Sunday, April 21

UCLA faculty prepare for UC Board of Regents meeting


PART"ˆtwo IN"ˆA"ˆseries:"ˆmobilization efforts before the regents' meeting

Students will not be the only ones lobbying against a possible fee increase to be voted on next week by the UC Board of Regents.

The faculty of the University of California, who are experiencing pay cuts, furloughs and job losses all due to the statewide budget crisis, are calling for the board to find an alternative course of action to the proposed 32 percent increase in student fees.

Shelly Errington, professor of anthropology at UC Santa Cruz and chair of the executive board of the Santa Cruz Faculty Association, said faculty members are taking steps to prepare for the upcoming meeting.

“Many faculty members are reading and coming to understand the many reasons that tuition and fees should not be increased,” Errington said.

But UC Office of the President spokesman Steve Montiel said that without increased funding from the state, nothing else can be done that would make up the budget deficit.

However, Wendy Brown, a political science professor at UC Berkeley and co-chair of the UC Berkeley Faculty Associations, said students are not getting the whole truth when they are told that the fee increases are a last resort.

“Last resort means something like cashing in your retirement savings to pay your mortgage because otherwise you’ll lose your house,” she said. “You don’t do this unless you know that every other option for paying your mortgage has been exhausted.

“If we have really reached this last resort, let’s see the proof,” Brown said. “Faculty are petitioning the legislature and the regents to postpone a fee increase unless and until crucial questions about where fees are going and how they are justified can be answered.”

Faculty members said they are also worried that an increase in student fees will put the UC out of reach for many people financially.

“We do not think the UC has a budget crisis ““ it has a crisis in priorities,” said Robert Samuels, a lecturer at UCLA and president of the University Council of the American Federation of Teachers.

However, Montiel said privatization of the university is something that UC President Mark Yudof will not allow to happen.

“There is a deep commitment to there continuing to be a great economic diversity among the student body,” Montiel said.

During his time as president of the University of Minnesota, Yudof expressed interest in establishing a “hybrid university.”

As described in a 2002 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, a hybrid university would have characteristics of both a public and a private university, theoretically having a much more stable source of funding that would come from students.

“I think (a hybrid university) is wrong,” Errington said. “I don’t think it serves the interest of all the citizens of California. (The faculty and professors) came here because we believe in accessible, high-quality public education.”

However, some of the regents and even the governor seem to think that a hybrid university is superior to a public university, she said.

The priorities for the university are laid out in the 1960 master plan for higher education.

This master plan involves the education of students in a financially accessible and high-quality way, Errington said.

To try to ensure that these priorities survive the budget crisis, Regents Chairman Russell Gould launched a commission aimed at shaping a vision that will guarantee “excellence and access to the UC.”

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