Joseph Dobzynski, Jr.
Vice President for Representation
The events that transpired at the last trustee meeting were unfortunate, and I join the call for an independent review, but I believe it was symptomatic. Looking at the public record of court documents, testimony in Sacramento, and board minutes, it seems like you did not get the message the protesters were delivering. The student protesters were not here entirely for self-serving reasons, and it wasn’t just about raising tuition-fees one more time. Their anger reflected an accumulation of dissolution over your act and policies, and they represented a much wider dissatisfaction with the direction we can all see the CSU is headed.
That dissatisfaction can be tapped into, to help get us to a better place, or you can resist it. Unfortunately, the way the meeting was handled both during and afterward tells us you plan to continue to resist. I come before you time and again to say that, if we all believe in the CSU, then we can be allies in convincing the state to believe in and re-invest in us. But, from your acts and policies, I don’t see that belief manifested.
You say there is no money and act like there isn’t, when we all know there is plenty of money. You even know where it is. Your own programs to persuade wealthy benefactors to give attest to this. This is the path away from the Master Plan and toward privatization. But the private money is never enough to replace lost state support.
You are on this road partly because you find public accountability inconvenient. We see this in your legislative reports and the way you treat public speakers. Well, guess what, if you don’t want to be held accountable to the public, the public just might withdraw its support. You seem more comfortable making private deals with a wealthy few than you are in supporting the real way out of this mess by helping to restore some balance to our increasingly unsettling distribution of wealth.
I’m reminded of the historic argument Jefferson had with Madison: Jefferson speculated that a more equal distribution of wealth would yield a more stable society, while Madison was Randian before Rand, saying those who own the country ought to run it. Jefferson argued that government should offer opportunity to its people. These two strains run though our history. The CSU is Jeffersonian on a path to Madison. Education, as FDR said in his Jeffersonian “Second Bill of Rights,” is not a privilege. We are entrusted with providing what the Madisonian private sector regards as just that.
In hearing you talk, we are limited to supporting Gov. Brown’s November ballot solution, but this measure does nothing to restore the CSU, and we have to act now like the plan won’t pass. How will this additional $200 million cut affect the workers’ lives, more layoffs and increased workload? Where does it end?
So, we are left wondering, when are you going to really stand up and join the fight for the CSU? M.L. King Jr. said, “The time is always right to do what is right.” Are you going to continue to look for scapegoats, blame the unions for disrupting your meeting, blame the protestors for their ill-advised tug of war over a glass door in a public building, blame the Republicans for their dark visions of an evil public sector, or are you going to take some responsibility here? Have you, have all of us, done enough to save this institution?
I call you “the managers of the decline of a once great institution.” You don’t have to own that label. The CSU is in your trust. Now is the right time to do the right thing and fight to reverse this decline. Join us!
Joseph Dobzynski, Jr.
Vice President for Member Engagement
I work at CSU Channel Islands as a programmer/analyst and currently serve as Vice President for Member Engagement for the California State University Employees Union. I appreciate the opportunity to address this body during public comment. I have a few items to discuss today and will do my best to be brief.
First, your minutes for the November meeting require multiple corrections. The minutes mistakenly identify John Orr as the person leading a coordinated chant. I was the one who lead the People’s Mic. Please do not tarnish John’s good name as a matter of public record. Also, please ensure that Jr. is added to the minutes. My father wants to make sure that I receive full credit (or blame) for the action.
If there was a request to stop chanting, I certainly didn’t hear it, and I was looking right at the trustees during the People’s Mic. The minutes, along with the documents submitted as part of the CSU vs. Bates court case, contain a number of factual errors that do not match up to the actual order of events or your own audio recordings or the multiple videos available on YouTube.
It was chaotic, though, and this is understandable. We had provocateurs who came to the meeting without our knowledge that we could have done more to control. It would not necessarily have prevented the disruptions, but it would have prevented the violence that ensued on both sides. We received conflicting orders from peace officers as part of their poorly coordinated and excessively brutal response, including one individual being shoved while filing out of the auditorium back here and then thrown through both sets of doors, throwing one door open and smacking somebody in the face in the process.
More importantly, the history of student protests, particularly at universities, is a violent one, and rarely on the part of the protestors. The right decision was made at SDSU to back off on suspending Ashley Wardle for two years, especially in light of her brutal treatment, being pulled down and arrested, with the full weight of the officer on her back as she was pressed against the tile in the lobby. That picture haunts me. If the pursuit of this punishment continued, there is no question it would have only emboldened more folks to take action.
