We’ll be back from our brief hiatus as soon as the semester begins, but in the meantime we wanted to provide a quick roundup of relevant developments in the privatization of the public university and — it should go without saying — resistance to it. Most of these items will be familiar to many of our readers, but we’re including them in case you missed them over the break.
- The University of Puerto Rico strike against a new $800 fee kicked off once again at the end of last semester, complete with gratuitous police violence simulcast around the world. Unfortunately it was poorly timed, and the break eroded much of the strikers’ support. The UPR strikers are calling for support and letters of solidarity as soon as possible. The strike kicks off again today, 1/1/11.
- The Chronicle broke a story just a few days before New Years, revealing that 36 of the UC’s highest paid executives are threatening to sue the university over limits to their exorbitant pension packages. As things stand, those UC employees making in excess of $245,000 per year cannot earn pension returns beyond those who make that sum. In other words, these 36 fat cats are whining that $183,750 annual pensions are not enough to support their families, demanding pensions that would in many cases exceed $300,000. You can find the original letter containing the thinly veiled threat to sue the UC here. Note that many of these 36 executives championed slashing underpaid campus workers’ pensions from $12,000 to $7,000 annually. These are workers making roughly $26,000 per year. And they want us to share the pain?
- Unsurprisingly for a politician who ran on a platform of austerity, Jerry Brown announced $1.4 billion in cuts to public universities yesterday when he released his proposed budget. This means $500 million each from the UC and CSU systems, and an additional $400 million from community colleges. According to the Chronicle, “Hundreds of thousands of students are likely to be turned away from California State University and the community colleges next year, while the University of California won’t rule out raising tuition – again.” This is also a milestone among a recent spate of state cuts to education; for the first time in the history of California public ed, the state’s contribution will be less than money raised from student tuition ($2.6 billion from the state v. $2.8 billion from students). This so blatantly represents the privatization of the public university that even Mark Yudof was forced to remark, “This is a sad day for California.” Indeed. Too bad he’s on the wrong side of this struggle.
As the spring semester commences at Berkeley, we have more than enough on our plates to begin to mobilize immediately. Of course March 2 is the next coordinated “day of action,” and we will be building along with many others for an inter-campus and inter-system walkout, and a couple weeks later the Regents will be addressing the pension demands of the 36 execs. But we have no need to wait for March to arrive. Let’s fight now! Over the next couple of weeks, we will be following the ongoing struggle within UAW 2865 and the expansion of AWaDU into a statewide all-UC caucus; the impending hearings of both the UCI-19 and Peter Howell; egregious missteps by UCPD; solidarity organizing with the Georgia prison strikers; continued organizing against the gang injunctions in Oakland; and much, much more. As the semester begins, remember: the university belongs to those who use it! Don’t you dare forget it.
Hands off workers’ pensions! Cut from the administrative-managerial class!
Debt-financed education is not “public”!