Last week, as news stories of skyrocketing student fees once again littered the pages of California newspapers, Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi sat down with The California Aggie and informed UC students that they must be the ones responsible for stopping their own financial fleecing. Garamendi was quoted as saying, “The students need to rise up and raise hell. If that doesn’t happen, then this fee increase will continue.“
Forgive me for being blunt, but in my opinion, Garamendi’s statement is the equivalent of telling a man on the way to the gallows to inform the hangman if the noose fits too tight around his neck. I understand that Garamendi has been leading the charge for affordable education in California, but when did it become the responsibility of the persecuted individual to rise up and speak out against injustice?
Last year, I devoted the majority of my columns to highlighting the wide variety of mistreatment that UC students receive from our elected officials and administration – specifically the UC Board of Regents and their ever-increasing student fees. Those of you who were fortunate enough to have followed my column last year know that, for the most part, our elected officials could care less about the opinion of students, and generally see the institution of public education as a financial burden rather than a sound investment. Now, after a year of raising my voice and chronicling the administration’s disregard for student interests, I’m being informed that the reason we have not received financial relief is that students aren’t pissed off enough yet.
And so, I return, for yet another year of ranting in order to help our state government officials see just how pissed off the UC student body really is. However, both John Garamendi and I know that students simply raising their voices will never be enough. I’m sure that Lieutenant Governor Garamendi, as well as the other members of the board of regents, have witnessed the droves of student demonstrators that usually congregate outside their meetings. Perhaps they have even shared my experience of seeing the occasional group of students escorted out of their meetings by armed police officers, usually as a result of rising up and raising just a little more hell than the regents could handle.
It seems a tad inconsistent that, in one moment, a member of the board of regents sits down with students and charges them with the responsibility of becoming overly vocal hell raisers, and in the next stands aside as their voices are silenced and ignored by the administration.
At this point in the article, some of you are probably scratching your heads, utterly dumbfounded by the existence of such contradictions in our government’s behavior, and asking, “So what’s the answer?”
Unfortunately, to properly answer that question would require far more space than the remaining inches of this column, but what I will say is this: Lieutenant Governor Garamendi was wrong when he told students that raising hell was the way to initiate change. I, along with the UC Board of Regents, have seen far too many mindless hell-raisers adopt the students‘ cause. These students have raised their voices in ignorance, recklessly condemning the administration without knowing who or what it is they’re fighting, and their irresponsible actions have caused our elected officials in Sacramento to greatly discredit our cause. I write this column because I believe the best weapon against the injustices being done to students is not a raised voice, but an informed mind. I urge all of you who are new to this struggle to follow along with me each week and educate yourselves on the matters at hand, so that one day you may be knowledgeable enough to stand before the opposition and speak in a calm and controlled voice, confident in the fact that you are right.
JAMES NOONAN is hoping he can count on the UC Board of Regents to supply him with another year’s worth of material. Something tells him they won’t let him down. Show him your support at email@example.com.