Now is not the time to build President García’s fence

In Opinion
Mike Trujillo / Daily Titan
Mike Trujillo / Daily Titan

The effects of the global financial crisis and ensuing state budget defecit will vary depending on who you ask.

Student enrollment for spring 2013 was limited to transfer students who completed designated associate degrees, according to the Orange County Register.

Some students still remember the time when then-president Milton A. Gordon issued six furlough days, due to the economic difficulties of the state. Students were given alternative assignments to supplement the class time they missed.

Despite this, the Cal State University Board of Trustees has approved the use of $153,000 from campus funds to build a fence around President Mildred García’s official residence and other security upgrades. These funds have been acquired through “campus interest earnings,” also known as interest from CSU operating funds, according to Michael Uhlenkamp from the Office of the Chancellor.

Just last year, Cal State Fullerton spent $300,000 on repairs for the C. Stanley Chapman house (the house García currently resides in), a decision that brought quite a bit of heat to the university.

The house was overdue for repairs, according to university officials. Apart from minor maintenance, major renovations had not been done since 1951.

In addition to the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on the house, García also received a 10 percent pay raise, free housing at the residence, and a $12,000-per-year car allowance.

Outrage naturally ensued among students who felt all of that money being spent sent the wrong message during a time when tuition was skyrocketing and classes were being cut.

With the approval of building a fence around García’s residence, the Board of Trustees has yet again shown where their true priorities lie.

In a time when the state’s economic climate has made it increasingly difficult for students to graduate and find livable wages, García’s privacy is much more important. It may be true that houses need maintenance, and it’s nice to have a new kitchen, or a bathroom remodel, but this remodel comes at the worst possible time. The failure of senior administrators to object to this extravagance raises the question of what administrators really care about. As unfortunate as it is, this seems to be a recurring theme within our university: Priorities are always directed towards the top executives and not toward the students.

During the Board of Trustees meeting, Trustee Steven M. Glazer questioned whether alternative means of funding for the maintenance related to the presidential residence could be explored.

This was an attempt to retain the greatest amount possible of public monies to allocate to campuses, according to a transcript taken of the meeting.

Apparently, fundraising had been discussed as an alternative method but it wouldn’t be possible. CSU Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer Benjamin F. Quillian, Ph.D., said the board needed to “move quickly” because of the “immediate nature of the repairs.” Not only will there be a fence built, but an intercom, camera, keypad and remote opener will also be included, funded by the campus’ interest earnings.

Though the state is no longer in a deficit, students are continuing to feel the effects of budget cuts.

It seems tone deaf, then, that the Board of Trustees would approve funds to build a fence around the president’s property.

If CSUF had instead decided to allocate the $300,000 it spent on the initial renovation to scholarships for students, it could pay for 49 full scholarships.

The university claims it needs a residence such as the C. Stanley Chapman house, also known as El Dorado Ranch, to not only house its current president, but also to host annual receptions for international visitors, donors, alumni and community and campus members.

What is not being explained is why the facilities on campus are not suitable for those uses.

They, too, are in need of renovation.

If García does not feel safe living in the university’s mansion, perhaps she should find somewhere else to live.

She is making $324,000 a year; she can buy her own home.

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