Cuts Harm UC's Quality and Character

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When Mark Yudof celebrates Labor Day from his $132,000 a year tax-payer funded mansion, he should enjoy the calm. Student, faculty and labor unrest is brewing against the direction in which he's pushing the University of California.

Indeed, the economic crisis and Sacramento's political bickering have resulted in a substantial decrease in university funds, but when faced with budget cuts from the state which amount to less than 3 percent of the overall UC budget, Yudof took the opportunity to declare a "State of Emergency."

Instead of providing creative progressive solutions which strive to maintain the excellence of the university, UC leadership has only offered us tuition hikes and devastating cuts that threaten the stability of the university. The impact of these changes may well be permanent.

Students: As students, our fundamental rights to academic opportunity and accessibility are being erased. We are vulnerable to losing our world-class professors, as well as courses, majors and minors that are unique to Berkeley. Section reductions mean even less access to already overwhelmed GSIs. Adjunct classes and tutoring reductions coupled with library closures mean less guidance and more stressful studying conditions.

Cuts to student recruitment and retention mean dwindling diversity on our campus, which already ranks ten spots lower than Stanford in this area according to US News & World Report. Meanwhile, student fees have exploded, and this year we may even face a 10 percent mid-year fee increase.

To raise revenues, the university has turned to admitting more out-of-state and international students, denying spots for qualified Californians while at the same time failing to provide these same students with adequate financial aid and support services. This university restructuring is a war on students and fundamentally threatens the future of our campus, our rank as the nation's top public university and the opportunity for future California students to learn at the university we call home.

Staff: As staff, our work is essential to the teaching, research and other vital services provided on campus. Despite increased enrollment, our numbers have decreased. Already stretched thin at the job, we are facing cuts such as the layoff notices given to every single UCLA lecturer, which are disproportionate to any decrease in state funding.

Our unions have provided the university with well-researched alternatives to Mr. Yudof's proposed cuts. By using resources such as reserve funds, income sources such as medical center profits and reasonable cuts to executives earning six-figure salaries, the cuts Yudof suggests can be avoided in the short term. Instead, Yudof has taken actions to unilaterally downsize the university in violation of labor laws which require negotiations with unions. Acts such as these have lead one union, University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE), to call for a strike on Sept. 24.

Faculty: Despite the recent letter sent out by the UC system-wide Academic Senate claiming that faculty across the ten campuses support Yudof's actions, this is far from universally true. There is concern about the salary cuts, but many faculty are even more worried about the ways in which UC Office of the President (UCOP) has violated the principle of "Shared Governance," which is central to the operation of the university.

Usually, the UC faculty take on the responsibility for systems of teaching, mechanisms of promotion and financial recognition of research and advising and the hundred other tasks in which faculty routinely engage. When Yudof declared a "State of Emergency," he quashed shared governance, with the result that at Berkeley, the Budget Committee (the faculty body that handles, among other things, hiring, promotion and salaries for professors) was not even consulted on how to implement the state cuts on its own campus. Many faculty are outraged over the wholesale circumventing of their input.

Additionally, there has not yet been full disclosure concerning the budget. We are asked to accept UCOP analysis of the budget situation on blind faith, without being able to engage in a discussion of funding priorities. Many faculty are demanding greater transparency on budgetary issues.

The work of student, staff and faculty in the Free Speech Movement, the struggles for disability rights, ethnic studies, South-African divestment and the women's movement are deeply entrenched in the history of our campus. It is crucial for us to stand together in this struggle to hold the doors to this university open for future students and to preserve the values on which it was founded.

Many of us are working as we speak to organize this campus and there are already a number of opportunities for you to become involved: attend the town hall meeting on Sept. 10, protest the UC Regents on Sept. 16, support the strike on Sept. 24 and go to http://berkeleycuts.org to stay informed! We are the university, without us it has no reason to exist, without us it does not exist.

Tags: UPTE, AFSMCE 3299, MARK YUDOF


Ricardo Gomez is founder of Berkeley Students Against the Cuts. Viola Tang is an ASUC Senator. Tanya Smith is president of the University Professional and Technical Employees. Shannon Shareen is an Associate Theater, Dance and Performance Studies Professo



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