Students just starting at UC Davis are about to be shocked by the instability of the UC system.
What some compare to being hit by a bus, or having cement shoes drag lifeful feet to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, others have grown to accept as the current trend in higher education.
There is no money. There are a lot of expenses. And we as students are paying the price.
Fall 2011 tuition for full time, California residents is $3,740. There will be a 9.6 percent increase for Winter 2012, bringing the quarterly expense up to around $4,100. Along with student services and campus fees, UC Davis students will be paying over $16,000 for the UC Davis 2011-12 school year.
Last week, the Regents discussed potentially raising fees up to $22,068 by the 2015-16 school year. That’s a 37 percent increase in just four years.
To add insult to injury, all budget-related documents come with this disclaimer: As a result of gubernatorial, legislative, Regental, and/or campus action, these fees may change without notice.
In other words, your life may change without notice.
This price system may work for supermarkets, but students do not work the same as customers observing a shelf of toilet bowl cleaners. Our education choice is not flexible, nor are our life goals arbitrary. When starting an education at UC Davis, we are committing to finish that education. There are no stipulations about our success being dependent on the political weather.
Students may notice money being spent in unexpected places, considering the current economic state of the UC system. A quick walk around the UC Davis campus reveals several buildings under construction; in August UC President Mark Yudof announced $140 million in merit-based faculty pay raises to dissuade academic talent from switching to private schools.
While these expenditures are frustrating, they speak to the dynamic complexity of campus priorities. Construction projects are commissioned and funded years in advance, often through money that has been allocated specifically for infrastructure. Non-represented faculty members have not seen a pay raise in four years.
So who should we blame for the rising cost of our education?
UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi says she sides with students and bemoans the dire condition of the state of California. Yudof, too, empathizes and publicly begs the state for more money. Gov. Jerry Brown — the man who signed a budget which shorted the UC system $650 million — also blames the state. But who is this “state” and how can we hold them accountable?
As it turns out, it’s us. There is no omnipotent Daddy Warbucks to undo the California state deficit. Student protesters often come across as angry children screaming for ponies in an abandoned stable. Student editorials are shoved in a memory box labeled “Adolescent Idealism.”
Well, here is your idealism: The California Aggie is starting this school year discouraged, eager to graduate before our major gets cut. It is a sad time at the University of California and the only thing we can do is continue learning, voting and reminding our representatives about the importance of higher education. Further more, with the hope that someday, when we run the state, things will get better.