UC Berkeley Academic Senate voting to ask UC Regents to support prioritizing funding for higher education

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The Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate is currently holding elections for members of its Divisional Council and the Committee on Committees, as well as voting on a proposal asking the UC Board of Regents to support legislation prioritizing public higher education funding.

The ballot — which opened March 13 — seeks to fill three vacancies in the senate’s Divisional Council, which proposes legislation and approves special committees and task forces. It also includes four positions in the Committee on Committees, according to campus Division Secretary Gary Holland.

The campus voting window will close on April 4 and candidates will be notified of election results the next day.

The ballot also includes a proposed message from the systemwide Academic Senate calling on the board to support measures that will increase state revenue toward public higher education. The proposal can be passed with a simple majority.

The proposal was introduced in early February by the systemwide Senate and is being voted on by each of the 10 campuses’ individual senates, according to Associate Director of the Berkeley Division Linda Song.

Over the past two years, California’s funding for higher education has dropped from about $11.16 billion in fiscal year 2010-11 to about $9.66 billion in fiscal year 2011-12 for a total decrease of 13.5 percent, according to a January report published by Illinois State University’s Center for the Study of Education Policy and the State Higher Education Executive Officers.

The proposal’s argument in favor of the message attributes the state’s “two-decade withdrawal” of financial support to the UC to allocation of state funds to other areas, “notably prisons.”

In order to combat the “political deadlock” of the state legislature and its inability to project “sustainable and consistent increases in revenues,” the argument suggests that regents support higher education advocates’ ballot measures and other legislation seeking to reinvest in the public higher education system.

Afsana Afzal covers academics and administration.