Our editorial board is publishing this statement to the Regents in hopes of getting an important message through their thick skulls: California’s youth is barely able to attend the UC at present fee levels.
“Who cares?” You may say to yourself. “That’s been the case for the last two decades.”
As part of the UC we challenge you to go beyond. Don’t sit-back — reform is a participation sport, and you’re up to bat.
We have entered an age where a student who wants an affordable education is considered an extremist. Next generation’s UC students will pay more than their predecessors for less of an education than the system has ever offered. While the Regents of the University of California and their police cohorts might say that UC students are rebellious gits with no respect for bureaucratic procedure, they have criminalized our inherent right to learn and better ourselves through schooling.
Our campaign for education was never a radical request. In their fight for the right to education, California’s youth has never asked for more than they were entitled.
However, to our dismay, the practice of denial and scapegoating has become a staple of behavior from UC leadership.
We find it absolutely imperative to remind the Regents that the UC is a public institution, and that its mission is to provide an affordable quality education to those who qualify. The Regents have thus far failed in their pledge to adhere to the California Master Plan and support California students as well as uphold their right to an affordable, equal higher education decades ago.
Yesterday, students braved brandished weapons and pepper spray in a commendable but likely futile effort to return balanced decision-making to the UC.
Unfortunately, in modern times, our students are persecuted, pepper-sprayed and taunted with handguns whenever they voice their discontent.
At yesterday’s meeting, a police officer pulled a pistol on student protesters. While circumstances are still unclear, the fact of the matter is that a UC police officer pointed a deadly weapon at unarmed students whose only request was to be offered an affordable education.
Although police presence was requested in the case the protest went awry, yesterday’s violence between law enforcement and students is indicative of a larger desperation that has now enveloped the entire UC system.
Not only did last year’s 32 percent fee increases break the bank, but Mark Yudof now proposes to add an additional eight percent to that number and raise the total cost of a public education in California to an unprecedented 40 percent over the last two years.
How far can our pockets stretch? How long can UC executives reach into them to pay for the state’s fiscal mismanagement?
We understand that money is scarce and times are hard — not just for the UC, but for the nation as a whole. However, this does not excuse a lack of UC investment into the classroom. We are the next generation, and we demand the same access to public education that was given to the generations before us.
The Board of Regents has consistently passed responsibility for this injustice onto the state, declaring their hands and tongues tied in addressing the matter. But denial can only go so far.
We have some words for the UC executives who have failed to take the students’ interests into account: take responsibility for your failure to represent us in this economic crisis. Take responsibility for the overwhelmed parents and students, the poorly paid professors, the underfunded programs, the lack of campus resources and the packed classrooms. Recognize that you are indeed the upper echelon of a decision-making process that trickles down into real world consequences for all the students you pledged to serve when you took your position. Realize your potential to change the situation for the better and to ease the sting of the recession for California citizens who deserve an education.
Students: realize your responsibility to ensure that this change happens. Keep your elected representatives honest, both for your sake and the sake of subsequent generations. Silence is consent in this case, and unless you are enthusiastic about forking over more of your money to the UC Regents, we suggest you speak up.
Yesterday’s protest was a wake-up call. It serves to remind us of the risks our peers are willing to take to ensure our right to an accessible education is still existent. The risks, consequences and future of a declining and unaffordable UC system are real.
We are delusional to appreciate the efforts of our UC leadership. Students have every reason to believe that we have been forsaken. The UC was once recognized as an accessible path to higher education; it was once considered an affordable option for a world-class education. Now, elitist values and exclusionary prices ensure that this education is only extended to the rich.
The UC Board of Regents has failed you. It’s time to take matters into our own hands.