If the CSU weren’t in the middle of a massive budget crisis, it’d be pretty hard to be discontent with their planned purchase of Western State University College of Law.
The property lies adjacent to the west side of Cal State Fullerton and would add 86,000 square feet to the campus. Its structure comes complete with its own library and classrooms, and would provide students with 300 additional parking spaces.
In theory, the planned purchase sounds top-notch: A growing university gains an additional facility for instruction, and students have more space to park. What could be so displeasing about that?
But the CSU is in a massive budget crisis.
The state has allocated less and less to education over the past two fiscal years; the budget for the CSU has been slashed by $650 million dollars, causing tuition to increase yet again. Programs have been consolidated or cut altogether, and some teaching positions have been eliminated.
CSUF President Mildred Garcia addressed the impact of budget cuts in a formal message to students on CSUF’s website.
“I have been working with the campus community in determining the best way for us to manage these cuts,” the message reads. “To date our specific actions have included: reducing admissions, instituting a hiring freeze, eliminating faculty, staff and student positions, eliminating non-essential travel and making large cuts in operations and expenditures.”
If one thing is clear, it’s that the university has already had to make a great deal of changes in order to adapt to the increasing constraints of less funding.
And things will undoubtedly get worse if Proposition 30 fails. The CSU has already voted in favor of a five percent tuition increase if that’s the case. That’s an additional $150 dollars per student each semester.
It’s no secret that CSU students are hurting with recent budget cuts. As tuition continually increases, students are going to find that financing their education is a far more difficult task than it’s ever been.
So at the very least, it’s not unreasonable to expect the CSU to use the money that it does have in a way that’s most beneficial to students.
That’s why it’s nonsensical and irresponsible for the CSU Board of Trustees to approve the purchase of this building for $18,250,000. That’s a lot of money to spend on an additional facility when there are far more pressing issues to address.
To put things in perspective, the cut of $650 million that caused tuition to increase by 12 percent is 35.6 times as much as what’s being spent to buy up the college building.
But the hefty price tag isn’t the only issue to address in regard to the purchase. The fact that CSUF students can’t even utilize the college building for the next three years is another problem.
If there’s no immediate benefit for students, then what’s the point in buying the building now?
If budget cuts have been so extensive that they’ve necessitated an increase in tuition for students, then surely long term investments should be out of the question. The university needs to be making a concerted effort toward putting budget money into things that help students now, not three years from now.
No one should have to pay into an investment that they don’t get to reap the benefit of. Then there’s also the issue that CSUF doesn’t even have an idea of what the college building will be used for.
A committee has to be formed some time in the next two years in order to determine how the building will be occupied once it becomes available for CSUF operations.
So not only did the board approve the purchase of an extremely expensive building that can’t be used yet, CSUF does not even have a viable use for the facility.
That decision sounds like impulse buying more than anything else.
If funding weren’t tight as it is, this would be a great purchase, but as CSUF students, we have to look at the bigger picture. The admissions threshold has gotten tougher, and tuition and hiring freezes are both big issues.
Common sense would indicate that the money garnered from the CSU bond measure would be best used elsewhere. But perhaps common sense doesn’t apply to the Board of Trustees.