Category Archives: UCLA

Repost: UC Board of Regents should be held accountable to students, faculty

This article was written by Francesca de la Fuente and was published on The Daily Bruin. The original article can be found here: UC Board of Regents should be held accountable to students, faculty

Back in November, the word on everybody’s lips was ‘regent’. “The regents are raising our fees!” “The regents don’t care for students!” “The regents changed the date to avoid students and protests!” There was a lot of talk about what they were doing, but barely any talk about who the members of the UC Board of Regents are. Who are they? How did they become regents? And who told them they could run the University of California, and all of its 220,000 students?

The reality about the regents is that the governor of California appoints the majority, arbitrarily, to 12-year terms, without factoring in the opinion of faculty, staff, alumni or students – as it should be done. The regents are currently unaccountable to the very people they are supposed to be supporting through four years of college: students. The fact that the governor chooses who gets to be on the Board of Regents insulates them and their decisions, however unpopular, from student and faculty opinions. If someone has the ability to make decisions for somebody else, without repercussions from that person, they have the freedom to do anything they want – literally. This is and always will be a dangerous way to run an administration.

The UC undoubtedly has earned its place as the best public school system in the country, so it appears the appointing system works. But there has to be a way to hold regents accountable to students and faculty. The governor could submit regent nominees to be approved by a university-wide referendum, at which point they could also be vetted by our student governments, people who were actually elected to represent the universities. Or, students and faculty could have the power to impeach regents they find substandard. Right now, the regents are protected from backlash by their set terms and appointments. The board should be democratized, in the interest of the entire University.

Democracy has a highly consistent track record in this country because we select our leaders ourselves – no one imposes them on us without our consent. In this way, elected government officials are held accountable to the people who chose them. If found unsatisfactory, they can be recalled (as Gov. Gray Davis was), and they can be voted out at the end of their terms (like former President George H.W. Bush).

This is your Board of Regents crash course: Back in 1878, appointing regents as opposed to electing them democratically seemed like a very good idea. The California Constitution explicitly states that ensuring that the university stays independent from the vagaries and hair-pin turns of politics is the intention behind appointing regents to the board (found in Article IX, Section 9 for those curious to know the rules). Appointments typically act as buffers, shielding board members from the winds of political change, and theoretically, allowing them to make decisions independently. Unlike elected officials, appointees don’t have to pander to constituents to keep their positions.

Out of 26 regents total, 18 are appointed by the current governor of California, one is a one-year-term student delegate, and seven are ex-officio regents by virtue of their elected positions in the California government or status as alumni. These seven are the governor, the lieutenant governor, the speaker of the assembly, superintendent of public instruction, the president and vice president of the Alumni Association of UC and the University of California president. They all stay on the board based on their terms in office.

The fact that the majority of regents are appointed to the board opens up a barrel of worms. Part of the problem with appointed positions is that the people who nominate regents grant these positions as gifts for campaign donations or for years of public service. Even though there is no salary for being a regent, the positions shouldn’t be treated as hobbies. Former Regent John G. Davies was appointed after he told Gov. Pete Wilson (for whom he was personal attorney) that being a regent “was something I would really like to do.” Accountability is not entirely present among the regents, both because of their appointments and their lack of in-depth information on university concerns. According to a report on the regents by The California Higher Education Policy Center several years ago, “The regents are part-timers who often cannot know enough about complicated university policy issues to make intelligent decisions.” As the regents only meet once every two months, for two days, they only have a limited time to delve into complicated issues all together.

Finally, there is the fact that students and faculty have almost no say in what the regents decide to do. Students are basically limited to standing up and giving brief speeches that the regents might consider in their discussions on certain issues, and faculty members are represented by two non-voting faculty regents. Back in November, the only thing we students could do to voice our displeasure with the regents and the fee hikes, was literally to voice our displeasure through protesting and demonstrating. Democratize the regents; students and faculty should have more influence on the system. We can’t afford to be without the power to control our own fates.

