Thursday, August 27, 2009

CSU Budget Crisis

Ok, so I attend a Cal State University school. A school that is in deep financial distress. This semester is unlike any other semester. Furlough days have been introduced. (I admit, I had to look up the actual meaning of 'furlough' - It means a temporary leave of absence.)

Student fees/tuition have just increased by a total of $300. On the first day of school, all my professors discussed that there would be certain days we'd have no classes. They would get a 10% pay cut, hence the reason why they will not come to work (the classroom) or be checking e-mails from students, etc. They will be doing zero work. This makes complete sense. Why work when they won't be getting paid for the days they have to miss?

Thinking that this is a bad situation (because every professor in the school is getting a 10% pay cut), one of my professors pointed out another issue. The professors already voted against tuition increases, but the tuition increases occurred anyway. But, if it weren't for every professor taking furlough days, the tuition increase rates would have been even more, according to one of my professors.

When I heard this, I thought to myself: What wonderful professors I have. What wonderful professors my school has. They are little fish in a big pond fighting for even littler fish: their students. When I heard this, I really, really admired the professors. I had no idea the CSU budget crisis and the state budget deficit hit home incredibly hard until a few days ago.

The budget crisis directly affects students, including myself. For example, the website of my school frequently doesn't work when I'm trying to pay fees, etc. Hence the reason why I've always paid fees in person (yet ironically, a big sign hovers over the students on a big window, urging us to 'Pay Online'... ah, if only technology worked all the time...)

Certain buttons like "submit" or "next" didn't work yesterday. Hence the need for IT, internet-savvy people. We cannot get rid of the IT people! We can't!

Oh, and the biggest downfall of all is that wait-lists have become obsolete (as far as I know) - in the past, when there have been physical spaces available in classes, and an enrolled person didn't show up the first week of school, they were dropped, and a permission code was given to person 1 and 2, etc, on the waitlist.

Furthermore, I have heard that enrollment will be down in the spring. This means that the school will probably accept fewer students.

And, students can only take 16 units or fewer per semester. What about the students who need to finish school asap and who want to take 17 units? Oh, well.

(There is an option, but that includes petitioning the school:

"If the student is a candidate for graduation for the fall 2009 term:
  1. The student must speak to their dept. advisor and get signature approval of the excess units on the excess unit request form. The form is available in ** (classroom # deleted)
  2. Attach a letter to the form explaining the situation and a copy of the [transcripts] confirming that this is the remaining outstanding requirement for graduation.
  3. The excess unit forms will be reviewed for possible processing for confirmed fall 2009 candidates if the approved excess units will complete the final course requirements for graduation. All of this is subject to Academic Affairs approval of processing any of the excess unit forms.

If the above supporting documentation is not attached, the excess unit request will not be considered."

After reading this e-mail, I just knew that after doing this work, it is probably unlikely that a signature will be garnered from an advisor, and that it will also be approved by the academic affairs entity...What is a student to do? The staff also have to take furlough days, and staff hours were already drastically reduced last semester.

Now, the professors say they have no control over the system (i.e. the all-powerful computer and the all-powerful school).

Apparently, the chancellor of the entire CSU and the Board of Trustees is responsible for this. Now, I wonder: According to, my school has about 37,130 students. Multiply 37,130 x $2,046 (new cost of tuition, excluding books, health fees, etc.) = $75,967,980.

Where the heck is this $75 million-plus going??? Why isn't this $75 million-plus money applied to the CSU financial crisis to drastically reduce the debt? And just think: there are 23 CSU campuses.

Something is severely wrong here: Where is all this money going?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Here is a post from another blog of mine: It's a water blog from a site called (and it's a wonderful site):

It seems as if most people would be able to understand that golf courses take a lot of water to keep the grass perfectly green.

But does anyone ever wonder, at least in Southern California, why our desert/Mediterranean landscapes are degraded and built over by contractors from who-knows-where?

