On Thursday, state disinvestment forced another fee increase for students of the University of California. Though discussion of further fee increases has been temporarily tabled, students are not in the clear. The regents’ decision to postpone consideration of the “trigger mechanism” that would enact additional fee increases is only a temporary respite — should the $4 billion of projected revenue in the state budget fail to materialize, such a mechanism will be reconsidered.
But students cannot wait to find out whether the projected revenues will be realized; they need to mobilize, and they need to mobilize now.
But they cannot do it by themselves. Elected ASUC officials must lead the effort against state disinvestment by realizing their influence and working now to prepare to organize and harness student energy in the fall. While they have been visible from afar — sending out campuswide emails and participating in media interviews — these acts alone do not comprise the duties of their roles. As students return to campus, ASUC officials must actively and personally engage the student body in such a way that provides an avenue to voice frustration toward state leaders for continual disinvestment.
Elected officials can look to the past for examples of effective ASUC-motivated demonstrations; the protest on Sept. 24, 2009, was a success because of its size and organization, and it resulted in then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger dismissing proposed cuts to the university. Mobilization can work when properly executed, but without guidance risks certain failure.
Recently, however, protests have been largely reactionary. Students must be proactive in asserting opposition to state leaders’ efforts to solve California’s financial crisis by slashing education.
In conjunction with what we hope will be a systemwide effort led by student leaders, we call on the university to exhaust all forms of alternative revenue to diminish the possibility of a midyear fee increase. A unified voice will always resonate more powerfully with state legislators and will advance both the students’ and the administrations’ efforts to pressure the state into reinvesting in California’s future.
Though we face financial uncertainties going forward, our resolve must remain definite. We are past the stage of complaints — together, we must act.