E-mail de la Fuente at fdelafuente@media.ucla.edu. Send general comments to viewpoint@media.ucla.edu.

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repost from occupyca: “the Game has begun.”

repost from occupy california:

Some friends have posted a call for contagious and competitive occupation –

take what is ours, because everything is ours

Here is a shout out to fellow west coast conspirators
for some good ol’ fashion insurrection!
Its a time of crisis,
but it sure don’t look like one yet!

So get going and bring it on,
because we are the crisis!
This is a call for a competitive occupation
to get things started:
this will be called the Game.
And this game never fucking ends!

– from The Imaginary Committee

Download the instructions here.

A useful reference – occupation: a do-it-yourself guide can be downloaded here

It’s time to get started.

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This Saturday, Dec. 5: Coordinating Committee Meetings: Northern California, Central California and Southern California

Locations: Nor-Cal: City College of SF (Mission Campus); So-Cal: Downtown UCLALabor Center; Cen-Cal: CSU Stanislaus (Turlock)

As can be seen by the powerful actions of Nov. 18-20, our struggle is gaining momentum! We need your help to coordinate on a regional and statewide level the struggle against the cuts, fee hikes, and layoffs. Everybody is invited to participate this Saturday (Dec. 5th) in the Regional Coordinating Committee to Defend Public Education meetings, which will be held simultaneously inSan Francisco, Turlock, and Los Angeles.

The purpose of these meetings is to organize next steps at each of our schools and on a statewide level to unite students, workers, and teachers and their organizations in defense of public education, leading up to the March 4 Strike and Day of Action.

Northern California Location: City College of SF Mission Campus – Rm. 201 (near 24th and Mission BART) – 1125 Valencia St – SF CA — Time: 1pm – 3pm

Central California Location: CSU Stanislaus, Room: MSR 130 – One University Circle, Turlock, CA: Note the Time11 am  3:15 pm

Southern California Location: Downtown UCLA Labor Center, 675 S Park View St -Los Angeles CA(Note: this is not on the UCLA campus): Time: 1pm – 3pm

Nor-Cal Contact: Jonathan, bruce_frusciante@hotmail.com, (925) 695-6840
Central-Cal Contact: Alejandra, xibalba81@yahoo.com, (209) 202 6157
So-Cal Contact: Julia, oolia17@gmail.com, (310) 404-6729

The volunteer Coordinating Committee was formed after the Oct. 24 Conference of over 800 students, workers, and teachers held at UC Berkeley. To join the Coordinating Committee listserve —  oct24coord@lists.berkeley.edu — please contact  oct24list@gmail.com if you would like to be added to the email list.

We encourage all individuals, activists, and organizations to join the Coordinating Committee and attend the regional meetings on Dec. 5th. It is open to all! 

In Solidarity,

The Follow-up Sub-Committee
Contact us at: march4strikeanddayofaction@gmail.com 

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March 4th – All of Education – Unite

“No cuts to Education – K-12 to the Universities”

March on Sacramento and Los Angeles Thursday, March 4th, 2010
 

  • Education has been under attack this year from K– 12 to the Universities.
  • In the past we resisted the cuts, separately at each level: K-12, Community Colleges, CSUs and UCs. Sometimes we even ended up competing with each other for the meager funds that were available
  • Now it is time for all of us to join together and act together – K-12 to the Universities.
  • We must show that we will not accept the degradation of the lives of millions of students, teachers and faculty, staff, workers and parents.
  • Let’s show our numbers and our power by all marching together to say No Cuts to Education.
  • We must feel our power by everyone coming together.
  • We propose that the march take place on March 4th. Why? March 4th is far away enough away that it gives us time to organize. The date is close enough that it is before the May revise to the budget. The date is before all the schools, colleges and universities begin their spring breaks.

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Talking Points on the UC Budget Crisis and Public Education

Many thanks to those who worked on these amazing talking points! Please check out the downloadable pdf bellow and distribute!

What’s happening with the UC budget? How did we get here?

