On Thursday, members of the UCSB faculty acted alongside other employees and students to protest the UC budget cuts authorized by the Regents during the summer and the possibility of further increases on student fees.
These cuts will have a severely negative impact on all aspects of University operations: Employees will be forced to accept involuntary work reductions (furloughs) and many will even be laid off. There will be much less support for lecturers and TAs, as courses will be cut and many others reduced in size. With fewer classes being taught and less room in the remaining classes, it will take you longer to finish your degrees. The quality of the instruction you receive, indeed, your educational experience as a whole, will also suffer. Yet, at the same time, you will have to pay much more: You will be paying more for less.
We believe that these measures are unnecessary. Although the state has cut back on the funding for education, the UC system has billions of dollars in unrestricted funds with which to compensate, at least in for short term. But the Regents have simply refused to use those funds: They wish to protect and advance the process of privatizing the University, turning it from a public resource that offers an education to all qualified students regardless of economic background into a profit-making enterprise, a research facility of enterprise that benefits industrial companies. Their conduct shows contempt for the needs of the students and people of California and is a monumental betrayal of the public trust, comparable to what happened at Enron, AIG and at Wall Street banks and investment firms.
In the long run, state funding for public education must be restored, and we must do all we can to make sure it is. At the same time, the institutional culture of the UC system must be changed; the movement toward further privatization must be stopped, and the Regents, together with the system-wide administration, must readjust their priorities. We must work together to take back the University.
Some may say that in scheduling this action on the first day of classes, faculty participants are abandoning their pedagogical responsibilities. We disagree: It is because we take our roles as teachers seriously that we feel we must dedicate this first day of the new academic year to an especially urgent lesson by reminding our entire community of what we now stand to lose. We invite all of you to inform yourselves on the issues involved and to join with us in our effort to defend your education.
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