FORT COLLINS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Thursday, Colorado State University workers rallied at the CSU Fort Collins campus for fair standards, pay, and treatment. The rally started at noon outside a University Board of Governors meeting.
Three Colorado State University-Pueblo employees made their way up north for the rally to speak to the board about the unique needs and challenges their institution is facing. Largely having to do with university priorities, which they say need to be redirected.
"I don't want it to come off that it's just about salary, but that's a huge part of it," CSU-Pueblo Media and Entertainment Chair and Associate Professor Jon Pluskota said. "We are grossly underpaid compared to national statistics.
CSU faculty and staff from across the state say they have been overworked and undervalued by the university for years, and are fighting for the compensation and working conditions that they deserve. They're protesting the university's budget, demanding better wages, cost of living adjustments, and affordable tuition.
"Specifically looking at our faculty and academic staff salaries," Pluskota said. "Correcting some of the compression and inversion issues that have made it difficult for us to retain or recruit faculty."
Specifically for CSU-Pueblo, staff said the salary for their faculty is not livable, requiring some staff members to seek a second job or additional income.
"There's an assistant professor who has to donate plasma to make ends meet," Pluskota said.
Another challenge is academic resources, including outdated facilities and classrooms.
"Faculty are perplexed why $400,000 is spent on a sign on campus, and we have classrooms that have desks that are not ADA compliant, furniture from the 80s that's falling apart," Pluskota said. "We have to piecemeal our learning environments and then we're tasked with recruiting students."
They say change needs to happen so the university can invest in its faculty and students to better recruit and retain them.
"The emphasis is, there's a focus on how do we recruit students, how do we increase enrollment, how do we create an environment that retains our students," Pluskota said. "It comes down to our faculty interactions. Students are paying for the expertise of faculty, the experience with faculty. They come to CSU-Pueblo because faculty are accessible."
According to faculty, CSU-Pueblo is a Hispanic-serving institution and largely consists of first-generation students. Resources getting cut or pulled back from academics pose challenges for the Pueblo campus.
Employees are saying changes have been made. But they're not getting to the core of the problem.
"There needs to be accountability and transparency with how funding is being spent," Pluskota said.
They're hoping to spread awareness to the board of CSU-Pueblo's challenges and needs and invite them to come down to the campus and see for themselves.
"Vision 2028 is a step in the right direction but academics has seen a very small fraction of that funding," Pluskota said. "There have been misdirected funding priorities in the eyes of faculty, in the eyes of staff, students, and community members. We are trying to present this to the Board of Governors and say while there are visible changes that may be taking place, they're not getting to the core of our needs. Which is investment in academics and our faculty. Which in turn will result in investment in our students. Better retention, recruitment, and creating an environment that is welcoming to faculty and students alike."