It has been a looong time since I last posted something here. Partly because I took a break (from writing, at least), partly because I had to move to my new settlement for the next few years (beautiful SoCal). To restart another period of (hopefully prolific) activity, I significantly revised the profile page of (mass)think! (the only work-related product of the summer, really). Think of it as, “What is (mass)think?” or better yet, “How to (mass)think?” the profile of an “approach” (attitude, methodology, purpose), as it were, which really is a record/reminder of the most important things I learned in grad school (so far).
I also want to take this opportunity to alert those who are concerned about quality and accessible public education in America that, in lieu of the present economic “crisis” (manufactured by them who are being bailed out while they were singing, “I can do this by myself! No government! No sociality!”), the University of California is being threatened to be privatized and turned into a business. A letter by UC Berkeley professor Catherine Cole provides a guide through the economic woes passed onto the excellent public university system (one of the best, if not the best, in the United States) and the administration’s tendentious response to it. UC San Francisco professor Stanton Glantz explains how UC and CSU budget policymaking works and assesses options and their consequences (looking at UM), pointing to the importance of the governor. UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff clarifies that privatization is the real issue. To take a stand against the destruction of public education in California, on September 24th, UC faculty, students, and staff from all ten campuses are planning a walkout.
The show Subversity on campus radio KUCI has been providing coverage of the UC budget crisis and planned worker response to it. Dan Tsang points to an earlier report (2002) by economist Peter Donohue on a history of the UC refusing to improve workers’ pay despite its ability to do so (more from its own revenues than state appropriations) without harming educational programs. Donohue also clarifies the distinction between “restricted” and “unrestricted” funds, pointing out that “committed” funds are not legally or contractually binding and that unrestricted funds have increased over the years, some of which have been non-mandatorily transferred (i.e. hidden).
More up-to-date analysis is provided by UC Berkeley Professor Emeritus in Physics Charles Schwartz at University Probe. Schwartz points out that for the proposed 2009-2010 budget, students’ financial input (2.5 billion) to the UC core operating budget actually matches the funds that come from the state (2.6 billion). If this is how things were to work, then the university, Schwartz reasons, ought to be more student-oriented. Calling attention to the fact that the administration is “cutting Teaching Assistants, who are graduate students employed as the first line in serving the educational needs of undergraduate students,” noting that “the total cost to UC for all TA’s [. . .] is between $100 million and $200 million per year, [. . . which] are peanuts compared to the total $1.5 billion that undergraduate students are paying in Educational Fees,” Schwartz remarks that “there is something wrong here.” The “$1.5 billion in money that [the UC] get[s] from undergraduate students paying their Educational Fees should be used – as a first priority – to provide the quality undergraduate education that UC has been famous for [including the hiring of excellent faculty and TAs]. If there is a dire shortage in state funding, that may certainly have some painful consequences; but since students are paying so much for their own education, that money must be used to supply them that education.”
Remaking the University links to a series of videos from the UC Budget Crisis Teach-In at UC Berkeley on 2009.09.14.
Defend-UCI links to a document by senior faculty from UC Irvine providing a “more informed understanding” of the UC crisis, highlighting UC contributions to California; property taxes that are too low (thanks to Proposition 13 in 1978) and corporate taxes that were cut, making the state dependent on individual income tax; the Schwarzenegger-Dynes-Reed Compact that shifts education finance away from the state general fund onto private sources; the governor demanding radical shrinkage of the pubilc sector (vowing “no new taxes,” instead calling for “structural reform”). More directly pertinent to the UC, the document explains the most recent reduction (2008-2009) in state support from $3.2 to $2.4 billion and the state of fiscal emergency declared by UC President Yudof as he imposed salary cuts, office restructurings, service reductions, administrative consolidations (“the net result has been a substantial and accelerating decline in the quality of students’ educational experience—growing class sizes, fewer courses, greater difficulty enrolling in courses, fewer teaching assistants, less student access to labs”; “The University of California – the greatest public university in the world — usually hires dozens of faculty members each year. Most campuses have had to declare a hiring freeze”) and recommended a net 30% increase in student fees over the next year (“with the proposed increases in student fees, the UC is still cheaper than its peers, [. . . but] to fully recoup from tuition [w]hat is being cut in state support, students would have to pay twice as much as they do now”).
