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Davis

Davis, California

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Systemwide walkout hits UC today

Over 100 UC Davis professors will not show up to classes today.

The systemwide walkout aims to bring attention to the cuts being made across the nine UC campuses.

Many students and staff-members are participating in order to protest the program of furloughs, fee hikes and enrollment cuts that the administration will levy over the next year.

“The university administration pushed through a number of extraordinary budget changes over the summer, using ’emergency powers’ and counted on nobody being around to challenge them,” said Joshua Clover, associate professor of English in an e-mail interview. “This is an unprecedented coalition of students, workers and faculty struggling together to defend public education in California.”

One point of contention is the issue of faculty furloughs, or unpaid working days. UC regents implemented a plan that requires faculty to take between 11 and 26 furlough days, scheduled on days when they won’t be teaching.

The decision was made despite the opinion of a majority of faculty who supported furloughs on days of instruction.

In an open letter to the faculty, Chancellor Katehi defended the administration’s decision, stating that the plan supports the best interests of the students.

“I advised the president that faculty not use furlough days on days of face-to-face instruction because of the additional hardship it potentially would cause for our students,” Katehi said in the letter. “I also expressed concern that such an action would be perceived as further burdening our students in order to make a political point with Sacramento.”

Clover admitted that while canceled classes due to furloughs would affect students’ education, he echoed the faculty’s determination to act on behalf of the campus community.

“What is harming the education of the students is the radical de-funding of education by the State of California; the cuts to education and services by the administration; and the increased fees that drive students further into debt,” he said. “Don’t ask [the students] to pay more, and don’t ask anyone to do extra work to cover for the administration’s choices.”

Among the many employee unions participating in the walkout are the University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE), which represents campus computer and technical specialists as well as staff research, associates.

UPTE members are currently working without a contract with UC and have been negotiating for over a year and half, said Kevin Scott, a research associate in the department of viticulture and enology. He said that UPTE was protesting the university’s failure to bargain in good faith.

“When the university comes to contract negotiations, they are supposed to present meaningful offers,” he said. “However, the university has repeatedly showed up with nothing to put on the table. Instead it has stalled and dragged the negotiations out. Legally, this falls under the category of unfair labor practices.”

ASUCD vice president Chris Dietrich is supportive of the walkout as sending a message to the administrators but emphasized the need for follow-up action to be taken.

“One day of protesting is not going to be enough,” he said. “Students need to go to regents’ meetings and meet with legislators in the capitol to make the case for why funding should be given to the UC system. It is important that students are involved in the process.”

Meanwhile, some students question both the motives behind the walkout as well as its effectiveness.

“It just seems disingenuous,” said an ASUCD official who chose to remain anonymous for fear of teacher retribution. “The university has been raising our fees for years and now that the professors stand to lose a little bit of money, they finally decide to make a stand. I just don’t think the faculty is acting on behalf of students.”

The source also disagreed with the method of protest, which the source said negatively impacts students.

“It is estimated that students pay about 35 dollars per lecture hour,” the source said. “If you do the math, the walkout is costing UC Davis hundreds of thousands of dollars for a protest that the administration will only ignore.”

Students, staff and faculty members that choose to participate in the walkout will gather in rallies around campus, which will culminate in a large rally at noon on the quad. For more information, visit ucfacultywalkout.com

 

ERICA LEE can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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