Brown Bag’ addresses frustrations

By Aaron Castrejon

Budget cuts, tuition increases and professor layoffs dominated
the topic for discussion at the Brown Bag with The Presidents event
held in the campus quad last Tuesday.

Formerly known as Pizza with The Presidents, the event allows
students and faculty to participate in an open forum with
University President Michael Ortiz and ASI president Richard Liu,
in addition to a plethora of administrators.

The event was markedly smaller with the elimination of free
pizza, but some students asked big questions regarding the budget
situation.

Just as the event got under way, a group of students led a
protest march from the University Library to the Brown Bag
event.

The students from Students for Quality Education and some
California Faculty Association members were protesting the severe
reduction in CSU funding from the state. Students chanted, “No more
cuts!”

Many wore brown paper bags over their faces, with sayings such
as “Have you seen my education?” written on them.

Janina Hidalgo, a member of SQE, said that because of the
limited funding, students might have to self-educate.

“We have to do the same amount of work in a quarter, but not get
the instruction or get help from the professor who comes to fill in
the gaps,” Hidalgo said.

Ruben Vasquez from SQE simply asked what the administration
would be doing now, and in the future to prevent further cuts.

Ortiz said there is not much he can do considering the issues
deal with resources (money).

“I get a budget, I get fees from you [the students]”those are
the two things that drive this institution,” said Ortiz. He also
said the school is given a budget and they deal with what is given
to them.

One student, Pati Guerra, from SQE, delivered nearly 400
complaint forms directly to President Ortiz expressing concerns
regarding the dramatic increase in tuition fees.

Ortiz gave some figures regarding how the fiscal crisis has
seriously affected not only tuition, but also faculty pay.

From 1998-99, the state provided a little more than $11,000 in
per-student spending.

Currently, the state provides just over $4,500 per student.
Tuition fees have nearly doubled from $2,500 to more than $4,000 a
year.

“We’re asking you to pay more and get less, we’re asking the
staff to work more and get less, so all of us are suffering because
of the situation we’re in,” Ortiz remarked.

A senior in the Foods and Nutrition Department addressed asked a
question regarding if all activity classes will be cancelled by the
winter 2010 quarter.

Sharon Hilles, associate dean for CLASS, answered the question
and said, “As far as I know, that’s what we’re probably going to
have to do because we just don’t have the money.”

Alfonso Munoz, a student from SQE, nearly got into a war of
words with President Ortiz.Munoz asked if there is anything the
students, voters and other community members could do to give Ortiz
support to stand up for the students and faculty to the CSU
board.

Ortiz then said he would be more effective in the long term by
keeping his job than he would be losing it.

“When the students present these petitions, when the students
speak in front of the board, it’s all coming out loud and clear,”
Ortiz said. “The voice is being heard, it’s a matter of determining
whether or not the direction they want to take is something that
makes sense.

I would have to make a decision about whether or not I’m more
effective not getting up in front of the board and criticizing
their actions or doing what I’m doing,” Ortiz said.

Munoz said he felt Ortiz was just being silent with the CSU
board and said into the microphone, “Don’t give me excuses, if you
can’t do it [speak up to the CSU board], it’s cool.”

Richard Liu, ASI president, spoke up to assure the students
things are being done to stave off more drastic measures.

“I want each one of you to realize that what we are looking at
right now is a small picture of what’s happening out there,” Liu
said.

Liu spoke about ASI re-established Lobby Corps. Lobby Corps is a
group established to meet legislators and other political figures
in the state to lobby for the school and the CSU system. The hope
is to partner with SQE to make a bigger impact.

Liu defended Ortiz’s efforts to help the students and faculty.
He said if the students want to effect real change for their
benefit, they would have to go “Up the ladder. We shouldn’t stay
here and put a tent out here [on campus], we should put a tent, on
furlough Fridays, in front of the offices of the legislators,” Liu
said.

In a one-on-one interview, President Ortiz said it’s a matter of
the level of understanding in regards to the student’s response to
the efforts of the administration to keep quality education moving
in Cal Poly.

“Some only understand what happens on campus, others only
understand what happens at the board of trustees,” Ortiz said. “Few
really understand how the state really impacts what happens on the
campus.”

Reach Aaron Castrejon at:
managingeditor@thepolypost.com

Brown Bag

Ed Diaz/Poly Post

Brown Bag’ addresses frustrations

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