Perhaps the biggest story of 2009 for the UC system is the way a fake fiscal crisis has been used to consolidate the president's powers and impose austerity plans worthy of an IMF or World Bank takeover. Using the state reduction of $600 million (out of an operating budget of over $20 billion), the Office of the President has suspended most forms of shared governance and has a spent a great deal of money and time on circulating false and misleading budgetary information. This lack of transparency coupled with an authoritarian imposition of furloughs and fee increase has led to a new protest movement composed of students, faculty, workers, and unions.
President Yudof has already signaled that more of the same is coming in our future. By asking the state to come up with an additional $913 million in funding for the UC system, Yudof has guaranteed that the state will not deliver. Once the state fails to give the UC system the university’s requested amount, Yudof will feel justified to impose further draconian cuts to workers' salaries and vital educational services. Instead of looking at how the university can save money by reducing its ever-expanding administrative class, Yudof seems intent on making students pay more for less.
While students, faculty, and unions will be striking and protesting on March 4th to protect public education in the state of California, we will also be working on our local campuses to hold our schools accountable to their public mission. Thus, after students return back to the campuses and find that their increased fees have resulted in an expansion of class sizes and a reduction of class offerings, there will be a renewed spirit of protest.
We should also expect further discussions of how the police acting during the protests of 2009, and the use of tasers, pepper spray, and batons will be investigated and protested. The fact that the university can only run its operations by relying on violence and propaganda shows that the current administration is morally bankrupt and only represents the interests of the people at the top of the system. If the majority of students, faculty, and workers ban together and demand a more just and equitable university, we can defend high quality public higher education in the state of California.