Next week, the future of UC students, faculty and workers could all change. The UC Regents will meet Nov. 17 to Nov. 20 at UCLA to vote on raising student fees by 30 percent.
This is after voting last summer to raise student fees by 9 percent. This is after implemented furlough days for UC faculty and staff, where they are required to take unpaid days off. This is after UCs experienced cuts to programs and classes, where students and workers all have to do and pay more, only to receive less education, services and compensation.
The Student-Worker Action Team at UC Berkeley called for a UC-wide student and teaching strike beginning Nov. 18, the second day of the regents meeting. The major demand is that the UC Regents vote no on the proposed fee increases. They also call for a stop to cuts and layoffs to UC workers. They want to continue the strike if the regents vote to pass the fee increases and continue with the furlough program.
“But to the extent that we call for an event with a predetermined end-date, we risk a purely symbolic action,” they wrote. “Walkouts, strikes, library sit-ins: these are powerful because they affect the university materially as well as symbolically.”
On their Web site, students, faculty and staff have signed a petition to pledge their support for the strike. The University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE) union, made up of over 11,000 UC employees, also pledged to protest.
UC Santa Cruz students have shown tremendous support, following UC Berkeley in the number of signatures. However, the overall number of signatures at press time was about 1,500, a dismal number compared to the approximately 220,000 students in the entire UC system. Many professors at UC Berkeley and UC Davis have pledged online to cancel courses for the day. On the UCSC Web site, none have done so.
We’ re calling on the UCSC community to pledge and support the strike: it our last chance to show our united dissent, distaste and disdain for the regents’ actions.
In an open letter to UC students, Robert Meister, president of the Council of UC Faculty Associations, wrote that many people make excuses for not protesting. Maybe it’s because they have classes they don’t want to miss. Maybe it’s because they believe it’s a statewide budget issue and the UC crisis is a reflection of those times. Maybe it’s because this is not the time and place to address these issues.
Meister, who is also a professor of political and social thought at UCSC, gave a simple reply to those concerns. He wrote one “should not conclude that, if a problem exists everywhere, it can’t be confronted anywhere; nor should [one] conclude that if a problem is ongoing, it can’t be addressed now.”
We agree with him when he says the UC has “a large body of students, faculty and staff who are ready to be educated and engaged in action” and that this is the “place and time for us to confront a wider long-term problem.”
UCSC hosts many of these people. The spirit of activism runs deep at our campus. Even if you haven’t participated in a protest before, now is the time — the last chance to walk out and speak up before it gets worse.
Imagine what Nov. 18 could look like: Northern California students rallying at UC Berkeley, Southern Calfornia schools congregating at UCLA to protest the regents meeting. At UCSC, there will be a protest in the Quarry at noon, to be followed by a march down to the base of campus at 2 p.m.
On that day, we could stand by our fellow Slugs, UC students, faculty and workers to show — not just tell — the UC Regents that we want change.
In his infamous quote to the New York Times Magazine, UC President Mark Yudolf caused an uproar when likened his job to being a manager of a cemetery. “There are many people under [me],” he said. “But no one is listening. I listen to them.”
Here’s our chance to rise from the dead. We are no longer dormant. By walking out, we will let Yudolf hear us loud and clear that we do not accept more student fee increases.