I think it's funny how the natural landscapes are intercut with roads that are so-called "shortcuts." But then the shortcuts are intercut with other "shortcuts" and then the result is a stoplight every 20 feet. (Stop lights that, by the way, only stay green long enough to let one car go through.) Medians on the roads are created and planted with beautiul, tall mixes of trees and plants. Trees that sometimes look like they don't belong. Trees that look forest-y. Trees that are brought in from somewhere else to replace the trees that were just cut down.

Nature is demolished, and in turn, to compensate for the fact that buildings are built over the land, landscapers are hired to plant plants around the buildings. Plants that are too manicured-looking. Plants that don't go with the landscape. Plants that might not be drought-tolerant.

Southern California has an arid/semi-desert environment and it is NOT normal to bring in plant life that isn't from here. Plants that require less water/maintenance is a must. Does anyone care?

Why does every city in SoCal let developers come in and completely degrade nature?? Places where I took child-hood and teen walks are no more.

It is quite sad how SoCal is a concrete jungle. Does anyone care? Does anyone care enough to attend a city council meeting, or e-mail a city councilman?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Ecuadorian Adventures

Recently, I was in Ecuador for a very short time for certain reasons. Traveling to Ecuador for the first time was also the first time I had traveled to Latin America. It was a beautiful, poor country with incredibly friendly people. I did see a total of three gringos when I was there - a couple, and another lone traveler. But people there were very nice to me. Little kids would run up to me and ask me (of course in Spanish), "What is your name? Where are you from?" They were so adorable!

I stayed in a friend's husband's family's home. Most people there have store fronts attached to their homes, where bottled water, shampoo, soap, and some food is sold. CVS Pharmacy does not exist there. No big box stores like Ralphs, Target, or Kohls exist. The only fast food restaurant I saw was KFC in the Quito airport. Whole chickens (feet and all) are brought into homes, and slaughtered pigs hang in certain places around the town square. Being a vegetarian, I tried not to look repulsed, while I secretly told the dead animals, "I'm sorry you're dead." The sanitary conditions of Ecuador are not anything like the U.S.

Outside of most houses I saw, cement water basins existed. I think they were an old-school version of modern-day water basins, as if this water was for a rainy day. I was lucky when I took a shower with hot water.

Laundry is done, probably once a week, by laundry service companies, and all clothes are usually washed by hand. Even women who have washing machines usually scrub the clothes with soap and a sturdy, whisk brush. Drying machines don't exist there. The clothes are all hung up to dry, on clothes lines, usually on top of roofs. When I saw the landscape littered with litter (in certain areas), and squished, poor homes huddled too close together, I also saw lots of color - from the clothes hanging on the rooftops. Lots of stray cows and stray dogs roam the streets. They are friendly, but it was evident that no veterinarian clinics exist. I kept seeing a black dog, with a white chest, that only used three of its four legs. It broke my heart!

Every car is little and every car is a manual. While certain congested city areas made me think of a Latin American New York City, I thought: these people have it right. No one cuts each other off without the other driver wanting to hurt them. Everyone uses the signals on their cars. Most roads don't even have lane lines painted on them, yet all the cars never once hit each other (at least, I didn't see any accidents). The cars came awfully close to each other, but never hit each other.

I heard that people in Italy drive frantically, yet their cars and mopeds always screech to a halt - people will not run red lights. I think plenty of accidents happen there, here in California, and everywhere on the roads, but it's nice to think that at least people don't run red lights in Italy and in Ecuador.

Wearing seat belts in Ecuador is not a law. Some cars have them. Some cars don't. Maybe seat belts aren't necessary, because, well, they figure out how to not crash into each other. It is not illegal to drink beer while drivers are driving or passengers are passengers in a moving car.
I was very grateful to return home, because seeing Ecuador reminded me of how lucky I am. Yet, I think we Americans can learn a few things by traveling to Ecuador, too, or at least traveling a bit away from home.