Wednesday, November 14 , 2018, 8:20 pm | Fair 52º


UC Budget Crisis at Forefront of UCSB Teach-In

Speakers at the forum say administrative salaries and rising fees are taking a toll on higher education

Hundreds of students and others filtered in and out of UCSB’s Campbell Hall on Wednesday as part of “Defending the University: A Teach-In On the Current Crisis,” organized as an educational and political response to the University of California budget woes.

The teach-in came just weeks after students and faculty gathered on campus to protest fee hikes. Students returning to campuses this fall saw an increase in fees of nearly 10 percent, approved by the UC Regents in May.

Under fire is UC’s administrative compensation, in which UC President Mark Yudof makes $828,000 — a salary critics contend is double that of his predecessor. Turmoil also has been eminent within the university’s unions.

The Regents will meet again Nov. 17-19, when they’ll discuss another fee hike — one that would increase student fees 32 percent.

Privatization of the university, furloughs and fee hikes were all part of Wednesday’s discussion. Breakout sessions with titles such as “The UC Budget and California Tax Policy” and “The California Dream Act: Help for Undocumented Students” were held between speakers.

Several students spoke during the teach-in, including Reginald Archer, who said he moved from Florida to pursue graduate studies at UCSB.

“I’m here because of the system that’s here,” he said. “We need to save our most precious resources — the minds of the faculty, staff and students.”

Archer took issue with the fee increases and said many students felt resigned to accept them. “I’m not OK with that,” he said. “That’s unacceptable to me. It’s not coming out of my pocket.”

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Reginald Archer, who moved from Florida to pursue graduate studies at UCSB, was one of several students who spoke at Wednesday’s teach-in. “We need to save our most precious resources — the minds of the faculty, staff and students,” he said. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

History professor Nelson Lichtenstein offered historical context and talked about Clark Kerr, UC’s 12th president who expanded the system greatly to support the influx of baby boomers.

“Under Kerr’s tenure, UC students had no tuition and almost no fees,” he said, eliciting cheers from the audience. Kerr saw to it that the university resisted privatization and remained subsidized by taxpayers, “safe and accountable to democratic policies.”

Stan Glantz, a professor at UC San Francisco and a past chairman of the system’s committee on planning and budget, spoke about UC’s budget woes and their origins within the political landscape, taking specific issue with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cuts of higher education. Glantz was equally scathing in his treatment of former Gov. Gray Davis, and said no one was looking out for the interests of students and faculty.

“There’s no one that I see — not President Yudof, not the Regents, not the chancellors — whose out there defending the idea of public education,” he said.

Bob Samuels, UC president of the American Federation of Teachers, said the UC system doesn’t have a budget problem, but a priority problem.

The total UC budget is $20 billion, and expected funding cuts were $700 million to $800 million, less than 3 percent — all in addition to billions of dollars in assets, he said.

Undergraduates are already subsidizing research, instruction and other money-making activities, Samuels said.

“It makes no sense to cut undergraduate enrollment or increase student fees,” he said.

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

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