Posted by rflacks on:
Thursday (9/24) is first day of class at UCSB. Returning students will be paying a good deal more this year--and getting a lot less. Many classes have been canceled because of budgetary shortfalls. Faculty and staff furloughs will reduce services and the number of class days per quarter. The first day of class is always a bit chaotic as students shop for classes and try to crash stuffed lecture rooms. This week will be much worse because of the cuts...and because a number of faculty will be observing a "walkout". Staff and faculty unions throughout the state are walking out on September 24. Some of the campuses have been open for weeks already, so their walkouts may well be widespread and well organized. At UCSB, at least some faculty will be using the first day to support the state wide action in one way or another. And it seems that student groups across the state will also be marking the day to protest the declining value and rising costs of their education.
The main public event at UCSB is a rally at the Arbor, scheduled to start at 11:30. If you know of other happenings please comment below. The 9-24 protests focus on what organizers are calling 'mismanagement' of the crisis by Pres. Yudof. There's dispute about whether the UC administration could use pots of money not allocated for instruction to offset the huge cuts the state budget has inflicted. There's widespread shock over the proposal, now being pondered by the Regents, to increase student tuition again during the current year. Faculty and staff 'furloughs' for next year are now on the table (these mean thousands of dollars of lost pay to each employee).
Personally, I think its clear that the crisis is not simply internal to the UC system, All of us at the university need to be thinking and acting in concert with everyone else in the state whose salaries are being cut, jobs being threatened and essential services being slashed. And we need to work for solutions that can help make California move in a new direction.
Another UCSB action aimed at doing just that is a teach-in planned for October 14--and educational happening open to community as well as campus folks. I'll be telling more about this soon.
It's crucial to start a big debate on the tax structure of California. I want to make a point that has been bugging me for years: For decades the University of California provided essentially a free education. Beneficiaries of this were many members of the business and political elite of this state. Yet many of these have resisted tax reforms that would help maintain affordable access to the UC system for the new generation. A good case in point is the just issued report by a thing called the Commission on the 21st Century headed by Gerald Parsky. This body , created by the gov. and Karen Bass, assembly speaker, is loaded with corporate leaders. They were charged with proposing a tax reform for the state (but the problem they were asked to solve was the alleged 'volatility' (unpredictability) of state revenue. They just released a report that provides for a virtually flat income tax (that would cut taxes for millionaires by 100 grand, and cut taxes for middle class folks by $4 (I'm not kidding). They propose a new business tax to be levied on all goods and services in the state to replace lost revenue from the income tax cut they want. They also advocate drilling in the coastal waters as a revenue generator. What they haven't proposed is an oil 'severance' tax (something all other oil producing states require). they propose no reform of prop 13 despite the enormous inequities that its current provisions are producing.
It's time to start talking about the tax structure. And its time for UC alumni to think about the debt they owe to the current and future generations of students struggling to pay for an education they got for virtually nothing.