The University of California student worker unions hosted April Fools’ Day events across multiple UC campuses on April 1, mockingly congratulating the nine UC chancellors on their recent pay raises. At UC Santa Barbara, organizers and students gathered under Storke Tower with food and games to celebrate Chancellor Henry T. Yang’s pay raise through activities like a Yang-themed cornhole.
The event, which drew dozens of passersby throughout the afternoon, was dubbed Yangtopia — a play on Deltopia, Isla Vista’s annual unsanctioned street party that was held the same weekend.
Members of the UCSB chapters of United Auto Workers (UAW) 2865, which represents Student Employees, UAW 5810, representing postdoctoral researchers as well as academic researchers, and the Student Researchers United (SRU-UAW) organized the event.
The three unions are all in the early stages of bargaining with the university in order to renegotiate their contracts, and are exploring collaborations to leverage a better contract for UC employees with the cornerstone of their demands relating to housing affordability and security.
UAW 2865 union organizer and graduate student in mechanical engineering Brian Dincau spoke to the shared issues that university employees face regarding housing insecurity.
“It’s not like grad students have separate housing issues than postdocs have separate housing issues than other employees,” he said. “It’s really all the same issue and we’re all the same group. And so, we want to bring people together. We want to have some fun with it this time and invite other people to have some fun with us.”
“Every UC today is celebrating this event and satire, really just as an opportunity to raise awareness for how housing affects so many different groups,” Dincau continued.
Among the assorted games and craft tables was a taped-off section, which was 7-by-10 feet, meant to represent the size of a bedroom in UCSB’s proposed Munger Hall. Passersby were able to see for themselves the size of the windowless rooms that may become home to approximately 4,500 students, should the project be completed in 2025.
“Just imagine what it would be like for this to be where you come home from class every day,” Dincau said. “This seems like torture.”
Ultimately, the event centered around Chancellor Yang’s 28.4% pay raise, which Dincau believes to be an unnecessary use of funds given the financial struggles of thousands of UC employees.
“A lot of people are outraged that the university is willing to invest half a million dollars a year or more in order to retain their chancellors, instead of putting this money towards something that can help students find housing,” he said.