Live-Blog: UC Berkeley Faculty Teach-In

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The Daily Californian's Javier Panzar is on-scene and live-blogging at the faculty teach-in at Wheeler Auditorium.

7:22 pm

Students, staff, and faculty are packed in Wheeler Auditorium to hear UC Berkeley professors speak about the budget crisis, in anticipation of the systemwide walkout scheduled for tomorrow.

Professor Peter Glazer stood at the podium moderating. "Look around you, look at the people gathered around in this room," Glazer said. "We have never been gathered like this before."

Glazer went on to add that the fact that those gathered at the teach-in were informing one another was key to understanding the call for a walkout. "Public education in California is at risk. Our problems are not simple ones ... the details are essential to understanding."

He concluded his speech addressing the budget cuts coming from the state and the UC Office of the President, "They tell us that we have no choice, they are wrong."

7:30 pm

The problem of state funding of public education dates back to 1978 when the state legislature passed Proposition 13, according to speaker Kevin Padian, a UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology. That proposition reduced property taxes, which were the main source of funding for the UC system.

"It's not a walkout in the traditional sense, its a teach-in, it's a tremendous opportunity to educate yourself," Padian said.

Padian elaborated on the purpose of the walkout. "It's not about cuts to faculty and staff, it's not about furloughs ... It's about cuts to institutional support."

7:45 pm

Ananya Roy, professor of city and regional planning, was met with thunderous applause after telling the audience, "I will walk out because we all have to make visible the crisis of state de-funding ... we have to convince California to stand with us in solidarity."

She added, "I reject the idea that I can only keep my job at the expense of others."

Roy also said she does not think an online UC campus is an acceptable alternative during a time of budget crisis.

7:54

Catherine Cole takes the stage saying her life was saved by cancer researchers from the UC system and that with current cuts the system will face "collapse." Cole urged students to "demand the education that you paid for," adding that the current generation of students have the ability to affect change in the UC system.

"Your generation has vast powers ... you will be at the forefront of this movement," she said. "We will be your guides."

Cole went on to reiterate the need for shared governance. Chief among the faculty grievances is that UC President Mark Yudof created the UC Commission on the Future without enough faculty presence. "How you frame a problem powerfully determines its outcomes," she said.

8:00 pm

Robert Reich ascends the stage with his presentation, "What's Public About a Public University? and Why That's Public."

8:08 pm

Reich speaks about the public good that a public education provides, "Over the last few years there is a huge mistake that has been made ... that an education is a private investment."

"There is no institution that generates that much public good as a public university," Reich said. "Let's get out of the frame of reference of private investment and let's talk about public investment."

8:22 pm

Reich says we are living off the public investments of the post-war generation. "We are taking that ... and we are squandering it, we are tearing it apart."

Reich says people need to go out and talk to others."It's not hard to convince ourselves. The people we need to engage with (are) those who don't share our beliefs ... We want to talk to them. We need to bridge that gap. What has happened in this state is a tragedy."

Reich describes the state government, "This is the worst government I have ever seen."

Reich strongly encouraged the community to get out and be activists, "I don't blame Robert Birgeneau, I don't blame Mark Yudof, I don't blame the governor, I don't blame the Assembly, I blame ourselves for turning our back on the problem and not addressing the problem."

He added, "We have so much talent in terms of problem solving, we have a fabulous faculty that understands public problems, why can't we get together and try to solve some of these problems?"

Responding to audience member shouting "Who elected the regents?" Reich said, "You want rational support. Yes, let's have more transparency, but let's also use our talents to face our largest problem which is a government that does not work."

He leaves the stage amidst thunderous applause.

8:36

Political science professor Wendy Brown adds more to the history of Proposition 13. She describes the "tax revolt" with its two-thirds majority rule to increase taxes as "rebellion against democracy ... you keep what you earn and no democracy can tell you otherwise."

According to Brown, privatization of the university will do the following:

1. Decreased commitment to educating the best students. "Student access will increasingly be driven by (their) purchasing power," she said.

2. Increased inequality throughout the UC system.

3. Decreased support for non-entrepreneurial segments of the UC which would affects humanities and art programs.

4. Deteriorating support for exploratory research that is widely understood as a fundamental to expanding knowledge.

5. Research curved towards sponsors, risking compromise. Changing nature of research to attract money.

6. Privatization means restricted freedoms.

7. Increased exploitation of workers. Historically more hostile to unions.

8. Shrinking of all public values.

9. Replacement of shared governance.

10. Education increasingly becoming cold and machine-like with terms like, "efficient educational delivery systems."

Brown describes Yudof as "symptom in language of what privatization entails."

Privatization of a public university means narrowed access and expanded inequalities.

8:41

A student wants to know what the panel would ask of the university administrators.

Reich: time table, details of budget cuts on internet.

Kyle wants to check his summary of the evening's points:

1. Panel wants the students to realize our political potential

2. Utilize potential to convince community to restore majority rule, and vote to restore new levels of taxation and revenue streams that go straight to heart of UC system

Brown: "I'd want to add unless we can restore an appreciation of the public institution as opposed to measuring everything by measure of market."

8:43

Glazer warns against a simple summary of issues. "This is not a sound byte solution, this is an engagement in complex conversation."

Reich says: "We are a learning community, the last thing anyone wants you to do is take our values and use them to convince others." He added that this struggle is also the students'.

8:46

Brown supports student fee boycott as proposed by one student.

Reich warns not to be elitist: "I think it's critically important that we ... be sensitive to the fact that so many people in this state are losing public services."

8:58

Student: How can we change narrative, so people can realize we need to raise revenue?

Reich's response: "Rhetorical, we need to talk about service cuts rather than tax cuts ... people need to realize we are shooting ourselves in the feet."

"Since 1980 most Americans have seen no real increase in their income at all."

Reich said most benefits of growing economy go to top earners. In 2007 top 1 percent of took 23.5 percent of total income."

In California the gap is even wider. "When we talk about revenues, the lower class and middle class" cannot add to state revenues, additional revenue has to come from upper-middle class and the wealthy.

Reich: "(There is) no better way to communicate with legislators (than) to energize mobilize their constituents ... you get their attention very, very fast ... it's not demonstration, it will not have nearly the impact as getting the constituents."

Glazner: Nancy Skinner, local legislator, needs to have "issues coming up in this room (be on her Web site)."

Check out The Daily Clog's live-blog here.

Tags: WALKOUT


Contact Javier Panzar at [email protected]



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