Students may come to class to no professor on the 24th, as many faculty have decided on a plan that will send a clear message to regents and California legislators.
A list of 16 University of California professors appeared at the bottom of a letter sent to faculty, asking those faculty members to join them in protesting the general condition of public education funding and the UC regents’ alleged abuse of shared governance.
“If we find the president’s disdain for collective decision making unacceptable, we must make it clear, collectively, that we will not accept it,” the letter read. “If we hope to intervene in the process of decision making that will determine the future of the UC system, we must interrupt our exclusion from that process – now.”
The letter was mainly provoked by regents’ decision to implement furloughs on non-teaching days, despite the faculty’s preference for them to occur on teaching days. Faculty who signed the letter felt that this decision violated the UC’s policy of shared governance, and that the decision was not made in the interest of the students or the university.
“[The reasons the faculty preferred instructional furloughs] pertain to the collective interests of all workers and students,” the letter read. “Instructional furloughs pressure the state to cease defunding the UC system, and they pressure the Office of the President to confront the fact that its overall approach to budget reform is unsustainable and unjust.”
Hundreds of faculty responded in support to the letter, which was sent on Aug. 31, and is endorsed by the American Association of University Professors. Organizers expect that more faculty will respond once it is recirculated today.
English professor Joshua Clover helped to craft the letter after seeing the amount of students in his introduction to poetry class increase from 80 to 140 in the last two years. He plans to send an e-mail to students before class informing them of his reasons for not attending class and providing them with a syllabus.
Clover will also include President Yudof’s e-mail address so that students might share their thoughts after the walk out, he said.
“This is the first step in the struggle for public education,” Clover said. “Students are getting less time and attention from their professors and they are being asked to pay more for this. It’s a situation that is affecting students and faculty equally so we need to push back.”
Each campus will organize their respective walkout in different ways. UC Santa Barbara, for instance, will hold classes to educate students on the current budget issues the UC system is facing. Berkeley, on the other hand, will hold no classes at all. UC Davis has not yet developed a cohesive plan.
Those participating in the walkout have made three demands: the first that no furloughs or paycuts be implemented on salaries below $40,000. The second states that the Academic Senate Council’s recommendation regarding the implementation of furloughs be instituted; the third that the UC Office of the President fully disclose the budget.
Faculty hope that the walkout will not only increase student awareness of the issue, but that it will be an exercise in solidarity with students, expressing their shared struggle for the future of public education, Clover said.
Many students agree that the condition of public education funding is poor, as seen by the recent increases in student fees, and that the walkout is a step in the right direction, said Jack Zwald, president of Students for Responsible Fees and ASUCD senator.
“Most students know that fees are increasing so I am pessimistic as to whether [the walk-out] will make a real change,” Zwald said. “However I’m glad that students and faculty are standing up and saying enough is enough. The only way we’re going to stop the terrible misuse of funding is if we start mobilizing.”
In response to the faculty’s disproval of the furlough plan, UCOP director of media relations Peter King stated that the plan was intended to benefit students.
“We simply just don’t agree that making students take one more dose of pain is consistent with the values of our plan in this crisis, which is to have a fair and shared pain throughout the system, as much as possible,” he said in an article in The Daily Californian.
For information and updates regarding the walkout, visit the faculty’s blog at ucfacultywalkout.wordpress.com.
LAUREN STEUSSY can be reached at email@example.com.