On Thursday afternoon, thousands of students, faculty and staff left their jobs and classes across 10 campuses to take part in the UC-wide walkout.
Participants protested the ways the UC Board of Regents and UCLA administration have handled statewide budget cuts.
This board stands in full support of the protesters who participated in Thursday’s march, but cautions that the march itself is only a symbolic step in a long road to the recovery of the UC system.
We as students are obligated to stay informed so that our grievances can be addressed. An increasing number of programs face the chopping block as the UC Regents cut back to meet state-mandated cuts and have proposed fee increases that could raise student fees to nearly $10,300 by next fall.
These changes to our university enhance the one-sided consumer relationship we students are forced to engage in with our education. Students are the customers locked into four years of purchasing the product of our education, and we have no choice but to continue consuming despite increasing fees for our learning. We have become the reluctant but reliable customers of what should be affordable, public higher education in a system that is beginning to look like a business more than an academic institution.
The proposed student-fee increases and program cuts will ultimately do the most harm to the students themselves, yet the students ““ unlike faculty and workers ““ have no one else to stand up in our name. Students have no union to represent our needs and voice our expectations to the powers of the UC system. This is the one product we can’t afford to boycott, but also one that we literally cannot afford.
The expectation that we will pay more money for fewer services and a decreased quality of education, with larger class sizes and fewer professors, is unreasonable ““ especially when only limited information about these changes is available.
These cuts will hit us the hardest. Those who are preparing to be productive and educated citizens are now going to be spending more time paying off an increasingly large college debt.
A strike can change the operation of a business, but the walkout won’t, and shouldn’t. It is symbolic, but it is not a solution.
But the editorial board also recognizes that it can’t offer a tangible solution; we can only implore the UC Regents and UCLA administration to open the dialogue to the thousands of people these sweeping cuts will inevitably affect.
This board acknowledges that these are not easy decisions at a time when there is no more additional funding, but asks that we, the proponents of the academic excellence of the UC, be engaged in the conversation about these decisions.
Throughout our education, we have been taught to ask questions and discuss rather than simply accept what we are told.
Without knowledge, the skills of the professors and students that one of the best public university systems in the nation prides itself on cannot be manifested. Let us prove our worth.
Just as we deserve transparency within this system, we also have a duty to inform ourselves. Students should use the facts they do have in a call for more. Our efficacy should be unmistakable and more than a symbolic march.