Cal State Tuition Hikes Spark Degrees of Retorts, Positions

At the heart of professor Keith Boyum's jeremiad ("County Can't Afford Deeper Cuts at CSUF," Orange County Voices, March 17) about the cuts at CSUF is his contention that Orange County's largest university is presently unable "to serve all of the qualified students who seek higher education at CSUF."

If by qualified, professor Boyum means students who were among the top third of their high school's graduates, he is correct; however, to be truly qualified to "seek higher education," a student should have much more than a diploma from a present-day California high school.

First, to be qualified to enter a university, students must be adequately prepared to work at a high intellectual level. In my 27 years teaching at CSUF, only one in five of my students met that criterion. Second, to work successfully at such a level, students must maintain a fierce desire to be challenged intellectually; instead, most of my more than 5,000 students have either manifested a lack of interest in the "life of the mind" or have actually held it in contempt. At this point, it is customary to lay blame: It's the high schools; it's TV; it's the lack of family values; it's drugs or rap or junk food or peer pressure. Put them (and a host of other "evils") together and they add up to our society as a whole--a society which, given its domination by monopoly capitalism, needs automata and fears and despises those who are intellectually capable of challenging the status quo.

That CSUF is no longer able to meet the military-industrial complex's demand for automata is true, but that fact should not cause the morale of its faculty to suffer; on the contrary, it should embolden them to work toward undoing the farce we have all made of "higher education" at CSUF. If, in other words, the faculty really want to teach rather than to process students, they can use the deeper cuts in the CSUF budget as a sound reason for admitting only those students who are "qualified" in every sense of the word.


Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus

Cal State Fullerton

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World