Contact the media (TV, radio, blog) and ask them to cover the 9/24 UC walkout! My letter to Democracy Now!:
On September 24th professors, students, and staff are planning a system-wide walkout at the ten UC campuses to protest state cuts on education funding and make the UC, one of the best and few truly public universities in America, to be more reliant on student fees. Berkeley professor George Lakoff makes clear that the issue really is the privatization of the public university (http://keepcaliforniaspromise.org/?p=77), with consequences reaching far beyond California. Berkeley professor Charles Schwartz points out that for the proposed 2009-2010 budget, students’ financial input (2.5 billion) to the UC core operating budget actually matches the funds that come from the state (2.6 billion) (http://bit.ly/1yeT5f). The Donohue report (2002) shows that the UC has a history of refusing to improve workers’ pay despite its ability to do so (more from its own revenues than state appropriations) without harming educational programs (http://bit.ly/388pIH). UC Irvine senior faculty describes the salary cuts, office restructurings, service reductions, administrative consolidations, and tuition hikes imposed by UC president Yudof (http://bit.ly/1bYi1). Berkeley professors offer a teach-in on the crisis (http://bit.ly/2qmR0H). The LA Times and mainstream media in general has not covered this story. It has been mentioned in the Pacifica Evening Radio News, but in-depth coverage and analysis is lacking. Given the groundbreaking tradition of Democracy Now to bring news from the progressive ground, I’m sure it would be easy to find the professors mentioned above and ask them to explain these issues–pertinent to the whole nation, specifically to public education, which is dying–in a public and national forum. September 24th is an important day, because if the protests fall flat, then the UC administration would take it as a signal that they can do whatever they want, without input and, more importantly, significant resistance from faculty, staff, and students, the true lifeblood of the university. Please consider this request; do your part in taking a stand against the destruction of public education.
Plans of the different campuses for 9/24:
Rally on Sproul Plaza: 12-2pm
Join the UPTE (University Professional & Technical Employees) picket lines: All Day
On September 24, there will be a rally on the quad at 12:00, coordinating the faculty and student walkouts with the UPTE strike.
PLAN ON GOING TO CLASS- most of the faculty who support the “walkout” will actually be doing “teach-ins” where they spend the first few minutes of the lecture time discussing the budget crisis. Education is the key component of this movement. The teach-ins strive to make students more aware of the problems facing the UC and the walkout will draw the attention of the California public so make sure you take part in both activities.
Day of Action- UCI September 24, 2009 Events
9-10 am: Act Out Interactive Drama: Arts Plaza
9-12am: Morning Teach-ins within classes all over the campus…check back for information about classes and schedules
12 NOON RALLY AT THE FLAGPOLES: PLEASE COME SUPPORT UCI AND PROTEST THE BUDGET CUTS TO PUBLIC HIGHER ED IN CALIFORNIA.
FEATURING: SPEAKERS REPRESENTING STUDENTS, FACULTY AND WORKERS!
This is our major event of the day where we hope for a large crowd! If there is only one event you can make on 9/24/09, this should be your priority.
2-3pm: Rally in the Social Science Plaza
5-7pm: Evening Teach-ins: Humanities Gateway 1010
Thursday, September 24th, 2009.
Invite everyone you know.
No matter where you are, walk out. The party is brewin’ [bruin-get it?] at noon. Its about that time to not just continue the fight for a quality, affordable education but to also stand in solidarity with the rest of the state.
Join UCLA Undergraduates, Graduates, Faculty, Staff, and Workers as we rally at Bruin Plaza, march up to Murphy, and down to the picket lines. Its time for a strike!!
At UCM we will be
- Staffing a table in front the Koiligian Library from 10-3 PM
- Collecting signatures on a petition to be circulated throughout the UC community
- Encouraging students and faculty to walkout. Those who teach on September 24 may use their class time to hold a teach in on these issues.
Teach-in: Speakers, hip-hop theater, and rallies from 10am to 3pm.
Strike: UPTE, representing 12,000 University Professional and Technical Employees, will strike and picket on 9/24. At UCR, the picket line is at the campus entrance at Canyon Crest and University.
Faculty Walkout: Over 800 UC faculty, including 88 so far from UCR, have chosen to participate in the day’s activities.
Student support: The systemwide UC Students Association, which represents all graduate students and undergraduate student, has UNANIMOUSLY SUPPORTED THE WALKOUT.
The event will be held at the corner of Canyon Crest Drive and University Drive.
12 to 2 PM
8 AM to 8 PM in front of Storke Tower
8 AM to 8 PM at the base of campus
Update (2009.09.25): Reports on the protests/walkout
The Guardian reports that UC campuses erupted into protests
The LA Times reports that UC campuses have been hit by protests.
The Daily Californian, UC Berkeley’s university newspaper, offers live updates of what’s happening at Berkeley. The last thing they reported was that students locked themselves in the auditorium, but that UCPD were able to cut the locks
There is a Youtube video of the protest in UC Irvine.
KZSC, UC Santa Cruz’s campus radio, reports that the Graduate Student Commons has been occupied by students. There is a Facebook group in solidarity with the occupation at UC Santa Cruz. The occupiers also have a blog.
UC President Mark Yudoff tells the New York Times that “the shine is off of” education and that “it’s all an accident” how he got to education