Ken's Voyages Around the Sun

Daily Sundial
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Today our campus newspaper, Daily Sundial, published a one-article, super-size issue 30 pages long. It consists solely of name and salary information for everyone on campus. It makes for enlightening reading in some parts, although unsurprising it others.

As employees of the state, all of this information is publicly available in our library but it seems to me that the newspaper's really bucking for some exposure by publishing it in such a blatant way. It will be interesting to see what comes of this over the next few days with campus re-opening after spring break.

Here's what the editor says:

When we published an article near the end of last semester that detailed the large difference between two professors' salaries, it created an uproar at one Faculty Senate meeting, which was a wake-up call for all of us. Knowledge is power: Faculty members throughout the California State University system need equitable pay. Some professors are paid handsomely for their work, and rightfully so; others are paid wages that cannot keep up with the cost of living, and this is intolerable. As we went to print in the week before spring break, the CSU and California Faculty Association were gearing up for new negotiations, and may have reached a settlement by today. With this in mind, however, we are aware that there will still be discrepancies in pay regardless of what outcome the CSU and CFA reach.

There has been some debate as to both when and why to publish the following list of salaries in the Sundial. Professors and other employees could be angry; some people might not see the point of it. The list includes all CSUN employees, because the university does not provide separate lists for faculty, staff and administrators.

We have considered alternative ways to get the information to the CSUN community, but agreed that this issue was our best option.

Are we concerned about the fallout? For us, the gains of running this list far outweigh the risks. To create needed change, big gestures are needed; this is ours.

Rather than dividing faculty, we hope that these salaries will begin a dialogue that has been needed on this campus - and throughout this university system - for a very long time.

Making salary information public can both solve problems and create them. People can get upset when they find out others make more than they do, or they can take action to try to obtain equality.

They can also get mad or resentful. Is it better to be resentful in such cases about known amounts, or would that resentment happen (as much) even if it was only guessed or assumed that someone else made more?

What about the other way? Does the new certain knowledge create a better-than-thou attitude? Does it provide incentive to earn a degree to come up to par with someone? Does it provide incentive to leave altogether?

Should the Sundial have done this?


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