Discussing the future

HIGHER EDUCATION: Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom’s new group to discuss funding for higher education shows influential potential.

As often happens in politics, a new committee has popped up to address a sweeping issue in the state of California, boasting the sole end goal of submitting recommendations.

The group, assembled by Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, will throw members of both the private and public sector together in a room to discuss funding for students of the state’s higher education systems, reflecting education’s shift toward more private backing, but also presenting an opportunity for change.

While we are concerned that this effort could easily devolve into a fruitless and inactive endeavor — becoming simply a recommendation to a recommender — this presents a great opportunity to spark a necessary conversation, to demand the attention of high-ranking officials and to pull from perspectives of all members of the community.

Newsom announced last Friday that members will include the heads of each of the state’s institutions of higher education, as well as members of the business world, such as Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs. But only one student has been included thus far, UC Berkeley student Jeremy Pilaar. As the group evolves, we urge Newsom to include a student from each of the state’s public higher education systems in the conversation so they can provide their perspectives.

In order to ensure that the goals of this body do not die with its recommendations, its members must make a sincere effort to have an impact and play a crucial role. Members of corporate California who are part of the group must recognize that many of their colleagues rose to their positions because of the education they received through the state’s education systems. If the status quo persists, future generations would not have the same opportunities that were available to them. We hope this will motivate business leaders to make efforts to convince others of the importance of preserving education for the future.

This group must issue bold and unflinching statements about the state of higher education to bend the ears of state legislators and other influential individuals. This should be an opportunity to observe and assess what will capture the public’s attention and make a difference.