Throughout the country on October 7th, people will be demonstrating to support public education. This date also marks one of the last days people can register to vote for the November election, and so many groups are calling for joint activities to support officials who will defend public education.
This defense of public education comes at a time when privatization is gaining power in multiple ways. Not only are private citizens being asked to pay for increasing tuition costs at our public universities, but parts of the University of California are considering breaking all ties with the state. For instance, the Anderson School of Management at UCLA has announced that it would like to stop all state support in order to raise tuition and have more private control. In response to this privatization, we should ask if the business school will pay for the buildings it uses, which were built by the state. Moreover, will Anderson pay a tax to support the central administration and shared staff and maintenance? Also, should Anderson pay a high franchise tax in order to use the UCLA name?
As I have pointed out before, once a part of the university is considered to be self-sustaining, it usually means that it refuses to share its profits and contribute to the common good. For instance, most of the self-sustaining units were exempt from the furloughs and the departmental budget cuts. According to the logic of the Office of the President, the money-making sectors should keep their profits, but the state-supported areas have to suffer deep cuts.
The move to defend public higher education against privatization means that not only should we push for more state and federal funding, but we also have to fight against the myth of self-sustaining units. While some people think the university should be run more like a business, we have to realize that many large corporations only succeed because they live off of corporate welfare. Not only do companies receive huge tax breaks and subsidies, but they also profit from outsourcing their research and development to public universities. Just as the Anderson School wants to go private as it uses public facilities, free market businesses call for tax cuts, while they lobby for more governmental bailouts and handouts.
Let’s all rally together on October 7th to say no to privatization and yes to public education.