The election on Nov. 2 is of crucial importance to the future of public education in California, especially higher education. Students, workers and faculty who care about that future should make sure they register to vote before the deadline on Oct. 18, and that they actually vote.
[media-credit id=20201 align=”alignleft” width=”171″][/media-credit]The election will have immediate consequences for the UC system. The governor appoints the regents and, together with the lieutenant governor, sits on the Board of Regents. The UC Office of the President, which last year pushed through a series of drastic measures moving the University in the direction of privatization — including a 32 percent fee increase — is planning a whole new series of similar steps in order to complete the process, but is waiting on the outcome of the election to assess the political climate. The strong opposition that their policies generated last year created embarrassing publicity for them, and they know that they must move carefully. The election of a governor with a strong ideological investment in privatization will empower them to do more of what they did last year, while a governor responsive to the public nature of the UC will be an obstacle to them. Such a governor will also appoint regents likelier to protect, rather than undermine, the public mission of the University.
With the right kind of concerted action, we can pressure such a governor to appoint only regents with a demonstrated commitment to public education, and thus help to stop and reverse the trend toward privatization. The election of local State Assembly representatives committed to the support of public education will also help in that effort.
Not only should members of the University community be active in voting, they should persuade their families and friends to vote as well. Students with younger siblings, who expect to attend a UC campus, should tell their parents and grandparents. Alumni too should be alerted: Their votes can help prevent the dismantling of the University system that has served them and the people of California so well.