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Letter to the Editor: Althea Waites

Althea Waites, Keyboard Faculty

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After several months of deliberation and soul-searching, I have decided to go on strike along with my colleagues at Cal State Long Beach and numerous faculty members at California State University campuses throughout the state.

This was certainly not an easy decision for me because I am deeply committed to teaching and mentoring the students I work with, and I am concerned about how this action will affect them. I am also terribly dismayed and outraged regarding the chancellor’s refusal to negotiate a settlement with the California Faculty Association, and his position on the issue is a shameful commentary on his lack of respect for CSU faculty, staff and students.

I have been a part-time lecturer on the music faculty for 21 years, and my history as a teacher and concert artist extends to 50 years of experience. I was the first woman in my family to go to college, and I was fortunate enough to have scholarships for both undergraduate and graduate study. My family made numerous sacrifices so that I could have a world-class education, and my experience is definitely similar to what my students are going through at this moment.

The current labor crisis is not only about the chancellor’s 2 percent offer; it is also about the quality of education at CSU campuses. Approximately 50 percent of all classes are taught by part-time/adjunct faculty who are forced to take additional jobs in order to support themselves and their families, and I was shocked to listen to heartbreaking stories during the Nov. 17, 2015 demonstrations about many part-time faculty going to food banks and using food stamps because they were unable to make ends meet on meager salaries.

I also have a second job as organist and choir director, and without that income, I could not survive and have a decent quality of life.

In addition, I must say that the chancellor’s position is hypocritical and completely disingenuous. He claims that we must “live within our means”, but that flies in the face of the current situation and the gross inequality of wealth in the nation. CSU executives have given themselves 10 to 15 percent raises over several years while part-time faculty and staff are continually underpaid and overworked.

The CFA 5 percent proposal is a modest step toward repairing some of the horrific damage that has occurred over many years of wage stagnation and negative purchasing power, and while I don’t want to strike, I strongly feel that after 21 years, I’ve seen enough… it’s time to act.

I will strike on behalf of many colleagues who are struggling, for students who want a better way of life, and for everyone who will stand and support our cause.

 

Althea Waites, Lecturer

Keyboard Faculty

Bob Cole Conservatory @ CSULB

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Letter to the Editor: Althea Waites

  1. Glenn on March 21st, 2016 11:54 am

    Great article.

    Students: Stand with your faculty during the strike! Students and faculty unite against the administration’s greed!! The CSU administration has no problem giving themselves fat salaries, give the faculty their measly 5%.

    [Reply]

  2. Scc on March 23rd, 2016 7:17 am

    Students make up your own mind. My ex husband made 90k a year and he only taught 3 classes.

    [Reply]

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