Furloughs begin at California universities

August 10, 2009 6:36:04 PM PDT
California college students are feeling the effects of the employee furloughs that have started at both the Cal and state university systems. Most employees will have to take two unpaid days off a month from now until the end of the fiscal year in 2010.

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This means that the campuses are basically closed.

At the San Jose campus, the first furlough day affects everyone except the faculty because they are in between semesters. So, for example, the media relations director was not available to speak to ABC7 barring something urgent.

Students coming to San Jose State's computer lab were turned away at the door and the same thing occurred at the bookstore.

"Also, I stopped by the financial aid office and same thing. I was like 'Oh! I didn't realize it was closed,'" graduate student Marta Pineda told ABC7.

Pineda wanted to beat the rush before classes start August 24th. Instead, she wasted her time.

"We pay so much tuition. I was surprised. We had an increase too. I got an email about that. They sure warned you that you're going to get an increase of $400 per semester, but they don't warn you that the library is going to be closed. So, they owe me money for gas," she said.

However, the Cal State University system is out of money. Facing a $584 million deficit for this academic year, it will save $275 million through furloughs across the system.

"I've taught here since 1987, and if you look around this place, it should be bustling," said anthropology professor Jonathon Karpf. "Students should be buying books, buying lab supplies, art supplies, and the entire campus is closed today."

Karpf said the faculty will have three furlough days assigned in the fall and the spring terms, with 12 to 18 days worked out individually. But, he says it is the students who will suffer most.

"What we're witnessing is the complete dismantling of the California dream," he said.

He also says the state will suffer long-term effects using a lesson from anthropology to explain.

"The one thing you never do is you never eat your seed corn. You always set something aside for the future and what we're doing now is comparable to California eating its seed corn. We are completely undermining the ability of the state to grow itself out of this recession."

He refers to the notion of students coming through the systems, getting job training, and helping the economic engine making California the seventh largest economy in the world.

In San Jose, most staff will end up taking a total of 24 furlough days between now and June 30, 2010.

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