Consider this my application for president of San Diego State University. I realize the $50,000 bonus you generously handed President Elliot Hirshman no doubt demonstrates your approval for our new president. But given the opportunity, I’m confident I’d prove just as valuable as Hirshman in these first days of office: I’ve always prided myself on my “walking into an office” ability, and I possess the resolve to declare that things are going to get better at SDSU.
Given Hirshman’s short tenure as our president, you’ve proven that’s all it takes to deserve such a raise in salary. Based on these worthwhile traits — the only traits Hirshman has yet exemplified in office — I do believe I could give our new president a run for his money.
As you may realize — or perhaps don’t, given the fact tuition at SDSU has nearly doubled in the last four years, and you gents just approved to increase it another 12 percent — it’s tough times for us students. I myself work two jobs and receive a rather trifling amount of financial aid through Cal Grants and Pell Grants, but I still struggle to afford rent and the mounting tuition of this fine university.And I don’t pretend I am any sort of rarity in doing so; there are thousands of students across this campus who undoubtedly find themselves in a similar situation.
I think I can speak for all of them when I say we agree wholeheartedly in your decision to so prodigiously increase our tuition, and we admire your courageous decision to speak with us before voting on Hirshman’s bonus. Surely, there is no better place that money could go to than a man making $100,000 more than the governor of California.
We don’t question your decision to reward our incoming president at the beginning of his tenure, rather than applying it in the future based on job performance. A lesser man might suggest there are factors beyond money that would motivate Hirshman to be a good leader: prestige, honor, power, security and the chance of getting a bonus down the line. But clearly, that man doesn’t understand California’s currently bullish economy. (Nor does that man have $1,000 a month to contribute for vehicle expenses and a recently renovated million dollar house near campus to rent out for free, but what’s the harm in a few more perks for the highest paid president in the CSU system?)
But I’ve given you enough of my well-deserved praise, members of the board. It’s high time I offered my (albeit somewhat more serious) advice to the big man himself. Hirshman, you’re coming to our campus at a pivotal point in our school’s history. And you’re not coming to us empty-handed. You possess experience, a great deal of intelligence and perhaps most importantly, a damn good amount of potential. But that’s just it — as it stands now, it’s only potential: potential to be good, potential to be bad or potential to be mediocre. Who’s to say which?
It wouldn’t be fair to blame you for your salary increase. Honestly, it wouldn’t — you had little to no say in that decision. But you have to understand that, for the thousands of students like me who work fervently at crap jobs that pay crap money merely for the ability to attend SDSU, it’s absolutely a slap in the face. And I believe rightly so. The CSU Board of Trustees defended its actions by bravely stating that you have to spend more to get more. Believe it or not, the board’s absolutely right. The president who preceded you did a magnificent job, and he did that job for $100,000 less. Surely, a person performing at the same level of integrity deserves nothing less — but nothing more, until his performance demonstrates otherwise.
Know this: Receiving this bonus during a time of such strife for us students has done nothing to further any respect or devotion to you. It has done nothing to reach across the aisle. And it says nothing about who you are, aside from subtly suggesting you’re in it only for the money. But donating a year’s bonus to the school, to the students or even to the salaries of police on campus who haven’t seen a raise in six years, that would mean something. Let’s be honest — $100,000 in what will most likely end up being two decades in office is nothing. But showing students you hold us to a higher standard? Sounds like the beginning of a beautiful new friendship.
Agree? Disagree? Have something to say? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.
—Chris Pocock is a journalism senior.
—The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec.