UC faculty council endorses Occupy Wall Street

University of California faculty are among the newest members of the social movement known as Occupy Wall Street, which aims to promote awareness of the various forms of economic, political and social inequalities in the United States.

The Council of UC Faculty Associations — an umbrella organization for the associations of UC Senate faculty members — wrote a petition Wednesday in support of the movement.

The petition supports demonstrators in demanding changes to “the many inequitable features of our society, which have been exacerbated by the financial crisis of 2009 and the subsequent recession,” including the country’s economic inequalities and the relationship between corporate power and government.

The board of the council, which includes eight UC campuses, decided to create its own petition in support of the movement after faculty from Columbia University and Barnard College developed an initial petition last week, according to political science professor Wendy Brown, co-chair of the Berkeley Faculty Association.

Brown said in an email that the council promotes higher education as a nonprofit, public good, which aligns with the goals of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

“We understand this to be part of what (the movement) stands for,” she said in the email. “We are delighted by the protests and consider our campaign to be at one with it.”

As of Sunday, about 700 people have signed the petition. UC faculty have been signing the petition at a rapid rate since it was posted online Wednesday evening, said Joe Kiskis, a physics professor at UC Davis and vice president for external relations for the council.

The faculty’s motivation for signing the petition, Kiskis said, is the result of a shrinking amount of employment and educational opportunities for young people in the state.

“Our leadership at the state level and the university are trying to institutionalize these inequities and make them even worse,” he said. “A lot of people are gratified to finally see people giving voice to some of these frustrations.”

Christine Rosen, an associate professor at the Haas School of Business and co-chair of the Berkeley Faculty Association, said the vagueness of the movement could be helpful in prompting discussion about economic issues.

“Although the Occupy Wall Street movement is a little formless in some ways, we see it as raising the questions and not being totally anti-government, like the Tea Party,” Rosen said.

Rising tuition has forced students to borrow increasing amounts of money, pushing them into exorbitant debt, said Bob Meister, a professor of political and social thought at UC Santa Cruz and the president of the council.

“You are turning students into customers of Wall Street,” he said. “You are asking students to imagine that their tuition is income investment — as other people in society fall asleep.”

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  • Guest

    UC faculty obviously aren’t teaching enough courses per semester if they have time for **** like this.


    • Seer of Things

      That’s kind of like saying that I’m not working enough hours per week if I have time to clean my bathroom. 

      You were born an ignorant fuck, Guest, like all of us, but there’s no excuse for your staying that way.

      • Actually Guest made a very valid point, which has caused you to have a tantrum. The Tea Party people have their demonstrations for a few hours, then afterwards they clean up, fold up their flags and lawn chairs, and go home to live their lives – working, voting, taking care of their families, and otherwise being responsible members of the community. They understand that there is a valid role for demonstration and protests, but at the end of the day it has to be balanced out with keeping their commitments as responsible adults as well. OTOH, the lefties LIVE for protest, which feeds their narcissistic supply and gives them the feeling that they are “important” and making “change”. This need to feel important and be the center of attention is due to their overall insecurity and is a compensation mechanism for the fact that their lives are otherwise meaningless.

        • starr s t a r r

          Tony, what you’ve implied is so hurtful to this lefty who works two teaching jobs, 50-60 hours per week. Gotta go grade some papers — at Occupy San Diego, fool.

          • Well, the heart of  Cal alum righty who works 60+ hours for a solar technology startup (and unlike Solyndra, NOT receiving federal bailout funds) just bleeds for you….

  • Anonymous

    “Rising tuition has forced students to borrow increasing amounts of
    money, pushing them into exorbitant debt, said Bob Meister, a professor
    of political and social thought at UC Santa Cruz and the president of
    the council.”
    Just think about the hypocrisy of the faculty.  The regents are bidding against the costliest universities in America to hire the faculty at U.C. while paying for the benefits and pensions of retired U.C. employees,  and that is why tuition has gone up twice as fast as inflation.  The faculty is not volunteering to cut their own salaries to help the students.  Instead, the faculty is endorsing a mob movement to force banks into forgiving student loans, which are exorbitant precisely because of the bidding war for top faculty members.  If banks are forced to write off all their bad student loans, not only will America be plunged into a deep recession but future students will never be able to borrow money from banks again.

    • KMK

      I don’t know about the specific situation in California, but college and university faculty all over the country have been furloughed, some for as many as 3-4 years. And have we really reached the point whereby instead of trying to attain basic social benefits for all –such as health insurance–we’re going to demonstrate active hostility toward those who by some miracle still do have it? State employees are paid very little relative to their education and number of work hours, with significant portions of their income used to subsidize retirement plans and health insurance (try shadowing a faculty member for a week, seeing how they actually spend their time; most put in 60 hour work weeks at a bare minimum). Finally, conservative voters and politicians would rather line the pockets of Wall Street–whose idea of “creativity” and “innovation” is to flood the economy with hedge funds and toxic assets–rather than invest in a basic public good, such as education. And no wonder: the GOP knows that increasingly there’s a direct correlation between level of education and voting patterns: education by definition expands one’s world view and dismantles ignorance and provincial thinking; it fosters deep creativity, thoughtfulness, and empathy–in short, a progressive mindset.  What possible incentive does the GOP have to support education?  I can’t help but wonder if its rush to rapidly and corrosively defund public learning is in part motivated by a desire to thwart that which is recognized as a threat to its long-term survivability.

      • Anonymous

        “State employees are paid very little relative to their education and number of work hours…”

        I could dispute that, but it wasn’t my point.  I’m saying the faculty is lucky to make a relatively good living, researching and teaching their specialties, but they forget that the reason their students are struggling with debt is because of the high cost of hiring and maintaining such a distinguished faculty in a national bidding war.  So when the faculty tries to divert attention to the banks and top 1%, that smacks of hypocrisy.

        “What possible incentive does the GOP have to support education? ”

        The GOP is a much stronger defender of education than Democrats.  The GOP wants teachers and schools to be accountable for failing to teach all students, especially minorities, whereas Democrats want to lower graduation standards for minorities.  The GOP wants to everyone to be better educated because that translates into higher paying jobs which then increases our government revenues without hiking tax rates.  The GOP is also more patriotic than Democrats and wants scientific and engineering breakthroughs to benefit America first.  Unions and Democrats try to protect the jobs of less-educated workers by blocking free trade, while the GOP wishes to protect American workers by improving education for Americans so that innovation happens here first, along with handsome dividends, but that just goes to show the GOP has a strong incentive to improve education. 

    • Guest

      “that is why tuition has gone up twice as fast as inflation.”
      Nonsense.  Tuition has gone up for one primary reason.  The legislature has cut support for California’s public universities in half.  The State no longer provides an adequate subsidy for tuition, so students must pay it.

      • Anonymous

        I was not just referring to U.C., but to top universities all across America.  Something is wrong when middle class workers are losing jobs, stocks and bonds are losing value, and price of oil is below $90 per barrel, yet tuition keeps going up at twice the rate of inflation.  For U.C., the tuition is probably going up at 4X the rate of inflation.  Why?  Because the top universities have to bid for the most prestigious professors with the highest quality of published works in order to attract grants and students.  The Cal faculty is world-class, which is great for Cal, but surely the faculty has to know what a dear price the regents paid to assemble such a stellar faculty, and for it to then turn around and blame the banks for not forgiving crushing student loans is just plain ignorance.  Students are in debt because of the bidding war for top faculty. 

        • Guest

          I’m really dubious of this bidding-war for faculty.  As State support declined, UC campuses have hired many more lecturers and grad-student instructors.  Over the last several years, inflation in the US and world economies has been exceptionally low; a rise of twice the inflation rate sounds big but isn’t.  At UC, the major factor in rising costs has been State disinvestment.  Take a look at this, especially Display 4:  http://budget.ucop.edu/documents/2011-12/multi-yearbudgetplan.pdf

          • Anonymous

            This quote seems to sum up my point, although your point about lower state subsidies is valid too.
            “One of the reasons that Duke University costs about $51,000 a year is that the elite schools are in a bidding war for top faculty and better services for students, says college spokesman Michael Schoenfeld. In addition, competition for the best students forces schools to offer bigger and bigger scholarships, which means few students actually pay the full sticker price, he notes.”

          • Guest

            Your quote mashes together several cost factors: tuition, student services, financial aid.  It makes more sense to address them separately at UC, since they include both State and non-State components.