Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger paid UCSB one of his signature stealth visits in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Touting a new bond initiative as part of his reelection campaign, Schwarzenegger and his crew shut down Davidson Library – to the dismay of those hoping to get a jump on midterm studying – for a cozy press conference. What, you weren’t invited? Not even local law enforcement knew about it until Friday night.
Perhaps Arnold thought that by scheduling his appearance on the morning after Cinco de Mayo he could sidestep protests because everyone would be too hung over to bother. But, au contraire – armed with only their phones and e-mails, tenacious UCSB activists were able to mobilize an impressive “welcome” crew late Friday night.
The governor hasn’t had the best reception in Santa Barbara, to say the least – hundreds turned out last October to protest his hush-hush, invitation-only “town hall” meeting for his failed special election. On the morning after Halloween in 2004, he visited the Elephant Bar in Goleta to endorse Bob Pohl, who lost the 35th District Assembly race to Pedro Nava. Students and concerned community members, there to voice opposition to education funding cuts and the Governor’s pro-business agenda, were written off as “special interests.”
Wherever Schwarzenegger makes an appearance, protests follow. Is it any wonder why he would keep a low profile when his approval rating is second only to the president’s dismal numbers?
When you hear Schwarzenegger touting his unwavering support for education and California students, beware. This man is no friend to higher education. In the past three years he has allowed our fees to rise. Have you seen that money come back to our campus in more classrooms, cheaper textbooks or more financial aid? Or did it go straight to the bank accounts of the UC system’s top staffers in the form of bonuses and outrageous salary hikes?
Let’s all sit back and watch as Schwarzenegger claims credit for freezing our fees this year, when the real credit belongs the UC Student Association (UCSA) and their strong lobbying efforts with legislative leaders and the governor. It was not a benevolent leader, but students themselves that saved us each $500 this year.
But lo and behold, it’s an election year again. We are beginning to hear the rhetoric and shameless pandering from our loving governor. But we see through it. This is all too little, too late. I would at least have expected him to have a few token UCSB students standing behind him at the press conference. No doubt our campus still contains a few star-struck shills who still marvel at how it’s “f-ing sweet that the Terminator is our governor!”
We were also disappointed that Chancellor Henry T. Yang, usually a great champion of students, allowed Davidson Library to close for two hours during midterm time for what was nothing more than a cheap photo-op for political gain.
The upcoming primary election June 6 will be the first step toward getting a real champion of students and higher education into office. Providing much more than empty rhetoric, Democratic candidates like Phil Angelides for governor and Jackie Speier for lieutenant governor have fought for California’s students and schools. If elected in November, we can be sure they will use their political office for substantive change, not photo-ops.
Hillary Blackerby is a third-year dramatic art major and Heather Buchheim is a fourth-year global studies major.