Troubling Times for the University of California

Occupy+Davis%3A+Thousands+of+college+students+attended+protests+at+UC+Davis+in+November.+Much+of+the+protests+have+been+in+response+to+the+use+of+pepper+spray+against+Occupy+protestors+on+the+campus+quad.+Photo+by+Melissa+Uzes.
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Troubling Times for the University of California

Occupy Davis: Thousands of college students attended protests at UC Davis in November. Much of the protests have been in response to the use of pepper spray against Occupy protestors on the campus quad. Photo by Melissa Uzes.

Occupy Davis: Thousands of college students attended protests at UC Davis in November. Much of the protests have been in response to the use of pepper spray against Occupy protestors on the campus quad. Photo by Melissa Uzes.

Occupy Davis: Thousands of college students attended protests at UC Davis in November. Much of the protests have been in response to the use of pepper spray against Occupy protestors on the campus quad. Photo by Melissa Uzes.

Occupy Davis: Thousands of college students attended protests at UC Davis in November. Much of the protests have been in response to the use of pepper spray against Occupy protestors on the campus quad. Photo by Melissa Uzes.

Chris Henn

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Occupy Davis: Thousands of college students attended protests at UC Davis in November. Much of the protests have been in response to the use of pepper spray against Occupy protestors on the campus quad. Photo by Melissa Uzes.

Ten U.C. Davis students were arrested and two more hospitalized after being pepper sprayed by campus police during a protest on Friday, November 18.

The day before, students set up a tent encampment, a violation of campus policy. They were given until 3 p.m. on Friday to remove their tents, and after that police began to take down the remaining tents. Students knelt on the ground, arms linked in protest, when two officers pepper sprayed them.

“Shame on you,” the protesters chanted to the police as the spraying took place.

According to the Sacramento Bee, the officers said the students were blocking their path. A video posted to YouTube suggested otherwise.

The video, which has now been viewed more than a million times, shows police officers walking freely past the protesters, then using pepper spray twice in attempt to break them up:

Similar events took place at U.C. Berkeley on November 9, when campus police clashed against student and staff Occupy protesters. Former Poet Laureate of the United States and Pulitzer prize winner Robert Hass, along with Associate Professor Geoffrey O’Brien were struck by batons, according to the Davis Faculty Association (DFA).

“A couple of students had pushed forward in the excitement and the deputies grabbed them, pulled them to the ground and cudgeled them, raising the clubs above their heads and swinging,” Hass wrote in a piece for The New York Times.

In an open letter posted online, the DFA requested that U.C. Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi resign, calling her “unfit to ensure the safety of students.”

Katehi defended herself in a town hall meeting: “I explicitly directed the chief of police that violence should be avoided at all costs. It was the absolute last thing I ever wanted to happen,” she said.

Student opinions on Katehi differ. “If she’s not able to regain the trust of students, then I think she won’t be an effective chancellor any more and in that case she should resign,” said Davis student and former Tam News editor Sam Mandell.

Meanwhile, a planned Regent meeting discussing the possibility of an additional 81 percent tuition increase was put on hold. U.C. President Mark G. Yudof stated in a press release on Tuesday that a full review of events on the 18 would be conducted.

U.C. Board of Regents chair Sherry Lansing addressed students in a video: “We want all of you to know that we fully and unequivocally support your right to protest peacefully,” she said.

Students at U.C. Berkeley set up their tents once again, this time floating them in the air with helium balloons in response to the University’s statement that tents could not be set up the ground in Sproul Plaza.

The Regents meeting has been rescheduled to November 28.

Increasing Tuition Costs

While much of the outrage in the recent protests has been directed towards the use of police force, they originally started out as an objection against rising tuition fees.

Tuition has roughly doubled from $6,312 in 2005 to $13,218 in 2009. The University of California plans to further increase tuition costs as a way to counteract dwindling state support.

In the agenda for the planned Regents meeting, the University of California mentioned that state funding has been reduced from $3.25 billion in 2007 to $2.37 billion in 2011, a 21% percent decrease. According to the agenda, “Historically, the State portion of the University’s core funds has been the largest single fund source providing core support for the University. This is no longer the case.”

