Opinion: Is SDSU’s Imperial Valley Campus a Boondoggle in the Making?


SDSU Imperial Valley
The San Diego Condition University campus in Imperial County. Courtesy SDSU

On July 1, San Diego Condition College declared that the newly-signed point out funds commits $80 million to SDSU’s Imperial Valley campus for “a remarkable expansion in STEM education and analysis.”

On the exact same day (not coincidentally, the Friday prior to a vacation weekend, the ideal time for dropping lousy information), the California College Union explained to its members that the price range also contains an uncomfortable surprise: Gov. Gavin Newsom, Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon agreed amid themselves to strip the CSU spending budget of $100 million.

The new spending budget amount suggests that the wage raise supposedly signed, sealed, and shipped in the most up-to-date deal, a elevate that should really have been 4%, is now 3%. At a time when inflation, the optimum due to the fact 1981, is functioning at 8.6%, Newsom, Atkins and Rendon resolved to crack the deal negotiated with the union, and place CSU school even farther at the rear of. Their lousy faith does not bode nicely for upcoming contract negotiations.

Nor did the CSU administration step up to defend its school. We typically hear from our leaders about how grateful they are for the fantastic function faculty do for our learners. In her May possibly 26, 2022, electronic mail to the CSU college, for example, interim-Chancellor Jolene Koester praised “the do the job, notice and care you produce every single day,” and how “it will be one of my best priorities — and best joys — to support and glow a light on your outstanding do the job.”

But did Koester combat to sustain the by now as well-lower elevate? Not as far everyone can inform. Instead the Board of Trustees is targeted on boosting their own salaries.

Very last 12 months, Trustee Jean Firstenberg characterized increasing their compensation as “a person of the most essential concerns as a board that we can discuss,” and the board accredited a system for raises up to 10% a calendar year for three many years.

When you place these two bulletins with each other, it is tough not to see that the point out is using funds originally earmarked for school salaries to spend for the growth of the Imperial Valley campus. And the CSU administration, whose original wage offer was 2% this 12 months and none next calendar year, is completely delighted to go alongside.

“Expansion,” nevertheless, is not fairly the proper phrase, due to the fact the Imperial Valley campus does not have any STEM (“science, technological know-how, math, and engineering”) programs. As of tumble 2021, the campus serves just 951 students, and its science software consists of precisely 3 majors: homeland safety (16 graduate college students) arithmetic (13 undergrads) and psychology (258 undergrads). No physics, biology, chemistry, engineering, computer system science, mining or metallurgy.

The method supposedly “ties into neighborhood excitement over potential customers for extracting lithium, observed underground in the vicinity of the Salton Sea.” But the courses that will, in principle, serve the lithium market will will need be developed from the floor up, and it is unclear if there will be sufficient scholar demand from customers to justify the cost.

In addition, there is California’s new flat-fee tax on lithium which, Reuters reports, “will hold off deliveries of the electric vehicle battery metallic to Typical Motors and Stellantis and might force some mining providers to exit the condition solely.” So there is some question the lithium industry will even exist.

The moment once more, you have to speculate at the priorities of the persons working the CSU. San Diego State University has big infrastructure troubles: a crumbling library, roofs that need to have changing, school rooms that have to have updates, elevators in desperate need to have of restore. But alternatively of addressing these requirements, the university will expend $80 million —money, try to remember, that need to have funded college salaries — to create from nothing at all a STEM system for a very small outpost that serves 1/35th the college student system the primary campus serves.

Likely, showering dollars on the Imperial Valley campus will make for excellent politics. But does it make fiscal or educational perception?

Both way, the CSU faculty absolutely ought to not have to fund it with a shell out minimize. 

Peter C. Herman is professor of English literature at San Diego Point out College. He has released on Shakespeare, Milton and the literature of terrorism, and has published essays in Salon, Inside Larger Ed, as well as Times of San Diego. His most the latest e-book is “Unspeakable: Literature and Terrorism from the Gunpowder Plot to 9/11” (Routledge, 2020).


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