On the grand opening of Snapdragon Stadium, the student section’s most memorable noise was not the roar after the first touchdown. It was the booing of President de la Torre’s introduction.
Students have become increasingly frustrated with administration in recent years, and it is not without warrant. There have been numerous missteps taken that have negatively affected the experience of students.
As passionately driven members of student leadership, we do our best everyday to work towards bettering student life. Unfortunately, we have found that everything we do is constantly limited and capped by the actions of higher administration.
It has come to our attention that dealing with Equitable Access has been a struggle for many in our SDSU community. The unsteady transition to EA has proven to be a microcosm of the greater issues plaguing SDSU administration and its relations with students. From the outset, students were neither consulted nor given proper warning on the intent of making the switch from Immediate Access to Equitable Access. Many professors are struggling to navigate the switch for themselves, limiting support to students. For over two years before the announcement, the university had been in talks with publishers for the change, which is something we feel students should have known about and had an opportunity to voice their concerns.
Not only should students have been notified prior, but once the system was put into place, there should have been much better communication for student awareness. As an opt-out program, which most students aren’t even aware that they paid for, Equitable Access provides students with a choice between what feels like the lesser of “two evils.” Stay opted-in and pay an overpriced per-unit fee, or expend their time and energy, which students already lack, and find textbooks at full price. The students whose voices we are amplifying have also expressed concern of the financial burden the switch has put on them.
To our knowledge, there is only one other school in the nation that has an Equitable Access program: UC Davis, the former employer of President de la Torre.
Although this alone has already impacted student success significantly, we wish that this was the only misstep that SDSU administration has taken.
Just as students were suddenly expected to handle a massive change to the way they pay for course materials, SDSU decided to move away from the time-tested and relatively user-friendly WebPortal to my.SDSU. It has an interface and usability taken straight from 1998. Many expressed their confusion, fear, and concerns of not being able to navigate or understand the new system in the understaffed student financial center’s “Understanding Student Billing and Disbursements” webinars this past summer.
We have personally witnessed over one-hundred thousand dollars of approved funding be withheld from student organizations because of a lack of administrative structure with the Student Success Fee, resulting in a $500 per student fee getting tucked away for future use. We worry about the financial burden this can inflict on our future students.
Between de la Torre’s inauguration and the “125th celebration” rebranding, over $330,000 was spent. Most students would agree that this is a poor allocation of funds.
All this while the university repeatedly asks for more fees and donations from students and alumni. It is clear there is a ridiculous amount of misallocation of funds that could be used to actually achieve their goal.
In a bid to increase campus revenues and inflate SDSU’s reputation on the national and global stage, fundraising and lobbying efforts have largely focused on new infrastructure projects. They chose to prioritize SDSU Mission Valley instead of funding improvements and repairs of existing structures. It seems as though there is a push to bring in as many students as possible instead of helping support the students who already are here.
Misallocation of funds caused SDSU to fall dangerously behind in everything from maintenance of facilities to securing the best pay and benefits for our faculty, staff, and — especially — student workers.
The state of the library exemplifies negligence like no other. There is no greater hypocritical action taken by the administration than to strive and claim to be a “Top Research University” while simultaneously disregarding maintenance on the library for over a decade.
In regards to faculty and student workers, the former have witnessed their pay raises fail to catch up with inflation, and the latter have seen vast cuts to both hours and, in the case of Teacher’s Assistants, benefits. All the while, top level administration gets unprecedented raises and overall salaries.
We would be remiss if we did not mention the intersection of College football and the recent sexual assault case that was filed in the County of San Diego. For those who know anything about how the NCAA perates, college football is the cash cow of all athletics. The naming rights, sponsorships, and specifically the television rights are fought over by NBC, CBS, FOX, and ESPN every year to have coverage of hot ticket games. The Aztecs finished in the AP Top 25 for just the third time, and won their seventh bowl game out of fifteen appearances since 1969. So how can you expect not just students, but the general public, to believe that the administration did not protect the individuals of the team for the sake of its hot ticket football season? The protection of star players at other big name schools such as Notre Dame, LSU, and Penn State all come up in a simple internet search, what the SDSU administration did is unfortunately nothing new. At a time when our community should be able to turn to our University’s resources for help amid all the violence around us, it seems all the administration continues to care about is lining their pockets.
All of these reasons and more is why our team created ChangeSDSU. We wanted to create a public platform that allowed students to have their voices be heard and reassure them there are many people experiencing the same issues with administration. We opened a survey to let students do just that. We have already received over 100 unique stories, some of which we have discussed in this OpEd, and more that we have highlighted on our page. We want to take the students’ voice and translate it into tangible action. But this movement is much bigger than just the people behind ChangeSDSU. Students have a collective disagreement on Admins actions. We want to establish a physical presence on campus to show that together, everyones has the power to make real change. But we are just a few students leading this campaign in our sparse spare time, and we need help. If you are interested in helping, please reach out to us on our Instagram, @ChangeSDSU.
We understand that it would be extremely difficult to fix the hundreds of problems that each student has, but it is unequivocally wrong for SDSU administration not to open their ears and listen. Not just to us, but to the needs of its ENTIRE community, from its students, to its faculty and staff.
–Sean Stouffer, Tito Hernandez, Alexander Inglis
Admins of @ChangeSDSU