  • The 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education gave all Californians the right to an affordable college education. In fact, in-state students’ fees were supposed to be only for “incidental costs,” not for tuition.1 High quality, accessible public education was once a major priority for California.
  • In 1978, CA Proposition 13 drastically reduced property taxes (a major source of funding for public education) and required a 2/3rds majority in the legislature to raise taxes again. 
  • In 2004, Governor Schwarzenegger and the UC administration signed the Higher Education Compact. Written during a time of economic prosperity, this document allowed UC to raise student fees by 10% each year and moved UC away from public funding by the state and toward private funding by individual and corporate donors.2 This shift from public to private funding is called privatization.
  • Why are so many people opposed to privatization? When UC is a public institution, it is accountable to the public — to tax payers and to the state. UC teaching, research and public service are considered a public good. If UC becomes a private institution, it will be accountable to private donors — to corporations and wealthy individuals. These donors will increasingly control the kinds of programs and scholarship UC can offer; our teaching and research will benefit corporate rather than public interests.
  • Today’s crisis — including over 900 layoffs, mandatory furloughs for faculty and staff, and a 32% increase in student fees — is not a sudden unexpected downturn, but part of a much longer trend of disinvestment in California public education, by both the state and the UC administration.
  • Undergraduate fees have increased over 117% since 2002. In 1988, fees for one undergraduate student represented 5% of the median family income for a California household. By 2008, fees represented 17% of the median family income.3 Recent reports demonstrate that since 2004 UC administration has pledged student fees for bond collateral and interest on construction projects.4

How are students being impacted by these decisions?

  • Students are being asked to pay thousands of dollars more in fees than they initially planned. Therefore, many students report that they will have to take on another job next year to cover the cost, reducing the time and energy that they can devote to their education. Claims that increased fees will be offset by increased financial aid opportunities actually just shift the burden from the university to individual students who must take on more debt, limiting their employment and graduate school opportunities or exposing students to predatory lending schemes similar to subprime housing loans. Many other students say they will not be able to afford to remain in the UC system. 
  • Students are paying more for less. Programs are being closed and instructors are being laid off. For example, The Dean the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences may cut the Textiles and Clothing program at UCD, the only of its kind in the UC. Students are fighting to keep it open.5 UC Davis also recently laid off all of its ESL lecturers in order to cut costs.6 As TAs become more expensive and the University cuts funds to hire instructors, we fully expect to see larger classes, larger and/or fewer discussion sections, and fewer course offerings, decreasing the educational value of UC Davis instruction and increasing the average time to degree. 
  • Crucial resources are becoming less accessible. Cowell Student Health Center, which serves UCD students, has had to cut hours of operation this year due to furloughs.7 The main UCD library has cut staff, reducing the number of librarians available and making it harder to get necessary research materials.8 Campus resource centers, which serve underrepresented and marginalized communities at UCD, have had to cut programming and hours to account for budget cuts this year. These are just a few examples of the ways student support and resources are dwindling on our campus. 

If the legislature is decreasing funding, why aren’t students just focusing on Sacramento?

  • We strongly advocate for public funding of public education, but we also demand that UC administration refocus spending on students and education and that they take responsibility for creating a public education system that the state would want to fund. 
  • Between 1997 and 2007, faculty increased by 24% and student enrollment increased by 39%, while senior management increased by 118%. A report by the UCLA Faculty Association estimates that UC would have $800 million each year if management had grown at the same rate as the rest of the university since 1997.9 $800 million would cover the fees for 100,000 resident undergraduates. UC Davis plans to close one of three low-income cooperative on-campus student housing projects, and plans to use that space to create more administrative offices. We want to know why administrative costs and resources continue to rise at the expense of student accessibility and affordability.
  • We think it is unacceptable that in a year when students must seriously consider whether or not they can continue to attend college, the president of the UC has a compensation package of $841,880,10 and the new chancellor of UC Davis is hired with a base salary of $400,000, which is 27% higher than that of her predecessor.11 
  • The UC Board of Regents consists of 18 members appointed by the governor for 12 year terms, one student regent appointed by the Board of Regents, and 7 non-voting (ex officio) members. Because of this structure, the Regents have no real accountability to students, faculty, or staff. And very few of the Regents even have a background in education.12 For example, Chairman Russell Gould is a former executive of Wachovia Bank, a corporation that directly profits from decreased funding of public education since it profits from an increase in student loans. We believe it is crucial to have accountability from the Regents, real student representation, and UC leaders with backgrounds in education.
  • Recent budget choices push resources away from students and education, and toward administrative and for-profit functions of the university. If UC administration continues to move toward a privatized, corporate model, it will be even harder to convince the state and tax payers to invest in the UC as a public education system. 

