Rally-goers in the Quarry Plaza cheered in support for speakers holding signs that said everything from “Chop from the Top” and “Save Community Studies” to “UC System — by CA? Or for CA? Public Education Now.” The goals of this event were as varied as the signs.
While students and faculty met in the Quarry Plaza to protest the budget cuts, other faculty members showed their support by holding classes outside in a teach-out.
“We want to highlight the fact that UC has nearly $6 billion in unrestricted funds and insists on bad-faith bargaining with unions, tuition increases, layoffs, and the removal of important departments,” said Norah Hochman, a representative of the Coalition for University Employees and one of the event’s organizers.
The rally, held at 12 p.m. last Thursday, began with community studies professor Mike Rotkin’s opening remarks. Before addressing the crowd, he said he wanted students to be informed about the budget cuts.
“A lot of times when important decisions happen, they happen behind the scenes,” Rotkin said.
Writing 2 lecturer Derede Arthur had her 12 p.m. class attend the rally, and held her 2 p.m. class outside.
Arthur was concerned that many issues on campus are not as well-publicized as they should be. She said not enough faculty members knew about the teach-out, and wished she had seen more classes outside to make a stronger statement. Arthur recognizes that many students prefer not to think about the massive changes facing the school.
“Nobody was scared,” Arthur said, “and I think if you want to get people mobilized, you have to scare them. For most students, it’s next year’s bill, not this year’s problem.”
The rally drew attention to many ongoing problems the campus is facing. Reference librarian Ken Lyons criticized the sagging reduction in funds to the McHenry Library. Campus bus driver Steve Walker called attention to the cuts made to TAPS over the past four years. Third-year American studies major John Williams drew the crowd’s attention to a large banner displaying the juxtaposition between the university’s cuts and fee hikes.
Community studies professor Rotkin said he would like to see more cuts from the “top” and the “middle” and less from the “bottom” of the faculty and staff.
Public Information Office director Jim Burns, who did not attend the rally, reported that many of the cuts will be at the administrative level. He said the university is preparing for a $17.5 million cut over the next two years, and $11.4 million of those cuts will be in the administrative realm.
“Final decisions have not been made in the Social Sciences Division, although none of the decisions [being] considered will be pain-free,” Burns said. “They will be impactful. And that’s true of elsewhere on campus as well.”
Before the rally, Rotkin, who is also the vice mayor of Santa Cruz, admitted, “I don’t think a teach-out by itself is going to get the university to change its policies.” Instead, he hopes events like the teach-out will serve as a means to mobilize students.
Writing lecturer Arthur is leery of the university’s future direction.
“If you put a frog in boiling water, they’ll jump right out,” she said. “But if you put it in and run up the temperature little bit by little bit, they’ll cook to death. That’s what I think is happening. We’re cooking to death.”