Physics professor Markus Luty said it best when he addressed students and faculty at Thursday’s walkout rally.
“The problems [associated with budget cuts] did not start this year,” he said. “Since the early 1980s, higher education funding has been cut by more than any other major sector of the state budget. It is the only sector that had a reduction in real per capita revenues between 1984 and 2004 … State support was cut by 25 percent this year.”
Now here’s a guy who really put some thought into this.
Though we commend students and faculty for being vocal about the value of education, certain aspects of these protests were marked by emotional and irrational criticism, instead of informed statements.
Students chanting “UC-Slavery” are insulting those who actually endured the confines of slavery. “Cutting from the top” would merely be a drop of water in an ocean of deficits.
If the “students united will never be divided,” as many chanted during a march to Mrak Hall, then they must unite over a legitimately unifying cause – even if this means becoming divided from the desires of their professors.
The university budget currently operates on a delicate balance – if one sector wants money, another will suffer from cuts. And while it’s clear that the state of California must reorganize its priorities, students and faculty must also examine their own priorities for a focused and constructive solution.
For example, many believe that laying off President Yudof will solve the concentration of higher salaries within the UC Office of the President. However, the same people who hired Yudof would then hire another president, with a similar vision. It’s not the people who are running the system causing fees to increase, it’s the state system itself. This is what students should be targeting.
Instead of aimlessly asking regents for more money, perhaps we should be asking the state for a specific way of getting this money. One solution would be to tax oil companies in order to fund higher education. Another solution is to lobby the capitol – it’s only 15 minutes away and we have a student lobby corps on campus to organize such efforts.
The university truly is receiving less money from the state. The only way we can get any of that money back is to funnel the energy and motivation behind last week’s rally into a clear-cut message to state lawmakers.