Today was “March Forth,” the Day of Action against the education crisis in the U.S. It began as an effort in California inspired by the state’s education cuts, furloughs, and fee hikes. However, it spread across the nation, with actions taken in 42 states. I should begin this post by clearly stating that I support the protests and the actions taken today.
However, I did not participate in the protests… at least not with a physical presence. One of my professors canceled his class today, while the class for which I the Teaching Assistant met off campus. My discussion section met right near the bay, outside on a thankfully rain-free and sunny morning. Having section with the sun shining down on us and the bay behind us provided a nice escape from the campus protests. The lecturer held our lecture in a downtown community center and because it was just so beautiful, I decided to ride my bike. Other than respecting the protest (I’m purposefully choosing not to use the word strike, despite the organizers’ titling it as such), we also held these sessions off campustitling due to the UCSC protests’ tendency to block the campus’ two entrances.
I again stress that I wholeheartedly agree with the protest’s grievances and goals. However, I am unsure that not attending classes demonstrates to the leaders that students care about their education. Maybe that’s the cynic in me. But I have to think that perhaps marching on a non-class day might have more aptly reflected their commitment to this very serious cause. Right or wrong, I hope that today’s efforts garner public support and eventually serious change.
This is a brief post, to draw attention to what is happening on UC campuses across the state today. Faculty and students, as well as several other groups of UC employees, are walking out today, the first day of classes. The reason is primarily to speak out against and draw attention to the way the UC Board of Regents is handling the recent budget cuts. It should be noted that part of this issue extends past the UC. The state continues to cut money from its education, hurting both its present and future. This follows a long history of the state turning its back on education: since the passing of Prop. 13, the state’s education fell from fourth in the nation to forty-fifth.
However, this walkout is focusing largely on the choices of the Board of Regents. The tuition hikes, furloughs, pay cuts, lay offs, and administrative excess are contributing to the downsizing and privatization of the public university system. If you have a moment, please read the reasons why faculty are walking out here. Or read the open letter to grad students, who are in full support of the faculty’s actions by clicking here.
For me, it is an interesting experience. What should be the first day as a TA, working with my advisor, and meeting my undergrads has been replaced with this walkout. While I must admit that it is frustrating to begin my grad school experience with this walkout and I am torn over the impact this has on students (providing one less instructional day), I stand in solidarity with the faculty. The priority of public education and the goals of the UC must remain important for both current and future students. The priority of education in this state has been lax for decades, this cannot continue. That state and the Board must realize the implications of their actions and decisions.