Although the state did not cut higher education spending in 2010-11 — Arnold Schwarzenegger actually increased funding to the University by $370.4 million — the state cut the UC by $305 million last year, $52 million of which was dealt to UCSB to reduce. Moreover, $305 million of the money allotted to the UC by California in 2010-11 was just restored state funding from last year.

[media-credit name=”Alicia Crismali” align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]Ryan Hirschler:
Democratic Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed budget is the result of years of irresponsible financial management and poor state spending policy. For years Governor Schwarzenegger dealt with enormous budget shortfalls using shady accounting tricks and cheap gimmicks designed to postpone the inevitable collapse until the next guy took office. Jerry Brown has shown incredible leadership on this issue by making the tough choices and putting the future of California above partisan rhetoric and special interests. This year California faces a possible $28 billion deficit, and Brown is proposing massive cuts to higher education and social services in order to close the budget gap, while still protecting K-12 schools. Meanwhile, Republicans are refusing to compromise and allow the state to raise new revenue. We can’t simply cut all $28 billion from the budget — we need to raise taxes. If we fail to do this we are placing the burden for our irresponsibility on our children.

With nearly $1.4 billion being cut from higher education, Governor Brown is likely to lose a few supporters from the very students who helped elect him. But we should remember that a cheap education now isn’t worth the collapse of our public university system later. A university education is a tremendous privilege and is the gateway to personal economic success. I cannot in good conscience ask the working class to pay a gas tax so that I get a free ride through college. Education must remain accessible and as affordable as we can let it, but most importantly, it has to be sustainable. I knocked on doors in November not to increase my own education subsidy, but to make sure California has the necessary leadership to address the current crisis. Jerry Brown is the man for the job and I fully support him in this effort.
Ryan Hirschler is president of the UCSB Campus Democrats.

Michelle Zaks:
When I started my first year at UCSB, I really did not understand what the budget cuts were all about or how they were affecting so many students. I come from a pretty well-off family, so I did not need to worry about paying for my tuition. I allowed myself to be naïve for a while, not bothering to find out what was happening or why so many students were angry and frustrated.

The first time I felt affected by the budget cuts was when I couldn’t get a fourth class for winter quarter. I tried to crash a couple of classes, but there was already such a long waiting list — and I was so low in priority — that I did not come close to getting in. Taking a meager 12 units that quarter, I became distinctly aware of the affects the budget cuts were having. I saw friends who were pre-med not getting the classes they needed. They would tell me how if they didn’t get the chemistry class they are supposed to take, they wouldn’t be able to stay pre-med due to their inability to finish their course work on time.

We hear a lot about how prices are going up and class spaces are going down, but we lose sight of how these budget cuts affect individuals going through the system. We lose sight of the girl studying to get into medical school who may not be able to pursue her dream because she is unable to get into a simple chemistry lab.
Michelle Zaks is a second-year psychology major.

Zac Gates:
Budget cuts affect you, me and the world around us. They limit our potential by putting a cap on the resources available to us that we could have otherwise used to expand our intellectual capabilities. Luckily, I am graduating this year, so I will avoid a lot of the damage that will be done. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care for my fellow students. An education is something to be valued, and each student in this university has already demonstrated their commitment to their education by meeting university standards. It isn’t fair for us to fall victim to these cuts that are the product of somebody else’s fiscal irresponsibility.

But as we were told when we were kids — life isn’t fair. In order to understand the university system, we must treat it like a business. Students pay their money for a service that is provided, that service being a quality education. The state government has no money, which means the university has no money. So in order to make up for this loss they have to make cuts in the university system, just like a struggling business would have to let some employees go. Don’t blame the UC Regents for this problem. Blame the Republicans and Democrats in the California government for treating the state budget as if they could just spend unlimited amounts of money without consequences. Hopefully we will soon realize that fiscal responsibility is more than just rhetoric.
Zac Gates is vice president of the UCSB College Republicans.

Carly Bonilla-Flores:
The current UC situation is bleak and, like a collective waiting room, we’re anxiously preparing ourselves for an even bleaker future. Governor Jerry Brown, a UC graduate himself, announced under his proposed state budget a $500 million cut to the UC system. But wait — the UC regents just recently handed out incentive raises of more than $4 million. I can’t help but note the stark discrepancy between these two facts.

I remember when Brown came to speak to UCSB before the gubernatorial election. It was exciting — UCSB was the first college campus he was visiting on his college tour and all the attendees, who not only included students but also UC employees, held up their “Jerry Brown for Governor 2010” posters with steady hope and optimism. During his speech, Brown proudly declared himself a UC graduate and spoke of the importance of supporting the university. So I ask now: With all due respect, Governor Brown, where is that support?

Though what’s most shocking and distressing is that under Brown’s proposed fiscal plan, for the first time in the UC system’s 143 years of existence, the tuition payments made by UC students will surpass what the state contributes to the university’s general budget. At the same time financial aid is still being reduced and we, the students, are still living paycheck-to-paycheck hoping the ramen lasts the week.

Here I am — the bearer of bad news — just letting you know how shitty your future is starting to look from here. Are you mad yet? What if I told you that the UCs in the following decade will have to turn away qualified students when demand for UC admission is the highest in the system’s history? How about this: there will be fewer classes, fewer professors and we will end up paying more for less.

