Why Doesn't Mark Yudof Seek More Student Input?

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I recently wrote to University of California President Mark Yudof to voice my displeasure with what look like, from a student's perspective, the supine efforts of university officials to fight against the cuts being forced on UC by California's fractured political system which empowers a moronic fringe in our legislature. Yudof's reply assured me that he was doing everything possible on behalf of the university and included a self-styled "action report" with a deceptively impressive list of efforts.

It seems odd, however, that when launching an advocacy effort on behalf of the university, Yudof's efforts would not extend to enlisting those with the most to gain and lose: the nearly quarter of a million students who call UC home. I have received virtually no communication, either as a UCI alumnus or as a Berkeley student. This, I believe, is because UC leadership is determined to take the first wave of cuts lying down, in the naive belief that this represents the worst. Yudof and the regents have opted to depoliticise their decisions and present them as technocratic "best practise" (implicitly encouraging apathy) rather than presenting this as a fight in deadly earnest over what public education in California is going to look like in the long term.

Either Yudof is advocating like an amateur (in which case he's not worth his $800,000 compensation), or he's playing his own game and working toward ends antithetical to both the purpose and ethos of the university system. Yudof has repeatedly asserted that the silver lining in all of this is the opportunity to "change how we do business." This comment is illuminating, both in that it signals resignation on the part of university leadership to the mutilation of public education and also because Yudof clearly has a long-term vision that he has not deigned to share with the university community as a whole.

In any case, it is clear that the president has become an albatross around the University of California's neck and that he should pack his bags and let someone step into the ring who is prepared to champion the public university with something resembling vigour, feeling and courage. For the time being, the UC community should pull together and make it clear that we are prepared to defend a remarkable institution, renowned for its innovation and industry, but perhaps most valuable for its role in promoting social justice, equality, and the idea that in the end, we are all in it together. If anything, the silver lining to be found in this crisis is the opportunity to live up to those ideals.

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