Did anyone else see this? Anybody else take notice on Monday? It was both shocking and yet completely expected. Unusual and yet blandly familiar: Walking through campus the first day of class this year felt a lot like it did last year.
The fraternity guys gathered proudly at their painted booths. Campus organizations handed out candy and fliers to recruit new members. Some wanted to spread the word of Jesus, others spread the word of marijuana legalization.
Even better, this year we all got to stroll past a brand-new library, the first full year it will be open. The place is beautiful, complete with a jumbotron, a nice tower and over a million books on the bottom floor.
Had someone come from another planet they might have no idea that each student walking around had paid around 30 percent more to attend Fresno State this year than last. It wouldnâ€™t be apparent that over 1,000 classes had been canceled. And they surely would be lost on the faculty and staff furloughs, which stipulate that all California State University employees must take two days off every month without pay.
Who wouldâ€™ve believed one year ago that these crazy figures would become the hard facts of our lives? We would expect riots in the streets, overturned cars and a second Bolshevik revolution right here in California with news like that.
And yet life goes on more or less the same as it did then. We all got the money somehow, be it credit cards or savings or sacrifice. Where did all that money go last year? How are we still living without it?
President Welty mentioned the furloughs in his address to students, which ran in this newspaper on Monday. Curiously, he put quotation marks around the word, implying that they somehow arenâ€™t real or are just a rumor you might have heard like Pat Hill shaving off the â€˜stache or the king of pop being murdered (like anybody would believe that anyway).
Of course, the furloughs really are a bit of an illusion. There is no stipulation in the agreement that professors have any less work to do, they are simply expected to do it in less working days. Not only can they not come to campus on designated furlough days, they are contractually prohibited from working harder on surrounding days to make up the difference.
This isnâ€™t to complain. The money simply isnâ€™t there anymore, and I like the sound of â€˜furloughâ€™ much more than â€˜system-wide ten-percent pay cutâ€™.
For those that feel they have a solution, there is a wonderful opportunity to have your voice heard this morning at 11 a.m. in the free speech area. Many exciting ideas should be exchanged, and maybe the spectacle will be as crazy as those town hall meetings you see on TV. But there arenâ€™t many old white people in our student body, so I kind of doubt it.
The great Sir Isaac Newton said way back in 1696, â€œCredit is a present remedy against poverty and like the best remedies in physics works strongly and has a poisonous quality.â€
Over 300 years later we still havenâ€™t learned our lesson. But just from walking through campus you might get the impression that things really arenâ€™t so bad after all.