The University of California went on to say that the state did not provide any budget for enrollment growth. In 2009-2010, the University of California accepted 15,000 more FTE (full-time equivalent) students than previous years. “The extraordinary reduction in State support over the last several years effectively means that the State is not providing support for more than 24,000 California residents,” read the meeting’s agenda.

The lack of state support was temporarily offset by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds in 2007-2010. Still, the University has yet to find a more future-proof method for ensuring it’s fiscal stability. One of the ways it plans to respond is by enrolling more out-of-state students, who have to pay more tuition costs (out-of-state students make up about 7 percent of UC students currently.)

Increasing tuition prices is hardly an end-all solution to the University’s budget problems. While State funds are guaranteed to be put towards certain uses, the University is free to use tuition fees, which count as private funds, for whatever it chooses. High tuition costs also raise problems for students who can’t afford the cost of a UC.

“A lot of students have left because they can’t afford to pay tuition any more, or have taken jobs or second jobs,” said Mandell.

“I work on campus, and I see my coworkers struggling to have enough money for food (on top of rent and tuition.) If tuition is raised [a proposed further] 81 percent, I have a feeling that a lot of people will not be able to go to Davis just because it will be so expensive, especially for a public school,” said Tam alumnus and UC Davis student Melissa Uzes.

“I think the tuition increases are making it much harder to be a good student, because people have so much on their plate that they need to survive more than they need to get good grades,” continued Mandell. Mandell, who works on campus, says she has started working more hours to compensate for rising costs.

27 of 161 accepted Tam students attended a U.C. in 2011. This a sharp drop from the 52 of 247 accepted Tam students who went to a U.C. in 2010. While it’s likely that rising prices aren’t the only cause, they definitely play their part. More students at Tam are also looking beyond U.C.s, where colleges in the Western Undergradute Exchange (WUE) offer a similar education for often lower prices. The total estimated cost of out of state tuition for 2011-2012 is $36,000, which is closer to a private school ($42,000+) than ever before.

The U.C. acknowledged some of these issues in the same agenda for the November 17th Regents meeting: “The University cannot indefinitely accommodate larger numbers of students without adequate resources needed to provide them a U.C.-caliber education. The dilution of State funding over larger numbers of students results in a lower quality experience for all members of the U.C. community.”

1 Comment

One Response to “Troubling Times for the University of California”

  1. Anonymous on December 9th, 2011 1:09 pm

    UC campus chancellors must act to decrease the cost of higher education at University of California.

    University of California Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau hijack’s all
    our kids’ futures.

    I love University of
    California (UC) having been a student & lecturer. Like so many I am deeply
    disappointed by the pervasive failures of Birgeneau from holding the line on
    rising costs & tuition increases. On an all in cost, Birgeneau has molded Cal. into the most
    expensive public university.

    Paying more is not a
    better education. Instate tuition consumes 14% of Calif. median family income! Faculty wages must reflect California’s ability to pay, not what others
    are paid.

    Chancellor Birgeneau ($450,000
    salary) dismissed many much needed cost-cutting options. He did not consider
    freezing vacant faculty positions, increasing class size, requiring faculty to
    teach more classes, doubling the time between sabbaticals, freezing pay &
    benefits, reforming pensions & health benefits.

    Birgeneau said such
    faculty reforms “would not be healthy for Cal”. Exodus of faculty, administrators: who
    can afford them?

    We agree it is far
    from the ideal situation. UC Berkeley cannot expect to do business as usual:
    raising tuition; granting pay raises & huge bonuses during a weak economy
    that has sapped state revenues & individual Californians’ income.

    Birgeneau can bridge the trust
    gap with alumni, donors, politicians, and the public with reassurances that salaries
    & costs reflect California’s
    ability to pay.

     

    We must act. Chancellor
    Birgeneau’s campus police deployed violent baton jabs on students protesting
    increases in tuition. The sky above UC will not fall when Chancellor Birgeneau
    ($450,000 salary) is ousted.

     

    Opinions? Email the UC Board
    of Regents  marsha.kelman@ucop.edu

     

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




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