What can advocates for public education do to help?

  1. Contact UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi (530-752-2065, chancellor@ucdavis.edu) to ask that she publicly advocate for administrative transparency and a rollback of fee increases.
  2. Contact UC President Mark Yudof (president@ucop.edu) to demand accountability and transparency in administrative and budgetary decisions.
  3. Contact the UC Regents (http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/regents/contact.html) to demand that they revoke the fee increases and reverse the trend of privatization.
  4. Contact Governor Schwarzenegger (916-445-2841) and California legislators (http://www.legislature.ca.gov/) and ask them to make the Regents accountable to students and to the state, and to restore the state’s commitment to public education.

 

Downloadable PDF, please distribute!
 

UC Budget Talking Points

 

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Pictures from UCLA

Pictures from UCLA on November 19th

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Fees-to-Income Ratio = Unaffordable Higher Education

The following was written by and posted with permission from Ingrid Lagos, a grad student in Cultural Studies at UCD.

When university administrators talk about a hike in fees, some mention inflation, and try to normalize the increase by noting that fee increases have happened every couple of years since the institution can remember. While increases due to inflation for just about any product is reasonable, the kind of fee increases for UC fees in the last decade reflect a profound change in what affordable higher education means.

I was an undergraduate in 1988 at UCLA, followed by my brother 4 years later; my little brother was technically “priced out” out of Cal only 8 years after, when the university declared him out-of-state student because my parents had left the country (he had stayed in California). I graduated with virtually no loans, my brother graduated with 20K in loans, and the little one didn’t make it.

There are many ways to talk about what it means for a university to be public—one key aspect is affordability to the average taxpayer as part of the intrinsic responsibility written at the moment the state collects taxes. What does affordability mean? I did some numbers looking at my own reg fees:

In 1988 the total undergraduate resident university fees for UCLA printed in the catalog (88-89) were $1,491 per year. California’s household median income was $30,287. Fees represented 5% of the median income. In other words, a household would have to save 5% of its entire income to pay for one kid’s UC fees, this does not count room and board, books, etc. Not really affordable if you ask me, but perhaps doable.

In 2008 the total undergraduate resident fees for UCD printed in the catalog (08-09) were $9,496.60. California’s household median income was $57,014. Fees represented 17% of the median income. Which mathematically means that no median income household could possibly send their kids to college.

In 2010 the total undergraduate resident fees for UCs have been approved to be 12,323.95 (10,404.95 + 585 in Jan + 1,334 next year) for 2010-2011. I do not know what the projected median household income will be (not published by census yet), but say it’s $63,000. Then fees would represent 20% of household income. This means UC fees are absolutely unaffordable for most households in California.

Affordability is only ONE aspect of public higher education. Let’s not buy into a philanthropic solution, in which fees of average Californians are taken care of by private donors; public also means the ability to research without strings attached to private corporation’s interests. Let’s say no to the hike in fees and no to the private funding solution to make it affordable.

Ingrid Lagos, grad student in Cultural Studies.

Sources:
UCLA 1988 Catalog
http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/histinc/h08.xls
http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/22416
http://budget.ucdavis.edu/studentfees
For definition of “median household income”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Median_household_income

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