Clichés get a bad rap, but they exist for a reason. That is why I have no qualms about stating that we, the students, are the future. But the legislators are not giving a second thought to the disproportional cuts on higher education. There goes that future…

Fun fact: Universities originated in the High Middle Ages period, not from the Church or the reigning political body, but by young people — students. I can’t help but feel a sense of obligation to those people, whose legacies remain solely in my opportunity to a formal higher education. This obligation has manifested itself in the need to promote knowledge and action. The legislative and higher education systems are in no doubt experiencing a state of uncertainty and change, but we the students are the ones left with the shit on our plates. I personally am not willing to passively clean up that shit.

However, as I walk the streets of I.V. all I smell is beer, weed and an overwhelming air of passivity. Keep drinking your beers, keep smoking that mary jane, but this passivity can’t go on much longer. There are organizations on campus such as CALPIRG that are actively trying to better this dismal situation. On Friday, Feb. 4, CALPIRG chapters across California are organizing a call-in day to Governor Brown. There is also going to be a rally for education on March 2 called Day of Action similar to the one held last year. My purpose is not to be solicitor, nor am I trying to make some grand generalization about the UCSB community. I simply believe that higher education is crucial to California’s long-term success, which is why we can’t sit on couches hoping for the best. That is also why, up until Day of Action for higher education, I am determined to learn more about what can be done on campus to change the current situation we find ourselves in, and hopefully at the same time motivate and encourage you to do the same.
Carly Bonilla-Flores is a staff photographer for the Daily Nexus.

Bob Samuels:
A recent Los Angeles Times editorial argued that the solution to the University of California’s budget problems is to reduce enrollments, but this suggestion would not only limit access to education when it is most needed, it would also hurt the funding of the entire system. Currently, undergraduate tuition is the only stable source of funding for the UC system, and the revenue generated by in-state and nonresident students subsidizes research, administration and most other UC activities. In fact, the university receives on average $23,000 from each undergraduate student (this includes state and student revenue) but only spends $8,000 on direct instructional costs. In other words, the university will generate more income if it enrolls more students.

By increasing the number of international students and maintaining the level of resident enrollees, the UC could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars, while it supports its goals of access, affordability and excellence. This growth model would require hiring more assistant professors and lecturers, and for people who worry about undermining the research mission, it should be stressed that the more income generated by tuition, the more research that can be supported.

Some have argued that the system does not have enough classrooms or facilities, but this is a false excuse. If the universities expand their hours of operations and have more evening courses, more students can be accommodated.  In addition, housing and dining are self-supporting and often produce profits so they can handle an influx of students, and let’s not forget that there are plenty of empty houses and buildings around our campuses.

A key to this growth model would be a better balance between teaching and research, and this could be accomplished in two cost-efficient ways. The first step is to avoid the costly move to online education and to provide more opportunities for faculty members to teach undergraduate courses in their areas of specialization. The UCLA English Department has already moved in this direction.

Another move would be to replace large courses with smaller seminars that allow for more student-faculty interaction. While this change looks like it would cost more money, it is often cheaper to have smaller classes due to the added cost of sections attached to large lecture classes.

If the UC can increase its instructional quality, while bringing in more revenue, it can become a national leader in how to save our research universities.  All of the other options on the table call for a massive reduction of enrollments, layoffs, decreased opportunity and financial self-destruction. We can have improved access, affordability and quality if we make undergraduate education an essential priority.
Bob Samuels is the president of UC-AFT.

Doug Wagoner:
It is hard to overstate the gravity of the situation at hand. Governor Brown’s proposed budget includes a $500 million (approximately 16 percent) reduction in state support to the University of California. Furthermore, the governor’s budget assumes an additional $11.2 billion from a statewide initiative to renew an array of taxes scheduled to expire this year. However, currently there is no Republican support for this tax renewal. Consequently, it is dubious whether Brown can achieve the necessary two-thirds vote in the legislature to put the initiative on the ballot. As Brown stated, failure to get the initiative on the ballot would likely result in a doubled cut to higher education.

Upon releasing his proposed budget, Brown promised to work with stakeholders — including employees and students — to ensure that any cuts have a minimal impact on student fees and student enrollment. Pursuant to that statement, the UC Students Association ( — the coalition of elected student representatives working on statewide affairs — was invited to a working group charged with the task of brainstorming options to meet the $500 million cut.

Students have also been speaking out against the cuts to higher education during the budget hearings in the various subcommittees of the legislature. In addition, they are organizing on our campus and through the UCSA Board of Directors to communicate how devastating these cuts would be to the quality, affordability and accessibility of higher education in California.

Despite the rhetoric of the Regents and the Office of the President who constantly trumpet the Blue and Gold Plan — an ostensible guarantee of a free UC education for Californians whose families make less than $80,000 per year — studies suggest that low-income students are increasingly deterred from seeking a higher education as a result of their inability to afford the net price of tuition. The UC’s recent history demonstrates that budget cuts result in fee increases, although fee increases have in turn yielded lower quality education. Brown’s proposed cut, which has nearly the same fiscal impact as shutting down a large campus like UCLA, will diminish quality and opportunity for California students through increasing student fees, increasing the number of out-of-state students, decreasing enrollment and cutting student services like Academic Advising, Counseling Services and tutoring, all of which are vital to student retention.

With over 40,168 UC and CSU students registered in the November election (over 8,000 of those were from UCSB!), it goes without saying that Brown owes his election in no small part to the votes of students from UC Santa Barbara. Moreover, given that students pay thrice to attend the UC through tuition, campus-based fees and taxes, we represent the number-one stakeholder in the future of this university. Educated young adults are tomorrow’s doctors, engineers and teachers, and accordingly the preservation of an accessible higher education is vital to the economic recovery of our state. It is time for the students of UCSB to rise up and fight for that fact.
Doug Wagoner is a third-year history major and A.S. External Vice President for Statewide Affairs.