew the master plan. Governor-elect Jerry Brown has said he will do this. But I propose we go back to the original plan: free tuition for all. How do we do that?

Tax the rich and corporations, decriminalize drugs and end the drug war so non-violent drug offenders will not overcrowd prisons, and cut the military budget by 50 percent. Reprioritize state and federal budgets so we can shift from our university system from being profit-oriented to people-oriented again. The government should completely subsidize a college education for all. Then the state of California can get back to providing a quality education for the promotion of the public good of all society. The reason the CSU was called the “people’s university” is because it was supposed to be accessible to all. Let’s ensure our future by returning our university to public space once again.

Pro: Universities Sometimes Need Private Donations To Improve Education

By Richard Duboc

Although tuition increases have come at a tough time for many CSU East Bay students, the fact remains that it is cheaper than other alternatives.

CSUEB tuition is over a hundred dollars less per year than that of the State University of New York, a comparable university system in size and demographics to the California State University system.

Not to mention that for most of us, CSUEB is close to where we live. It is hard to imagine the inconvenience and financial challenges of having only one or two state universities for the entire state that could be hundreds of miles away.

Compared to the ivory towers of other universities, CSUEB has done everything in its power to make education affordable and accessible to the Bay Area (no, this is not a paid advertisement). But there are disadvantages to getting an education here.

It is my opinion that most CSUEB students get just as good of an education as they would at a top tier university. The problem is that their degree does not go as far, because CSUEB, in all honesty, is not nearly as prestigious as a Stanford or a Harvard.

Before CSUEB can think of competing with Stanford or Harvard, which it never will, it needs to compete with San Francisco State and San Jose State. This will only happen if we get donors and other sources of private funding to improve the campus through the building of new facilities, such as the Valley Business and Technology Center and the Recreation and Wellness Center, and hire more qualified faculty members.

As a member of the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences, I know that most funding is going to business, technology and sciences—just compare Meiklejohn Hall to the VBT Center. I can accept this as long as it helps make the University better as a whole.

CSUEB students do not have nearly as much pride in their school compared to other institutions of higher learning, and frankly, they don’t have as much to be prideful about. However, the administration and faculty need to be viewed as the invaluable assets that they are. We are all in the same boat and need to be working to make CSUEB a better place to study, work and live.

Cal State East Bay is still the People’s University. Just walk through campus—there are people of all backgrounds, ages and ethnicities. By design, this is not an elite university, and it is definitely not an elitist university.

The reason Stanford can offer free tuition for a select number of students is because they charge $34,000 a year in tuition alone for everyone else and have an endowment of $13.8 billion. Comparatively, the entire CSU has an endowment of around $717 million.

It may seem superficial and trite for CSUEB to brag about its graduates making the third highest starting salaries in the CSU, according to a recent San Jose Mercury News Report, but it is not. This is how our school will gain respect and ultimately get better.

Even though more Californians are being turned down by colleges such as CSUEB, there are more and more Californians with college degrees competing for a shrinking job market. A little exclusivity for CSUEB can be seen as a good thing.

We should feel lucky that the University has found a place for us, and hope that our degrees will appreciate with value once we graduate. This does not mean that we should not want the same opportunities that were extended to us to be extended to others.

This is why a balance must be struck. Students should be vigilant with the allocation and cost of their tuitions, but they need to come up with viable and specific ideas for overcoming the shortages in funding which are decided upon by the state legislature.

If anyone can think of any, contact the president or the chancellor of the CSU—they need all the help they can get. It is far too easy to just complain.

We don’t need someone else to blame—we need positive, intelligent people looking to provide practical solutions to the problems. After all, isn’t that what we’re expected to be able to do as college students?

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This Week’s Debate: Should Some Private Money Be Used For Public Universities?