Monday, January 11, 2010

The Next Big Social Movement?: UC in The New Yorker

The New Yorker Magazine recently had an extensive article on the UC system, and the general frame was that President Yudof is deeply unpopular, the university is broke, and people are rebelling. While the idea that an institution with a record level of revenue has no money is ridiculous, the article did a good job at highlighting many of our recent struggles. For example, a very interesting quote came from Alberto Torrico, the majority leader in the state assembly, who was asked about his new plan to fund the UC system: ”If I gave them a blank check, they'd use it for administrative costs instead of education.” Torrico, who is one of the only legislators in Sacramento who is working on securing funding for the UC system, is right to stress that if the state gives the UC more money, they may just use it to hire more administrators.

Torrico’s bill, AB 656, which would put a 12.5% tax on oil extraction in California and send $1.3 billion to higher education each year, has received no official support from Yudof or the Regents. In fact, when Yudof was asked about this bill, he said that he was unhappy that only 25% of the funds would go to the UC system. In response to Yudof’s discontent, Torrico told The New Yorker reporter that he would say the following to the UC president, “"Do you want twenty-five percent of a billion-plus, or one hundred percent of nothing?" 'Cause I can give you that very easily.” Torrico is displaying here the sentiment of many Democratic legislators who are tired of being attacked by Yudof for never giving the UC system enough money.

Another thread of the article is that there is a new movement arising from the University of California fiscal crisis, and it is unclear, which direction the movement will lead. On the one hand, a new spirit of student and faculty activism is bringing hope to many people inside and outside of the UC system, but, the article stresses that it is unclear what can be accomplished and how long the students, unions, and faculty can work together.

In my travels to New York and Philadelphia over the winter break, I kept hearing about the revolution in California. It seems that people are looking at us to start a new social movement, even if no one can define the target or the goals of the movement. I was surprised to hear on one radio show in New York, the argument that the only progressive social movement in the country challenging the current economic system is the one at the University of California. As strange as it may seem, we have become a small ray of hope for people fighting the privatization of the public sphere and the casualization of the labor force. Let’s hope that we can live up to the expectations of those around the country. Everything starts in California—not only the bad but sometimes the good.

40 comments:

  1. Hi Bob Samuels, our group, Bike for a Future, is organizing a bike ride from Davis to the capitol on Wednesday. We are a group that is mostly made up of UC Davis students who have been active in the rallies / protests and what have you against the fee hikes and budget cuts.

    We are going to the capitol not because the administration wants us to, but because we believe that the politicians in Sacramento should be doing more to establish oversight over the corruption that is plaguing UC administration, and to also let the legislators know that we are still angry and we will not be silenced.

    https://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0B7QypcWSbOX_MmYzYWY4MTUtMDY1MS00OTk3LWI5ODUtNTUyZWRhNzliY2Ex&hl=en

    Here is a link to a press release we've created and sent out to media outlets in the area.

    Thanks for reading.

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  2. California has always been one of the more progressive states, with it's further development and greater population. I agree that a movement started within the UC system will likely attract attention, and even responses, from the rest of the nation.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. I find it interesting that the problems of California's university systems are so popular in other states. I always assumed that the UC's funding was California's business alone. Hopefully, we'll see good results from this movement in California and potentially the rest of the nation.

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  5. California, notorious as a high tax state, in several or more areas, has been struggling with funding issues when it comes to education. It would make sense for a progressive social movement to begin with no other state than California.

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  6. With its economic woes so apparent and being the progressive state that it is, I don't find it all that surprising that a social movement, and the only one for that matter, has the potential to begin in California. I'm wondering now if the rest of the country is set for something of that magnitude.
    Also, I see that Alberto Torrico has some interesting things to say about the UC system and President Yudof. I think I'll just say my dislike for Yudof was not allayed at all by this post.

