EDITORIAL: 6 action items the next CSU chancellor must address


Robbie Pierce

Photo illustration. Following the announcement of Timothy P. White’s retirement, the CSU has begun a search for its next chancellor. A “listening forum” was held at Sac State Tuesday, the first of six planned across the CSU system.

The students of the California State University system deserve a chancellor that will champion the cause of affordable and honest education for every student, following the retirement of current CSU Chancellor Timothy White.

White served as chancellor of UC Riverside from 2008 to 2012, after which he assumed the post of chancellor of the CSU system. According to EdSource, White said he wants to leave by June of next year but will stay as late as December 2020 if “that helps in the search for a successor to lead what is the largest four-year public university in the nation.”

The CSU Board of Trustees has the duty to appoint the next chancellor after White retires following the spring 2020 semester. Whoever the trustees appoint should understand the culture, motivations and hardships of the student body which they serve.

The CSU hosted its first open forum in their search for a new chancellor Tuesday at Sacramento State’s University Union Ballroom.

RELATED: CSU begins search for new chancellor with Sac State open forum

Here’s what The State Hornet editorial board would like to see the next chancellor take action on, whomever she may be. After all, when students are paying thousands of dollars a year to attend university, this is the chancellor they should get


1. Represent CSU students


The next CSU chancellor should be someone who looks like CSU students and can connect with students based on their own experience. This means the CSU Board of Trustees should consider candidates other than old white men.

Women accounted for 56.5 percent of the student body in 2017 with 273,533 female students attending, according to the CSU. Additionally, a majority of students are people of color, with 194,237 Hispanic and Latinx students forming a 40 percent plurality over the 23.6 percent of the student population who identify as white.

In choosing the next chancellor, the Board of Trustees should consider someone who has first-hand knowledge and understanding of the experience of racism and sexism that many of CSU students suffer, not someone who has benefitted from white privilege — which all white men do. To further accurately represent the experiences of the student population, the next chancellor should be an alumnus.

With graduate degrees in education growing from 2,822 granted in 1971 to 4,469 in 2019, there are plenty of CSU alumni with credentials appropriate for the position who can use their California public university experience to connect with and understand students. 

With students facing the constant struggle of the California housing market, how can the next chancellor truly understand that challenge is if they haven’t faced it themselves?


2. Acknowledge the cost of college


Students paid an average of $7,216 in tuition and campus fees per semester during the 2017-18 school year. The average financial aid package awarded to students that year was $11,160 for the entire academic year. That divided down to $5,580 a semester, which meant students still had to pay $1,636 out of pocket each semester.

In 2018, The State Hornet reported that even as students faced a potential $228 tuition increase, the CSU Board of Trustees approved a 2.5 percent salary increase for employees across-the-board, raising White’s base salary to $450,345.

RELATED: CSU executives to get pay raise despite potential tuition hike, funding gap

While $1,636 a semester may seem small to some, that cost is in addition to the food and housing costs that many students are now budgeting for the first time. It’s also important to note that jobs students can balance with their school lives are hard to find and in high demand.

This doesn’t even factor in the students who are denied financial aid because of the income of parents who aren’t supporting their children in college.

Whoever the Board of Trustees appoints as the next chancellor should take note of the reality of students’ finances. They definitely should not be so tone-deaf as to propose a tuition hike the same year the Board of Trustees passed a pay raise for the chancellor and CSU presidents.


3. Reinvest in student housing


Housing is another major issue for students as rents rose 33 percent from 2007-2017 in the cities that contain the 23 CSU campuses, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. On-campus housing across the system accounts for only 13 percent of the student population. This means that over 400,000 students must currently find off-campus housing and a way to pay for increasing rents on top of their tuition. 

According to the CSU cost calculations, on-campus housing at each campus is similar in pricing to living off-campus, but living on-campus allows for more stability and safety than students finding an unfamiliar spot to live off-campus. 

More than 40 percent of residents were living in “cost burdened” rental situations where their rent exceeded 30 percent of their income in 2015. A college degree can be an integral part of increasing a person’s income and the new chancellor should put a strong focus on finding more ways to allow students to focus on their studies and not where they should live and how they can possibly afford rent, cost of living and tuition.    


4. Support Dreamers


DACA recipients or “Dreamers” face a constant threat to their education under the Trump administration’s continuing attempts to end the program and outright hostility to undocumented immigrants. This is why the next chancellor must be someone who will remain an ally to Dreamers regardless of actions taken by the White House, Congress or the Supreme Court.

Trump paints a picture of undocumented immigrants that is wholly inaccurate to those among the CSU student body. Counted among the Dreamers of Sac State are leaders of our community who serve in student government and volunteer with resources provided on campus.

Even Dreamers who are not model students have a right to receive their education without living in the shadow of deportation.

RELATED: ‘Nothing in my life is secure’: Sac State DACA recipients speak out

On top of the stresses felt by the average students, Dreamers have to worry that they could be taken by Immigration and Customs Enforcement at a moment’s notice and shipped to a country they don’t remember, with a language they don’t speak. The next CSU chancellor should ensure that no matter what, Dreamers will be protected.


5. Build a new campus


The 2019-2020 California state budget includes a $2 million one-time fee to “undertake a review of a potential CSU campus in San Joaquin County, likely in Stockton.” A second $2 million one-time fee was added to “undertake a review of potential CSU campuses in Chula Vista, Concord, Palm Desert and San Mateo County.”

The Board of Trustees will appoint a chancellor that will undoubtedly support this growth of the CSU. But the Board of Trustees must ensure their appointment is ready to face that challenge while not letting their other duties fall by the wayside.

In 2018, 2,398 San Joaquin County residents applied to Sac State, the closest campus to Stockton at a 53 minute drive. Of those, only 559 enrolled at Sac State.

The residents of Stockton deserve to have easy access to higher education within their community wherein the students can save money by continuing to live with their parents. A CSU Stockton campus would mark the highlight of the city’s regrowth in recent years.


6. Schedule more classes


While building a new campus might lighten the load, it won’t solve the challenge campuses are currently facing with impaction. Currently, seven of the CSU’s 23 campuses are impacted across all undergraduate programs.

Building new classrooms and taller buildings to hold more classes is great, but the new chancellor should also consider a solution to impaction that might not be popular with the teacher’s union. 

The reality of many college students consists of trying to balance jobs and classes, for some this means day jobs and night classes. The next CSU chancellor should work to provide additional class times to students who can’t make traditional class times.

While CSU campuses are packed with students during the weekdays over the spring and fall, the campuses become ghost towns over the weekend, for weeks during the winter and for months over the summer. The CSU chancellor should work to provide more class options for the student body and call for the state to fund these additional times so the classes don’t cost a small fortune.