Letters for October 7 

Readers sound off on the slow-food movement, the BART connector, and Energy 92.7.

Page 3 of 4

While UCMeP continues to maintain 110 percent confidence in the magisterial abilities of President Yudof and the UC Board of Regents, we wholeheartedly believe that the privatization of the University of California can and should occur more efficiently and swiftly. Rather than a forward-looking "Commission on the Future," which has already been set up by Regent Russell Gould and President Yudof to facilitate the privatization of the UC, we propose a "Commission on the Now!" After all, why wait for tomorrow, when you can act today?

Our enduring belief in the maxim "time is money" has made our decision an easy one: UCMeP will take direct and immediate action to privatize now.

UCMeP's campaign is already well underway. In recent weeks, we have mobilized members of the UC community who share our conviction that the University of California has fallen dreadfully behind the times by pursuing a goal of excellence in public education. We believe that groups such as GSOC, SAVE, SWAT, AFSCME have declared war on the wrong enemies. President Yudof, UCOP, the UC Regents, and the California State Legislature are not responsible for the crisis we are now facing. These people are working tirelessly and getting paid top dollar to fix the University of California. They are developing innovative plans for transforming the UC from the best public university in the world to one that actually matters in society. We must recognize that the real enemies here are not our despotic leaders, but rather fiscally reckless priorities like student diversity and small faculty-to-student ratios. In response, then, to the demands demanded by our acronym-bearing brethren, UCMeP posits the following three demands of our own:

1.  We demand the end to all organizing, troublemaking, and general hullabaloo by UC faculty, staff, and students against the privatization of the University of California. In times of crisis democracy, shared governance, and public debate are only obstacles in the way of efficient privatization and must not be tolerated.

2. We demand that all demands for greater transparency of the University of California budget cease immediately. Transparency will only lead to further outrage and lend support to criticisms of President Yudof and the Regents, thus slowing the process of privatization.

3. We demand that the proposed impermanence of furloughs, layoffs, and "graduated" wage reductions be seriously reconsidered. Such "cost-saving" measures should be extended and expanded. UCOP was 110 percent correct in declaring that: "Suggesting that the families of the 3,600 people making over $200,000 per year should be affected exclusively and even more disproportionately that they are already to be affected is counterproductive." And only a 32 percent increase in tuition next year? Come on. Can't we do better than that? 

The State of California and UC leaders are working hard to maximize profits by selling off the reputation of the UC. Together we can make everyone's dream of privatizing the nation's best public university a reality.

Shane Boyle, Oakland

The UC Movement for Efficient Privatization

UC Budget Crisis Is a Community Issue

The UC Berkeley campus was quiet Thursday morning, the day of the UC campus-wide walkout. Not empty, but strikingly silent relative to the usual chaotic hustle and bustle between classes (as anyone who has ever tried to drive through campus at that hour well knows). Bike racks where coveted spaces are devoured by early morning lay half full at midday, with holes like missing teeth.

Picketers stood at each of the main entrances to campus with signs reading "Chop from the Top!" and "Public Education, Not Corporation," and trucks careening down the hill on Hearst Avenue honked enthusiastically responding to "Honk if you support public education!"

It's possible that most of the remaining buzz on campus had much to do with the commitment upheld by many professors to not only "walk out," but also "teach in," giving classes on the budget crises and opening up space for conversation and debate. Whichever the case, when the rally began at noon on Sproul Plaza, no class had any hope of competing over the cheers, the chants, and the excitement exploding in all directions. The sizable crowd — made up of students, faculty, university workers, and community members — packed into every inch of space on Sproul Plaza. Not a foot's width of space remained on any bench, fountain, tree limb, or stair.

In an age where the economy and the business model is leaving us disillusioned, we're looking to turn the institutions of higher education into corporations, where profit is key, quality is not priority, and we reward managers, not educators, for their efforts. Across the UC system, furloughs and pay cuts are rampant, and fees are increasing astronomically, to the extent that we'll very soon begin to see a drastic reduction in the diversity of the student body.  

In California, this is a major problem not just for students, future students, and parents. This is an issue for the entire state. If we head down this slippery slope we're looking down on now, we'll have universities that serve merely as a path to jobs that will pay off loans, no longer education to create informed citizens able to contribute their knowledge to our state. This is about the education of the people who in the future will be running this state, its government, its NGOs, its hospitals, the next generation of innovators. This is about the quality of education that Californians will receive, and who among us will even have the opportunity. 

We, the campus communities of the University of California, need to be reaching out to our respective communities beyond the campus, engaging with each other on this issue that will invariably affect all of our futures in large ways. We need to put pressure on the UC Regents and President Yudof to appropriately and transparently manage the UC budget, and perhaps rethinking Yudof's $900,000 salary up against the layoffs of workers making less than a 20th of that and the $30,000 it costs to keep the (now closed) UC Berkeley library open on the weekends. The fight to keep public education public is not a new one, but it's a fight worth fighting and a fight that will affect us all and will require unflinching effort, attention, and engagement across the state.

Maggie Q. Karoff, Oakland

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