For any professor who cares about students, the budget cuts create an overwhelming sense of frustration. The scramble for seats at the beginning of each term, made much worse by the reduction in the number and size of classes being offered, has turned a UC education into a game of musical chairs, a parody of education. It’s not a game that I or any of my colleagues signed on to play, but we are being forced to play it. Students and their parents are being forced to play it, too, and to pay much more for the privilege.
It does not have to be this way. The policies that led to this situation were made by cynical bureaucrats with no particular interest in education or the welfare of people for whom a UC education is a vitally important resource. In an interview this past fall, UC President Yudof expressed the belief that, as far as education goes, “the shine is off it,” that it has been “crowded out by other priorities.” Remember those words the next time you find yourself crowded out of a course you need or want to take, and consider what it’s like for a professor to teach at a university whose president thinks education just isn’t all that important.
There are things we can do. We can demand that the state legislature both restore funding for public education and subject the UC leadership to stricter and more effective oversight. We can work together to elect a new governor who will make education in general a top priority and who will see to it that the UC system, in particular, rededicates itself to the social purpose for which it was intended.