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  7. Torrico brings up a good point that if the UC's get more money they will use it for administrative costs rather than bettering the classrooms. It is obvious that the government is reluctant to give the UC's more money because the money that has already been given to the UC's has been used in irresponsible ways. California has enough economic issues that a progressive social movement could begin and thrive in California.

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  8. I do not understand why the UC system feels the need to hire more administration rather than use the money to improve the undergraduate quality of education. Also, this article brings to light the fact that the rest of the country is also focusing on the events happening in California, in particular the University of California system.

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  9. Like Steven Chan, I'm surprised that this is such a national issue. I figured the only people who cared are the students and parents of the students who attend a UC. It's interesting to compare this movement to the continuing fight against privatization in the public sphere. The way this situation is resolved in Sacramento might have an impact on other state institutions.
    How does Yudof expect to get more and more money with such an obvious problem of fund appropriation? But then again, if he doesn't get more money, he has an excuse to justify rising tuition.

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  10. President Yudof needs to accept any bill that will provide money for higher education. It does not matter how much money. Anything will help. Yudof has to realize what is more important giving the money to the administration or education?

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  11. How can a social movement start if there are no clear goals and no defined target? What will unite the people in the movement?

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  12. Dissatisfaction is the best glue for any cohesive movement. Regardless of the fact that there may not be one single, defined goal at this moment aligning all of these different groups (students, citizens, faculty) together with each other can lead to nothing but good things. The few at the top can exploit those at the bottom most easily when they are fragmented; in this vein, unity of the foundational bodies of the UC system may be requisite to a unified goal ever forming.

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  13. Sadly, the UC system is largely broken. It needs to be rebuilt from the ground up to avoid the problems it faces today, such as how the system spends so much on administrators. How the rate of new administrators employed by the UC system outpaces the money flowing into the UC system is beyond me. Reforming the system is a daunting task, but I feel that if somehow the entire public is informed, changes can be made. When changes would occur however, is another question altogether.

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  14. I was surprised that so many people are interested in our problems and are inspired by our actions. Since this movement is getting so much attention in other states, we need to be aware of this public image and act accordingly. However, in order for thsi movement to be successful, I believe that we need to define some clear goals instead of just making general statements such as "No more fee increases!".

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  15. It is refreshing to hear that people all over the country are talking about the movement in the UC system. It shows that it is a nationwide concern, and that is a big step when trying to make these important changes. Increasing popularity and coverage on the subject allows for more people to form opinions and fight for this issue. We need this nationwide recognition so that more pressure can be put on the California government to make changes.

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  16. I'm also surprised our budget crisis has reached other states because, honestly, I have no idea what other states' education budget or costs are like. I guess that just goes to show how screwed up our UC system is. The part in this article where Torrico says if he gave the UC system a blank check, they'd use it for administrative purposes, upset me the most. What happened to the importance of education? Aren't us stutents the foundation of the future? I hope this planned movement gets started soon, because if not, our education is just going to go down as our costs go up.

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  17. It is ridiculous how much the UCs spend on administrators and how they continue to ask for more and more money without having a proper plan for it. The government should give the UCs money and monitor it to see exactly where its going and who is recieving it.

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    Replies
    1. Trust to developing UC and monitoring for control, great argument.

      - jasa backlink -

      Delete
  18. Im curious as to what the other 75% of Torrico's bill's revenue is going towards.
    Yudof should be greatful that he's atleast getting some support from Tarrico, but instead hes complaining about how little the UCs would get. He's "being a weenie". But even if UCs got the extra $1.3 Billion, they would spend it more on research than education.

    Also if the bill is/was passed, all of California would end up paying because a tax on oil extraction would increase gas prices.

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  19. Because California is such a progressive state with high taxes, one would assume that it would have no trouble raising support and funds for education. Therefore, I and apparently the rest of the nation find the budget problems interesting. According to the essay, even if the UC receives more funding, it will most likely spend it on administration rather than education. Maybe the state and citizens would find it more worthwhile to increase taxes in order to increase UC funds if they were actually spent on the students.

