Sunday, November 29, 2009

Why the Regents and Yudof Want Us to Blame the State, and Why We Must Resist

There are two main narratives battling to define the current crisis at the University of California. President Yudof and the Regents want everyone to blame all of the UC’s problems on the state. According to this narrative, the simple issue is that the state has defunded higher education, and due to a $1.2 billion cut to the UC, all the campuses can do is raise fees, cut courses, layoff workers, increase class size, furlough faculty, and demand that the state increases its funding by $913 million.

The counter narrative, articulated mostly by the unions and the students, is that the UC just had a record year of revenue, and the system does not have to raise fees or cut services. Instead, the counter discourse argues that the profit-making units should share their profits, and money earmarked for instruction should actually be used for educational purposes. While we do also insist that full state funding should be restored, we recognize that most of the state reductions were made up by federal recovery money ($716 million) and fee increases and cost saving measures that have already been undertaken.

Many faculty members have sided with the administration because it is much easier to blame the state for all of the UC’s problems. By blaming the state and the anti-tax Republicans, we have a clear enemy and an easy narrative: we are all good, and they are all bad. Moreover, by placing the onus of responsibility on the state, we do not have to look at our own internal problems. As I have argued, Yudof wants us to keep our eyes on the state, so we do not look at how the Regents have mishandled the UC’s investments and pension plan.

If the faculty continue to buy Yudof’s narrative, there will be no way of fighting the continual increase in administrative costs and the further privatization of the university. Yudof’s latest gambit is to ask the state, which he knows is facing a $21 billion deficit, to increase the UC’s funding by $913 million. Everyone knows that the state cannot provide this money, and so when the state does not meet Yudof’s request, he will feel justified to make another round of fee increases and budget cuts.

Without budget transparency and shared governance, the people at the top of the UC system can continue to manipulate statistics and scare faculty into accepting their narrative. In this version of the shock doctrine, a fake crisis motivates people to give power to a centralized authority and to privatize a public good, while wages are decreased and profits are kept by a small group of power elites. It is time for the UC faculty to stand up and resist Yudof’s latest power play.

21 comments:

  1. Please keep writing. I'm a student at UC Berkeley. We need better leadership to turn our UC's around. People like Yudof must be fired. I'm just a regular student who was never really informed on this topic but it angers me to see what greedy people like Yudof will do. I hope he is fired soon. Please let us know how regular students can take more action. I don't think protesting/striking to NOT attend classes had any effect. Actually, I know it didn't b/c it only hurt students. What are the best ways to REALLY have an impact? Please let us know. I'm adding you to my RSS Feed.

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  2. I suggest that students join with faculty, workers, and unionists to come up with a set of local demands and do direct actions to get the campus leaders to address our demands. I think the protests have already forged a new sense of solidarity and possibilities. Nothing has been decided, and the future is open. The problem is not just Yudof, it is a battle over priorities. Please stay involved.

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  3. I, and I'm sure many of my peers, often blame the state for our lack of funding and our increase in tuition. The regents have done a good job in clouding our views of who the enemy really is in this fight, but this post has really opened my eyes on the situation.

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  4. Like most students I agree that money raised from undergraduate fees should be used for instruction and not research. The state has been used as a scapegoat for too long and student body needs to know the truth about the UC budget. For example, during the Regents meetings are protesters were shouting that students should not have to pay for California’s deficit. However, if the issue was California’s deficit I believe as residents we cannot just blame the government and refuse to take action ourselves. Also, what you mean by shared governance?

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  5. How is Yudof able to get away with this power play if it is so evident that he is doing wrong? What stops the people from realizing Yudof is not fit for his position and replacing him?

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  6. I find it ironic that we are being taught to critically analyze information given to us in school, while our instructors merely believe whatever their president tells them about the budget of the UC system. Yudof seems to be very good at manipulating people, but he really needs to get his priorities straight and focus on education.

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  7. Of course there is not just one person or one sector that can hold full responsibility for the issue at hand. It is a large scale problem with many contributors. It is not fair to simply blame Yudof for the increase in student fees, but he certainly holds the power for an easier fix to the problem than the state does in this current economy. He needs to stop occupying his time with the administrators and start focusing on the students. After all, that is what a university should cater to. At least for now, Yudof has the authority to make a change, so he needs to step back, take responsibility, and stop accusing the state of inadequate funding.

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  8. President Yudof and the UC Regents tried to manipulate UC students and faculty members in order to prevent them from looking at the internal problems? These dishonest President and Regents do not deserve their such honorable and responsible positions.
    Seeing that the UC authorities do not want to take any blame for UC's problems, I am afraid that even if more students and faculty members gather for a greater protest, the ignorant authorities will remain indifferent and will do nothing to fix the problems.

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  9. The bottom line is that students and the public are ignorant. They have no clue how the money is distributed or what UC actually plans to do as they can easily make any promises right now and make any excuse for it later. If in fact corruption is eminent, using this fact, they might just be trying to see how far they can go.

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  10. I never realized that because of Yudof and his reagents, the speculating rumors about our education was because of the state was false until now. Yudof and his faculty has definitely mishandled the schools' budgets. We must keep resisting instead of using the state as a scapegoat for these problems.

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  11. Yudof is the president so doesn’t he have say where the money goes? He should stop blaming other people and try to find a way to fix it.

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  12. It shouldn't be only the faculty fighting! The students must stand up and resist as well! But we need to attack ignorance and apathy first...

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