For those of you unaware, the University of California system is facing massive cuts in funding as part of California's new budget. Because, you know, cutting funding to some of the top public schools in the country - UC Berkeley, Los Angeles, and San Diego - is a totally sound economic move. As a result of this, the schools are making drastic cutbacks in local admissions (favoring those from out of state and country who pay much more), courses offered, and in professor pay. In addition, undergraduate student fees are expected to rise by over $10,000/yr, which coupled with the state's cutbacks in college grants means a lot of people are going to be forced to drop out, mainly those of low income families, which means - big surprise - losing a lot of minority students in a system which already falls woefully short in the area of ethnic diversity. I know some very good, conscientious students who may be forced to drop out because of this.The Guardian wrote:In the sweltering California heat with their placards, posters, red armbands and chants of "no cuts, no fees, education should be free", the demonstrators packed in to Sproul Plaza at the centre of University of California Berkeley campus today meant business.
The crowd cheered and passing cars hooted as speakers implored them to fight state authorities' plans to hike student fees and lay off workers.
Daniella, a petite second-year Latina undergraduate sitting quietly in the shade echoed what many making the rallying calls were articulating. "My whole life I wanted to come here. If they increase the fees I will have to drop out. We have to fight this."
The Berkeley protest was one of many held across California in an unprecedented day of action directed at university authorities and state governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger as he attempts to curb the state's multibillion-dollar budget crisis. Faculty, students and unions from the University of California's 10 campuses including its two most prestigious, UCLA and Berkeley, joined forces in what was the biggest student protest for more than a generation.
Most important all this is the looming threat of near total privatization, which threatens to turn the entire system away from its original intent, which was to offer top-quality education to all those who qualified academically, regardless of economic class, to yet another collection of schools that only the rich can afford to attend.
But I guess crippling the education is more acceptable, politically, than raising taxes. We take pride in having some of the best universities in the world, yet we shit on them at every opportunity.