The California Faculty Association has received more than 3,000 signatures pushing for Humboldt State to hold off on making budget cuts during the current pandemic. The petition has grabbed the attention of many among the greater HSU community. On Feb 18, a meeting organized by the HSU chapter of the CFA was held over Zoom to discuss the ramifications of the class and faculty job cuts including the impacts that they would have on both students and faculty.
Nicola Walters, a lecturer in the politics department and the organizing chair of the Humboldt CFA, spoke on her experiences over the years as both a student and now a faculty member at HSU. Frightened by what she is witnessing all around her, she wants to fight for what is right.
“I’ve also sat in countless department meetings and watched the people who taught me, who I look up to, who make this university a place worth attending left bewildered and broken by administrative agendas that herald shared governance, but instead demand cuts to programs, classes, and jobs,” Walters said. “I’ve listened to my colleagues describe feeling disposable, exhausted, terrified, and traumatized while we grapple with overhauls to our campus.”
Walters remarked on the contrast of HSU receiving lots of federal funding as of late against HSU slashing jobs and classes.
“Putting profit over people’s jobs doesn’t fit with our university or our community,” Walters said. “Our campus isn’t adverse to change, it’s adverse to practices that violate trust and perpetuate cuts against our campus community. Implementing changes while faculty are unable to protect their interests is an administrative strategy and is not the way forward.
Another key speaker was Dr. Cutcha Risling Brady, an associate professor and department chair in the Native American Studies department. Brady talked about the impact that any additional cuts would have on students. More specifically, she introduced the idea that students are feeling out of control because they are already dealing with family deaths and other hardships during the pandemic but to see faculty and staff that they rely on for support is next level unacceptable.
One of these students, senior communication major Anastasia Tejada, is concerned that one of the closest allies in her department, lecturer Leslie Rossman, could very well have her position cut in due time. Rossman helped Tejada get into a graduate school at the University of Nevada, Reno, and secure funding for it.
“That would not have happened without her support and guidance,” Tejada said. “I would not know where to start and in all honesty, I probably wouldn’t be headed into higher education if it was not for her.”
Tejada was not surprised that HSU president Tom Jackson was not in attendance for the Push Pause meeting and thinks it is reflective of his entourage as a collective.
“He has been very silent this entire time he has been missing,” Tejada said. “From almost every important conversation, the fact that he couldn’t even show up to listen just proves the point that the administration does not care about its lectures or faculty.”