Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Not Just Your Average Kibitzing Radical: Ways To Be In Touch With The Struggle At The University of California

"As California goes, so goes the nation," writes my correspondent Eileen Boris from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where a lot of the activism seems to be taking place. So get involved! Public education matters.

So if you can tear yourself away from the Sotomayor hearings, here are some links she sent me. The first is a petition to suspend the current budget-cutting strategy (which seems to be of the slash-and-burn variety) until a more participatory planning process can be organized. You will be asked to identify your relationship to the university; I wrote "friend of the University of California," and it accepted that designation.

For more on what organizers are currently up to, click here, and to get information about the California Board of Regents, click here.

And while you are at it -- find out what's being cut in your state. Reports submitted to Tenured Radical at hte email address in my profile will be published. If you wish to publish pseudonymously, you need to tell me who you are, but I'll keep it confidential.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, TR. I'm a regular reader and semi-regular commenter, but am posting anonymously this time to note that my own Cal State system is being hit with similar cuts. The difference here is the greater number of needy students who have faced 10% fee hikes every year for the past several years, and are facing a whopping 20% hike for 2009/10 alone. This, in addition to furloughs that will total a 9.5% pay cut for all faculty, staff, and administration, and a 10% across-the-board cut for the budgets of all units. And this, we are told, will take care of *half* the shortfall.

Old-timers in my department have long talked about how bad the early 90s were, but even they are saying that they've never seen anything quite this bad, and it's projected to get much worse. Yet the only revenue increase that Californians were offered was an increase in *sales tax*, and even that was tied to voting extraordinary power over the state budget to the governor, effectively bypassing the legislature. The CA legislature is abominable, but I like my checks and balances nonetheless.

Short version of the above: We're hosed.

Knitting Clio said...

Great post -- but I hope the activism of UC faculty will extend beyond their system to the CSU system. I have friends and relatives who teach in the CSU system and they are all very worried.
We are better off here in the Connecticut State University system (we have a very strong union), but who knows how long this will last if the rest of the nation does indeed follow California's example?

Anonymous said...

The state university system for North Carolina is experiencing similar furloughs and budget cut backs as every other state school system, although I believe that the distribution isn't purely equitable since I believe that UNC Chapel Hill (considered the flagship school of the state & the college system) will be experiencing around 10% cutbacks, as compared with their sister school, NC State, which has projected budget cutbacks of 15-18%.

It's all bad here, but I do believe that perhaps unlike what I hear from colleagues in Washington state and California, the legislature is trying to take measures to protect higher education in North Carolina and feel it is a point of pride to invest in the future and to stay committed to higher ed in the state and for its students (NC has one of the highest in-state requirements for its university system--83% of its undergraduates must be NC state residents from the time they apply in high school).

Finally, what I will say as an alum of UCSB is that I feel proud that people there are trying to protest these budget cutbacks.

Anonymous said...

Post World War II California had burst with promise for the middleclass American family. Great jobs, beautiful environment, wonderful highways, and progressive leadership in almost every public institution established California as the “Golden State.” In particular I remember the promise of the California higher education system. The social turmoil and Cultural Revolution that moved our country closer to its founded values began there in the 1960’s. However, the conservative movements, in particular the success of Proposition 13, harkened a new age of self righteousness and self serving actions. We were told to believe that our personal successes lay in our individual desires to be productive. However, the “haves” neither gave recognition to social inequities nor had an apparent awareness of disparate resource allocations. Coupled to their social conscience was a recurring theme of paranoia. They had been conditioned to believe in a host of “boogey men.” Socialism, communism, liberalism, terrorism, Islamism, homosexuality, ad infinitism have cowed the middleclass American spirit to the point of indentured servitude.

There may be a groundswell growing for a new social revolution. History has shown that when the masses have no promising future the masses discard discourse and move society in more bellicose ways. I appreciate your and your colleagues’ efforts to ameliorate the impact of budget cuts on higher education. If you envision success in petitioning for relief, you may be overlooking the fundamental causes for the current state of our nation. We no longer appear to want open confrontation because it embodies elements of the “boogey men.” We saw true social justice evolve from the confrontations of the 60’s. I believe there is so much fear now in our country that it has usurped our ability to confront injustices today. What we dearly need is leadership. I hope new leaders erupt to save our great experiment of a nation.

“Que sera sera”

JackDanielsBlack said...

According to an article in this morning's Raleigh News and Observer, a recent study has found that the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill is spending more money on administrative costs than on academics, with an organizational ladder 10 layers deep in some areas. If I were a North Carolina legislator looking to cut costs in these penurious times, I think this article would give me a good clue as to where to start looking. I suspect that this situation is not unique to North Carolina.

Tenured Radical said...


What you suggest is also good rationale for having all constituencies represented in the budget process: at Zenith, for example, department chairs were asked -- not to cut actual people at this time -- but to project, in the event of a 25% cut, where faculty might be lost to such cuts with the least impact to their curriculum. One presumes that administrative departments were asked the same thing. But two things are interesting: first, at no point were any constituencies in the same room together. I was asked (by someone I like and respect) not to bring my AA, who has primary responsibility for monitoring my budget, so that the faculty budget process was insulated from the staffing budget process. But second, budget cuts -- as perhaps you commented some months ago (at any rate, someone did) -- that are envisioned as across the board -- take disproportionately from some and not from others, without asking us as a group to re-envision how we do our work or where we spend our dollars when times are flush.

This is, in effect, the sentient of the previous post that features the Scull letter. The problem is, of course, the values behind it, which regrettably, Scull shares with many in my profession: that only elites (and elites that are more or less self-perpetuated and self-anointed at that) deserve education.