But the flames of activism continue to be fed with the extremely dire state of the economy and the lack of job prospects available for the growing price of higher education. We now see a proposal to cap raises for incoming executives at 10 percent of their predecessors, even as tuition continues to go up and nearly all the remaining staff and faculty in the system have failed to see a raise of the same magnitude in the last five years.
We see attempts to justify paying exorbitant salaries to find quality executives to work at the CSU, based on faulty criteria to justify the decision, and do not apply the same standard to the staff and faculty who make the university what it is. Perhaps through the narrow lens of the budget, this seems like small change, but the hypocrisy speaks volumes to those of us in the CSU community.
We also see the Governor’s budget proposal to increase GPA requirements for Cal Grants, which means that those who have access to safe and quality K-12 education to prepare for higher education will get money, and those that do not, generally underrepresented populations, will be denied access to the CSU. This is nothing more than structural racism, and we hope the trustees will help fight this provision.
I appreciate the opportunity to address you during public comment, despite the artificial limits placed on duration. We are running out of the 30 minutes allotted for public comments, and would like Chair Carter, or if it is denied, one brave trustee to motion that public comment is extended to allow everyone here to speak within reasonable limits, and in accordance with your rules. This is a public trust...it’s why you are called trustees, and the bureaucratic attempts to limit public input, along with comments such as Trustee Achtenburg saying “I don’t care what you think” really shine a spotlight on what this body thinks about the public having their say for our higher education institution. If there’s one thing that all advocacy organizations want above all, it is to be heard.
Thank you and see you in March!
Will you extend public comment? Will any trustees motion to make sure everyone has an opportunity past these thirty minutes? Not one? Thank you.
View a YouTube video of Joseph leading chants at the November 16, 2011, Board of Trustees meeting.
Senior Labor Relations Representative
I have attended nearly every meeting of the CSU Board of Trustees for the past 21 years. The unrest and disruptions at the November 16th meeting were unfortunate, but were preventable.
Hundreds of students came to the meeting to protest the fifth increase in student fees over the last four years. Tuition Fees have nearly doubled over that time, from $3048/year in Fall 2008 to $5970/year in Fall 2012. No wonder students were upset.
On November 16, when some people tried to speak who weren’t on the speaker’s list, or who were running a bit over their three-minute time limit, they were summarily cut off. At least two speakers, who were on the speaker’s list--CSUEU representatives Russell Kilday-Hicks and John Orr--were denied their right to speak. Under a similar situation several years ago, Chair Jeffrey Bleich gave the speakers some leeway and allowed everyone the opportunity to speak.
When Chair Carter declared a 10-minute recess, things really got out of hand. Contrary to the meeting minutes, there was no message from the chair or the chancellor telling people where to go or what to do. There were conflicting messages from the police. Some of us were told to leave the room, but several exits were blocked due to pushing and shoving matches. Others were told to sit down and wait. Some of us were told the meeting was cancelled.
General Counsel Christine Helwick was quoted in the press as saying that no one who asked to attend the meeting in the Munitz room was denied access to the meeting. That’s absolutely false. Several people tried to gain access to the Munitz room. I was one of them. We were told we could not participate. Others were told that the meeting had been adjourned--at the very time the board was meeting in secret.
Several speakers have pointed out errors in your meeting minutes. I have one more correction: to the best of my knowledge, Trustee Glen Toney was not present.
CSU has blamed external groups for “mob violence” and the “destruction of property.” CSU has blamed students for the breakage of one of the large glass entrance doors. However, videos posted on YouTube clearly show that the glass breakage was due to a police officer leaning against a baton that had been placed inside the door handle by one of the officers. There was no “mob violence.” There was a lack of planning and coordination on the part of the various police forces present.
CSU has a policy which I believe is still in effect--Executive Order 756--dealing with the use of weapons by campus police. This policy states that, when the situation requires that pepper spray be used, it should be sprayed in a one-second burst and should not be used repeatedly on an individual or for long periods of time. YouTube videos clearly show that CSU violated its own policy.
I would like to join with other speakers who are calling for an independent review of the November 16 board meeting.
The CSU needs to make board meetings more participatory and more respectful. Documents, such as amendments to board motions and PowerPoint presentations used in board meetings, should be shared with the audience and put online.
In closing, I would like to thank President Hirshman and Chancellor Reed for backing off proposed actions against two student protestors from San Diego State.
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