Higher Education Cuts

Thank you for emphasizing the role of the state in your editorial on the current budget crisis. While the university is hardly a perfect institution, the continued cuts and tuition increases come not at the whim of Yudof and the Board of Regents but are a direct result of the state’s systematic divestment from higher education.

This is a structural problem: Thanks to ballot-box budgeting and federal mandates, higher ed is the largest piece of the budget pie that can be cut. Moreover, the university can’t make campaign contributions to preserve our interests in the political arena, and the biggest budgeting season falls in the summer when students are scattered and difficult to mobilize.

We need to change the game if we are to avoid future cuts. We need to get our families and our communities involved in the battle for our education and to start holding legislators accountable at the polls when they pay lip service to higher education and then stab us in the back. We need to be more wide-reaching and forceful in our advocacy measures and prove to Sacramento that our hurt is their hurt, and that we aren’t just apathetic students who never vote and can therefore be dismissed.

We need to become a force to be reckoned with.

Julia Gettle
UC Berkeley history major
Intern, UC State Governmental Relations Office
Chief of Staff, Berkeley branch of the UC Student Regents’ Office
Undergraduate Representative, UC Berkeley Academic Senate Committee on Academic Freedom
Member, Dean of Students’ Advisory Council


__________

As Salon and the WSJ pointed out this week, 2011 quarter 1 GDP was higher than the 2007 pre-recession peak. A study from Northeastern University noted that since the official end of the recession in 2009, corporate profits have accounted for 88 percent of national income growth, while wages and salaries comprised only slightly more than 1 percent.

Austerity budgets are political, not inevitable. There’s plenty of money in this country, but it’s in the possession of a very few people. Warren Buffet was right. Class warfare is a basic feature of our political economy, and the rich are winning. Unions are little refuge, and the un-unionized student class is an even easier target. Expect many more tuition increases.

Richard Booth, returning student

__________

University degrees are seen as gateways to personal success and welfare, and so it is a rarity finding students seeking to increase the welfare and knowledge of society. Students and faculty promoting such an increase are marginalized both physically and financially. The UC Regents have supported such a shift by increasing tuition by 49.6 percent in the last three years (this includes the soon to be approved 9.6 percent increase). As burdens have been directly placed on students to fund the private interests of individuals, apathy has arisen in society. No longer do universities support philosophers, lovers of knowledge seeking to improve society, but lovers of money and personal success. My question is how long can this unsustainable narcissism exist?

Devin Richards, CRS Major

__________

Unfortunately, we Californians only have ourselves to blame for the most recent round of tuition hikes. There are a myriad of reasons for California’s ongoing budget crisis and why our government cut more than $600 million from higher education in just one year. However, one crucial reason is that California’s taxpayers have been completely unwilling to pay what’s necessary to maintain access to some of the nation’s finest public universities and colleges. We are apparently no longer willing to collectively invest in institutions that help ensure opportunity to all Californians, no matter their economic background. And this will have an impact on everyone in this state, not just the students.

Luke Reidenbach, graduate student