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Ironies of a public university: EECS edition

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FEBRUARY 15, 2023

UC Berkeley is known widely for its science and engineering programs. The public school we know all too well is internationally renowned for its role in educating the next generation of tech. But, the glory of a prestigious title and reputation is coupled with chaos — battles for funding, staffing and declaring majors.

The electrical engineering and computer sciences, or EECS, department has been struggling, to say the least. For years, members of the EECS department have suffered from limited funding and staffing, leading to students in EECS courses to navigate unacceptably long wait times for office hours, large discussion sections and a lack of connection with professors and faculty. 

One result of all these ongoing issues is the decision UC Berkeley has made to limit enrollment for “high-demand” majors, including  computer science in the College of Letters and Science starting in fall 2023. For the 2022-23 school year, the admission rate into this major was restricted to 2.9%, contrasting a 25.3% rate in the 2017-18 school year. 

We demand that campus urgently works to fund the EECS department with sufficient finance allocation measures and a financial contract to protect academic student workers. It is evident that the current budget is not sufficient to fund or hire more academic student workers and maintain the high capacity of students wishing to be enrolled in the major. There must be an immediate, long-term solution agreed upon by both campus and the EECS department to satisfy everyone involved.

Current negotiations between campus, the EECS department and United Auto Workers 2865 show some degree of hope for the future of the department. The department is unable to accommodate the increasing demand for computer science majors and courses. Student workers in the department find themselves overworked and exhausted from the overwhelming demand. This should not be the reality that UC Berkeley students or workers must face.

Campus has an undeniable responsibility in providing an equitable education for all its students. UC Berkeley is a public school, one that should boast inclusion and accessibility to every major or course. An admission rate of 2.9% for arguably the most popular major at UC Berkeley goes against everything a public school should stand for.

While several notable professors have taken significant action to save the computer science major, we urge students in the department to also actively engage in this issue. There is strength in numbers, and we strongly encourage everyone impacted to continuously put pressure on current negotiations to press forward with change.

World class education, particularly in computer science, is the hallmark of UC Berkeley. We hope to see real change on campus’s part to fund and, in good, honest faith, aim to fund the department so that every student can have the rightful opportunity to learn whatever they want at the school everyone believes in.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the editorial board as written by the spring 2023 opinion editor, Ashley Tsai. Contact the opinion desk at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter.

FEBRUARY 15, 2023