Students demand free education in opposition of highly paid UC administrators
A group of approximately 30 students marched from the Memorial Union (MU) flagpole to Mrak Hall on March 2 at 12 p.m. in an effort to prove to the UC that administrators cannot steal student dollars and dodge criticism.
After a six-year tuition freeze, the Regents voted on Jan. 26 to raise in-state tuition by $336 per year and by $1,688 per year for out-of-state students, totaling $12,630 and $40,644, respectively. As reported by The California Aggie in January, this 2.5 percent increase will go toward supporting growth of the UC.
However, students are unhappy with the bigger checks they will be forced to write in the following years.
“[The hike] sounds insignificant, especially to the Regents, but when you’re a full-time student it’s huge,” said Parker Spadaro, a first-year political science major and the deputy organizing director of the ASUCD Office of Advocacy and Student Representation. “$300 can [pay for] more than 30 meals [and] $1,000 can go toward funding another month of rent.”
Students argued that the state — not the students — should be funding the UC, as it initially did when the it was first established. ASUCD Senator Daniel Nagey stressed the importance of students protesting the tuition hike since the UC will continue to raise fees if administrators think such actions can go by unnoticed.
“Regents think that they can make these tuition hikes without students getting mad,” Nagey said. “This has real effects on students who are already struggling. Tuition is already way over what it should be so even an extra $300 is just absurd.”
While working closely with ASUCD, Spadaro said the collective efforts of students who simply passed out fliers or rallied their friends and communicated through the Facebook event page made the demonstration possible. They stressed the relevance of gathering students to protest the administrators.
“We need to organize and fight back or else they’re just going to keep brutalizing our students, especially through financial violence,” Spadaro said.
The students came prepared to stand up to the UC with signs that read “Poorever in debt,” “Fund our future, not your paycheck” and “Student debt? Indentured servitude.” The students held up their signs at the MU flagpole to a touring group of prospective students, advising them not to attend UC Davis since they will be robbed of their money.
Afterward students marched through the CoHo and then through the Quad to reach Mrak Hall, the building home to UC administrators. Spadaro led students in various chants: “They raised our fees despite our pleas,” “What do we want? Free tuition. When do we want it? Now” and “Hey hey UCD, cut those admin salaries.”
At Mrak Hall, Spadaro discussed the absurdity of such tuition raises on top of existing student pressures.
“Students have to starve and work themselves to death to avoid debt,” Spadaro said. “No student should have to worry about paying for their classes more than their actual classes.”
Spadaro led the protesters in another chant: “Raise your hand, make a fist, we the students will resist.”
“State funding is an issue, but there’s also the issue of what we are doing with the money that we actually have,” said Duane Wright, a Ph.D. candidate in the department of sociology. “We aren’t putting it toward education, we aren’t putting it toward students. [Instead, administrators] are making $400,000 a year outside [their] job.”
Spadaro urged UC administrators to stop “being selfish” and start taking responsibility for their positions.
“They shouldn’t be our enemies, […] they need to actually be on our side and fight for us,” Spadaro said. “They need to either cut their own salaries and actually be in it for the students instead of for the money; or if they’re going to keep their salaries they need to lobby for legislators to fund the UC.”
Spadaro added that there must be UC-wide collaboration to help drive the uphill battle against tuition hikes. Meanwhile, students are encouraged to sign a petition for corporations rather than students to pay for the additional funding.
To sign the petition, please visit fundtheuc.org.
Written by: Jeanna Totah — firstname.lastname@example.org