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

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

On July 1, San Diego State College announced that the freshly-signed condition funds commits $80 million to SDSU’s Imperial Valley campus for “a remarkable growth in STEM education and research.”

On the exact same day (not coincidentally, the Friday in advance of a holiday weekend, the most effective time for dropping undesirable news), the California Faculty Union advised its customers that the budget also contains an uncomfortable shock: Gov. Gavin Newsom, Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon agreed between themselves to strip the CSU spending plan of $100 million.

The new budget amount suggests that the salary elevate supposedly signed, sealed, and sent in the hottest agreement, a increase that need to have been 4%, is now 3%. At a time when inflation, the maximum since 1981, is jogging at 8.6%, Newsom, Atkins and Rendon determined to crack the deal negotiated with the union, and set CSU faculty even farther at the rear of. Their bad religion does not bode very well for foreseeable future deal negotiations.

Nor did the CSU administration stage up to defend its school. We normally listen to from our leaders about how grateful they are for the fantastic work school do for our pupils. In her May possibly 26, 2022, electronic mail to the CSU faculty, for illustration, interim-Chancellor Jolene Koester praised “the get the job done, consideration and care you supply every day,” and how “it will be a single of my maximum priorities — and biggest joys — to aid and shine a mild on your exceptional do the job.”

But did Koester struggle to sustain the already much too-minimal elevate? Not as significantly any individual can notify. Instead the Board of Trustees is concentrated on raising their have salaries.

Previous year, Trustee Jean Firstenberg characterized boosting their compensation as “a single of the most important issues as a board that we can discuss,” and the board accepted a system for raises up to 10% a yr for a few yrs.

When you place these two bulletins collectively, it’s tricky not to see that the point out is employing resources initially earmarked for school salaries to fork out for the growth of the Imperial Valley campus. And the CSU administration, whose original wage offer was 2% this yr and none subsequent calendar year, is completely satisfied to go together.

“Expansion,” however, is not very the appropriate term, simply because the Imperial Valley campus does not have any STEM (“science, technologies, math, and engineering”) programs. As of fall 2021, the campus serves just 951 students, and its science program is composed of precisely three majors: homeland protection (16 graduate learners) mathematics (13 undergrads) and psychology (258 undergrads). No physics, biology, chemistry, engineering, pc science, mining or metallurgy.

The system supposedly “ties into local pleasure over prospects for extracting lithium, identified underground around the Salton Sea.” But the plans that will, in theory, serve the lithium sector will have to have be constructed from the floor up, and it is unclear if there will be ample pupil desire to justify the price.

In addition, there is California’s new flat-charge tax on lithium which, Reuters studies, “will delay deliveries of the electric car battery steel to Normal Motors and Stellantis and may possibly push some mining businesses to exit the state fully.” So there is some doubt the lithium business will even exist.

As soon as again, you have to question at the priorities of the people working the CSU. San Diego State University has key infrastructure troubles: a crumbling library, roofs that want changing, lecture rooms that need updates, elevators in determined will need of maintenance. But in its place of addressing these wants, the university will invest $80 million —money, recall, that need to have funded faculty salaries — to create from nothing at all a STEM application for a tiny outpost that serves 1/35th the university student body the key campus serves.

Probably, showering money on the Imperial Valley campus can make for fantastic politics. But does it make economical or instructional sense?

Both way, the CSU school surely really should not have to fund it with a spend reduce. 

Peter C. Herman is professor of English literature at San Diego Point out University. He has printed on Shakespeare, Milton and the literature of terrorism, and has published essays in Salon, Inside of Better Ed, as effectively as Moments of San Diego. His most new ebook is “Unspeakable: Literature and Terrorism from the Gunpowder Plot to 9/11” (Routledge, 2020).