University of California President Mark G. Yudof met with reporters from several UC student newspapers last Thursday to discuss the UC’s current state of affairs.
Reporters from three northern UC campuses sat down with Yudof for a one-hour question-and-answer session at the UC Office of the President in Oakland, CA, while reporters from three southern UC campuses participated via teleconference. Topics ranged from the university’s omnipresent budgetary woes to recent controversies at various UC campuses.
According to Yudof, the university is suffering from $800 million in budget cuts — the largest deficit since the Great Depression. With half as much funding as the university had 20 years ago, the UCOP was forced to lay off 500 employees and reduce its own budget by $60 million.
In order to combat the budget cuts, Yudof said the university has relied on student fee increases, staff furloughs and department restructuring — which have thus far garnered $180 million for the university.
Aside from financial cutbacks, Yudof also discussed the university’s lobbying efforts.
The UC Student Association will rally in Sacramento today to lobby state legislators. Yudof, UCOP staff members, UC Regents, chancellors and students will meet with government officials to discuss the importance of state investment in higher education.
“I really do understand the anger and angst of faculty and students,” he said. “I’m out there with you, in fact I’m out there with you on March 1. … We have to continue this intensity not for weeks, but for months and months and months.”
However, Yudof said the state-wide public education rallies scheduled for March 4 — which will push for collaboration between all public education institutions — will be in vain if they are not executed peacefully.
“Understandably, there will be a lot of activism on March 4. I’m very strong in supporting, over the years, the rights of students to protest. I’m not thrilled with them taking over buildings and destroying property,” Yudof said, referencing the recent riot over fee increases at UC Berkeley. “That’s not protected speech, never has been.”
Yudof also condemned recent instances of racism at UC Irvine and UC San Diego.
Eleven UCI students are facing expulsion after disrupting a free public lecture by Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren on
Feb. 8. The group stood up in the audience and shouted repeatedly to interrupt Oren’s speech.
At UCSD, a racially themed party held two weeks ago allegedly mocking Black History Month — titled the Compton Cookout — has stirred considerable controversy at the university.
“I thought that the San Diego instance with the Compton BBQ is outrageous,” Yudof said. “[It’s] really an insult to everyone, especially for African American students and faculty. … We just have to work harder. Some of it is working on admission, some of it is working on campus processes.”
On Feb. 26 — a day after the conference with Yudof — a UCSD student confessed to hanging a noose on a light fixture in a UCSD library. Yudof, the UC Academic Senate Chair and Vice Chair and all UC chancellors have issued a broad “condemnation of racism, intolerance and incivility” in response to the incident.