Update: After three nights of back cramps, the students released a joint “Statement in Defense of Public Education” with President Gordon this afternoon. The difference, according to the Times: It “does not outline any policy initiatives or make any promises regarding the university budget.” In other words, it's a bunch of warm bologna. At least they perfected their downward dogs? The Daily Titan Twitpics the whole lot — lookin' toned and triumphant.
Updated after the jump: Fullerton kids still in the building! However, negotiations begin. And: why the President won't sign the original declaration.
A group of 50-odd CSU Fullerton students and staff become the latest media darlings of California's public-education crisis this partly cloudy Tuesday morning, having just spent one valiant night staked out in the chilly corridors of Langsdorf Hall.
The sit-in was in reaction to a major snub by CSUF President Milton Gordon, who — to add insult to rising student fees and dwindling course offerings — currently makes $300,000 per year. When asked to add his signature to a feel-good “Declaration to Defend Public Education” last night…Gordon refused, and instead offered his own declaration, according to City News Service.
The Daily Titan, CSUF's campus newspaper, posted a video of the awkward encounter in the wee hours this morning:
“We're willing to work with you if you're willing to work with us as well,” says one female student at the roundtable.
No such luck. Gordon's apparently not a big fan of things like “increased funding for public education” and “learning environments that inspire creativity and self-discovery.” (Dude seems to be more comfortable with watered-down Pizza With the President Q&As.)
The California State University system is facing another $500 million in cuts under Governor Brown's harsh new plan to bring California out of the red.
The students' declaration, in part:
We, the students, staff, and educators of California's public schools, colleges, and universities, call upon the people of the state to recommit to and reinvest in public education as the principal foundation of a democratic society.
Public education is a sacred trust and needs to be protected from those who would see the state divest even further from its constitutional obligations.
We're not sure what the very stressed-looking president is scared of, exactly; the student declaration makes no promises nor points to any specific solutions. Would have been a pretty great opportunity for good press/public relations, if you ask us. Instead, the campus is flooded with local news stations — ABC, FOX, KTLA — hot on the story of the poor, disenfranchised students and the A-hole administrator who brushed them off like pesky flies.
One apparent student Tweeted a photo of a news truck, adding, “the spectacle edges closer.” Others weren't so in on the action:
KNX news radio reports that Cal Poly Pomona and CSU L.A., both recent hosts to similar rallies, have announced they're standing in solidarity with the Fullerton sitters, whatever that means. CSU Sacramento students just came out of their own days-long protest against the increasingly ridiculous CSU tuition, as well. Stay tuned for updates on the fight at Fullerton.
Footage of the Langsdorf Hall pillow pile and morning-after yoga (really guys?):
Update, April 20, 4:45 p.m.: The OC Register reports that Silas Abrego, acting vice president of student affairs, has gotten the ball rolling by proposing some edits to the declaration. Meanwhile, everyone's still sprawled out with all their sleepover shit from Night 2 of the sit-in.
A little peek into recent activities at Langsdorf:
OK — these punks are having way too much fun.
CSUF spokeswoman Paula Selleck clarifies to the Weekly that the declaration handed to President Gordon on Monday was not the same one circulating on the Internet.
She says the letter students wanted him to sign was addressed to the CSU Board of Trustees, and included the not entirely accurate clause, “As if to add insult to injury, the chancellor refuses to bargain for fair contracts with the faculty and staff who serve students.”
Selleck points out that there are, indeed, negotiations in progress with labor unions, though “there may be a difference of opinion as to how they're going.”
She gets a little heated: “If you were a university president, would you sign that document?”
In any case, we do hope protestors thought ahead for a well-stocked for 4/20 today. Because what's a yoga-fied student protest without a little peace pipe to help everyone think real deep about all the big societal lessons they're learning?
Originally posted April 19 at 9 a.m.