The Daily Californian Online

Why I Choose to Participate on Oct. 7

By Jamie Andreson
Contributing Writer
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Category: Opinion > Op-Eds

Valentina Fung/Illustration

The numerous actions on campus last year stigmatized people around the various issues facing public education. Despite stratified ideas, values, group affiliations or biases, public education is a thread which strings together people of all ages, backgrounds and futures.

From students to workers, to faculty, to the collective knowledge, economy and polity of humanity, we all depend on public education as the fabric of our society. This is why equal access to public education is essential for achieving the social equality and mobility promised by democracy.

New admission policies proposed by the UC Regents favor out of state students (charging them double tuition) and change testing requirements in ways that have shown to negatively impact the diversity of students on our campus.

Along with state-wide cuts at the K-12 education level, this pushes the public education system to benefit those who grew up with access to necessary resources (in or outside of California), instead of providing equal opportunity to all people despite economic, social or racial background.

After massive lay-offs and departmental cuts last year, the Regents recently decided to cut the pensions of the lowest-paid workers, while, at the same meeting, raising the highest paid workers' pensions thousands of dollars.

The shady UC investments in multi-billion-dollar companies known to violate human and environmental rights with uncertain returns, constant construction projects on campus and astronomical top administrative salaries directly contradict the sorts of values and attitudes taught by professors at Cal, who provide methods to critically analyze our society and construct responsible solutions.

Applying our socially responsible insights, it's quite clear that the Regent system, the budget allocation process and new admissions policies are flawed and in need of critique and reform. On a personal level, our friends are forced to drop out because of fee increases, workers cannot support their families and future children of California are barred from entry into the University of California system.

As a student population, we are not fundamentally divided on these issues, but perhaps differentially informed or overwhelmed by the heaps of problems and obligations constantly thrown at us week by week, semester by semester.

Rather than ignoring the livelihood of our Californian population, walking out of class and standing in solidarity with workers, GSIs, students, faculty and the greater community on Oct. 7 demonstrates our integrity, passion and rational commitment to create a just society. Many students may not know that the global student population, the national media, state and federal governments are watching our actions, and that the struggle to create a better future is attainable through unity.

I encourage every student or affiliate of this campus to consider what they care or love about UC Berkeley, and to stand in solidarity on Oct. 7 to improve its faults and work towards a sustainable legacy of excellence.

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