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UCSB Students, Faculty Take a Stand for Higher Education

In a show of solidarity with a UC faculty walkout, hundreds have their say on funding priorities amid California's budget woes

Students at UCSB were greeted by more than new classes on their first day of school Thursday as faculty, staff and students participated in a Day of Action.

The UC System is facing budget troubles that include fee hikes and furloughs, so university stakeholders came together to put on an educational rally.

The rally was part of the Option 4 movement, which discusses California’s budget crisis and its effect on public education. The University Professional and Technical Employees union participated in a strike and pickets Thursday as well as supporting the rally.

English professor Aranye Fradenburg was one of many to speak and add their names to a 1,227-signature petition for Thursday’s UC system faculty walkout in solidarity with students and staff.

“We promised people access to the best educational opportunities in the world, regardless of the ability to pay,” she said of the UC system. She called for an end to layoffs, furloughs, fee hikes and lowered faculty salaries.

Like many of the faculty and student speakers, she stood up for liberal arts education, which is sometimes lower on the funding priority scale.

Many UPTE members were in attendance, and legislative director Rodney Orr said the universities are about the students, faculty and staff, not the UC Regents or president Mark Yudof. “We need to speak for ourselves,” he said.

The union represents more than 300 members, and its one-day strike against the UC system comes from dissatisfaction with contract negotiations. The process is 18 months old and no closer to resolution, Orr said. UPTE has a bargaining session scheduled with the university Friday.

Fee hikes are already a reality in the public university systems, and UCSB students saw a 9.63 fee increase this year, said Paul Desruisseaux, associate vice chancellor for public affairs.

“Does anyone here have $10,302?” asked Laurie Monahan, associate professor of the history of art and architecture. “Because you’re going to need to have it next year.”

Students should get the classes they need and want and get a proportionate outcome for their investment — not paying more for less, she said.

“There’s nothing cost effective about shortchanging you for education and charging more for doing that,” Monahan said.

Hundreds of students attended the rally and many carried signs of their own, calling out Yudof and the fee increase without increased benefit.

The touchy subject of administrative salaries got a lot of play Thursday. Yudof pulls in a compensation package that is valued at $828,000, which includes allowances for housing, transportation and official entertainment, according to the news release announcing his hiring in 2008.

The system needs to be re-evaluated with a clear move toward new priorities, Chicano studies postdoctoral fellow Daphne Garcia said. Now, there are disproportionate raises to administration and cuts to faculty and staff. “That’s where the real insult is,” she said.

In an area as expensive as Santa Barbara, the cuts make a real impact on people trying to make a living, she said.

The next step is an Oct. 14 Teach-In, which will focus on the “current crisis at the University of California, and the larger crisis in state politics, public finance and education it reflects,” according to Option 4.

UCSB is the only university with events planned, but organizers are hoping more campuses hold similar workshops. There will be workshops, panel discussions and more in Campbell Hall from 3 p.m. on, possibly until midnight.

“We need to raise consciousness for everyone,” Orr said.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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