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  20. Inspiring. I guess people are hearing about the protests against the UC system. For a while I thought we were never going to get any attention. To hear that the news spread to as far as New York is motivating. It seems that soon the entire nation will know about this if they don’t already. I always that that this problem was just kept local in California. At least we have Torrico standing up for us. One is better than none. Torrico is my new hero.

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  21. Yudof's actions are very reminiscent to those of a child during a visit to the candy store. It is evident the Yudof is using the current crisis to his advantage, hoping that by whining and screaming he will get what he wants. Without a doubt, his actions will achieve nothing but augment his infamy.

    On a lighter note, I am not surprised to hear that California is considered a pioneer of civil movement. This is not to discredit the civil work of other states/countries that has undoubtedly proved successful, rather it is important to note that because California is currently in the spotlight, we are expected to begin a revolution to better our system; we should not rely on non-Californians to fix our education system!

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  22. Torrico’s point really makes us thing how the money the UC has is spend. We don’t really know how the school is spending so much money in administration rather than the undergraduate program. As an undergraduate I feel we should be able to receive a high quality for our education because after all we are paying for it.

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  23. I'm glad that Alberto Torrico knows what is happening in the UC system. It is so selfish of Yudof to ask for large sums of money and not fund for education and instead uses it for other pointless things. Our state is very inspiring by the way other states think that we are becoming a social movement.

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  24. I do not think Yudof should receive any money. He and the regents should have to withdraw some of their investments and use some of that money, before those investments no longer have any value. Also, I don’t feel that there is any universal, clearly defined goal for this social movement. Everyone seems to have his or her own agenda. Perhaps it will evolve over time. Although it is radical, I feel that the only way to end some of this corruption is to have each university be its own entity and no longer exist has a group of universities.

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  25. The quote from Alberto Torrico shows how the UC system is messed up. Those in charge have the money and the opportunity to better the education given here at UCLA, but choose to instead spend the money on themselves. If someone is working in the education system, their focus should be to try to provide us with the best available learning there is, not on money.

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  26. Yudof should be happy to receive any money from the state. Complaining that 25% is too little makes him sound foolish. While the entire nation is watching the UC system's problems,I do not think it is basis for a new social revolution. That seems to be a bit of a stretch.

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  27. I think we need to learn from other states as well. I know all of my friends, at least the ones who were alright students, that moved out of state in high school are going to college for free. I don’t really know the details but as I understand it they met some high but reasonable requirements in high school and the state now pays for their college tuition. I don’t know how other places are able to do this, but it would be nice to have an incentive to do well in high school and to not be in debt after college.

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  28. Wow I’m living in the middle of a revolution without even knowing about it. Perhaps the picture that out of state people has is a bit skewed and exaggerated.

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  29. State money should be evenly distributed to the people who contribute. Money should be deducted from those who make more and should be used towards projects that need funding to increase the quality of our education.

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  30. First of all, from what I read in this article, I am reassured by people like Alberto Torrico who seem to have their heads on straight. At the same time, I don't know if I'd like to see the UC system get more funds considering how they're handling their money right now. Would more funding really help, or should the investment situation be straightened out first?

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  31. I'm glad to hear that there are people like Torrico who are trying to help the UC system with the money issue. However, I was surprised by Yudof's response.I think he should focus on finding a way to help Torrico's bill get passed instead of demanding more from it.

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  32. I agree with the people in New York, the students and faculty of the UC system should start a revolution. The UC system is a public institution and the public should defend it from those who want to privatize it.

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  33. I think that Torrico highlighted one of the most important reasons why the UC system is struggling. People keep saying over and over again that we have no money. While that statement may be true, it is only because the people in charge of handling the money are only using it for themselves. Universities are about educating students and preparing them for the real world. So why is none of the money going toward that goal?

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