STATE OF EMERGENCY: ACTION FOR EDUCATIONAL JUSTICE
University of California, San Diego
March 1, 2012
It is with immediate concern that the administration of the University of California, San Diego address issues of upholding the promises of the California Master Plan of Education for an accessible, public, and free University of California. Though the Master Plan does not qualify the meaning of accessibility and equity or address the structural racism of the education system, our expectation is that the University of California be accessible and free regardless of race, socio-economic status, immigration status, or other potential barriers to access.
We, the Public Education Coalition (Faculty, Graduates, Undergraduates, Staff, United Auto Workers, AFSCME Workers, and other workers’ organizations), Reclaim UCSD, the Student Affirmative Action Committee (The Asian Pacific-Islander Student Alliance, Black Student Union, Kaibigang Pilipino, Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ Aztlan, Muslim Student Association, Native American Student Alliance, Queer People of Color, Students with Disabilities Coalition), and numerous allies at the University of California, San Diego have the following concerns, expectations, and demands:
We, the Students, Faculty, Staff and Workers of the University of California, San Diego, demand that the library formerly known as “CLICS” be reopened, owned and run by and for students and librarians (not under the Executive Vice-Chancellor of Academic Affairs), and refunded by the University through decreases in administrator salaries and student fees and increases in taxes on the wealthy and corporations. In order to pursue these ends, we are committed to uniting with people and movements in all sectors of society, all around the world, from Chile to Puerto Rico, from Greece to Spain, from Egypt to Iran, from Peru to Ireland to the Phillipines, from Occupy Wall Street to Occupied Palestine, from UC Riverside to UC Davis to UC Berkeley, who share our commitment to the empowerment of workers, students, and the unemployed to create an equitable and compassionate society. Our peoples will rise to decolonize UCSD, which is on occupied Kumeyaay land, to decriminalize the border and to smash imperialism and capitalism in our country and throughout the world. Through collective struggle we will reverse the privatization of our University and reclaim public education as a human right for all people.
II. UCSD INSTITUTIONAL DEMANDS
DEMAND 1: CLICS BE REOPENED IMMEDIATELY
Before CLICS permanently closed in the Fall of 2011, it was one of the few libraries that provided enough study space for all students. During Finals Week, CLICS was the only space that would provide students with the resources to study for their Finals on a 24/7 basis and was a close library for Revelle students to study at. Currently, the University has opened a portion of Giesel Library to be used by students during Finals Week but it does not provide the same resources as CLICS once did. As a response to budget cuts from the state and the mismanagement of funds by the Regents of the University of California, the UCSD Administration, specifically the Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, decided to close CLICS Library and three other libraries to save the University money. By doing so, the University has prevented students the ability to excel in their academics and has institutionally neglected the needs of students.
Throughout finals week last quarter, students collected 1,261 signatures for a petition to reopen CLICS as a student-run university funded study space. This petition along with an abbreviated set of immediate demands was personally delivered to a number of Vice Chancellors on Friday, December 9th. There were three immediate demands: keys to CLICS be delivered to an appointed liaison, chairs and desks be returned to CLICS, and a moratorium be placed on construction plans. With the exception of returning desks and chairs, the petition and the demands were ignored, although CLICS has been temporarily reopened for winter quarter, a decision made unilaterally by the administration.
The university, without the approval or transparent consultation of the student body, plans to renovate the space formerly known as CLICS Library and convert it into a large lecture hall with a minimal peripheral portion dedicated to study spaces. In this time of increasing class sizes and a decreasing workforce of instructors, a lecture hall will only contribute to an already impersonal, ineffective, and unsustainable educational model. Furthermore, these renovations will cost $6.7 million. Running CLICS, however, cost only $450,000 annually. Millions of dollars are being wasted on this renovation which could be going to instruction and keeping libraries open, services essential to quality education.
Further, we understand that space has been promised to the Theatre and Dance Department for rehearsal/design studios and needed office space. Given this, WE DEMAND that the Theatre and Dance Department’s needs be met as promised.
This University needs to prioritize education. We will no longer allow our Administration to use our student fees and public dollars and waste them on things that are not relevant to the access, retention and success of students. Thus, WE DEMAND that the University allocate sufficient funds to keep CLICS Library open and to provide students the resources they need to achieve in their academics.
DEMAND 2: PERMANENT FUNDING FOR THE CRITICAL GENDER STUDIES PROGRAM AND EXPANSION OF SUPPORT FOR CURRENTLY UNDERFUNDED
DEPARTMENTS, INCLUDING THOUGH BY NO MEANS LIMITED TO, ETHNIC STUDIES, LITERATURE, VISUAL ARTS, AND HISTORY.
In the profit-driven university, disciplines are heirarchized to meet the needs of for-profit-corporations who demand certain types of lucrative intellectual labor but not others. For example, while graduate students in Chemistry or Engineering might be getting $25,000 to $30,000 a year to cover their living expenses, graduate students in Sociology are getting as low as $14,000 a year to cover the same living expenses. Under this model, the living conditions (food and housing) of certain students are prioritized over those of others, which means there is a disparity in quality of life. This is unacceptable. Obviously, allocating funding across disciplines is a complex and messy process. The only problem is is that it is not transparent to students how this process works. WE DEMAND a student and faculty-led review of funding allocations across disciplines in order to ensure that each department gets funding according to their needs. WE DEMAND that underfunded departments such as Critical Gender Studies, Literature, Visual Arts, and Ethnic Studies be prioritized. While we understand funding will not be the same for every department as every department has different needs, we do DEMAND that the amount of support for covering the living expenses of graduate students across disciplines be standardized by this student and faculty-led review so that there is no disparity in the living conditions of graduate students across disciplines.
DEMAND 3: WE DEMAND OASIS CONTINUOUSLY RECEIVE MANDATED, PERMANENT, BUDGET-CRISIS FREE FUNDING FROM THE UNIVERSITY SINCE OASIS IS A FORCE ON CAMPUS AT THE FOREFRONT OF RETAINING STUDENTS.
OASIS, The Office of Academic Support and Instructional Services, offers transition programs, tutoring, and other services to underrepresented students on campus. Specifically, the STEP and Summer Bridge transition programs provide some of the first opportunities for students from underrepresented and under-served backgrounds to foster those one on one connections that are critical for their retention at UCSD. Considering that many students face culture shock and other challenges during their transition to college, it is essential to recognize the academic and social support these programs provide for these students. While OASIS has been able to avoid direct cuts to its Summer Bridge program for the past two years, the center overall has been reduced which limits the its ability to serve non-Summer Bridge students during the academic year. Through Summer Bridge, now in its 35th year, OASIS has served thousands of students and the center serves about 2,500 UCSD students during the academic year. Surveys taken by students and alumni show unequivocal support to the effectiveness of the program’s services.
Unfortunately, a recent notice from Business Affairs (which controls the dorm space that houses the Summer Bridge Program) has notified OASIS that their Summer Bridge “discount” will be revoked starting in 2014. That means OASIS will have to pay more for housing Summer Bridge students and subsequently serve fewer students. They are already under pressure to start charging students for Summer Bridge which would mean that lower-income students would likely be unable to participate. Currently, UCSD’s program is the only UC Summer Bridge that does not charge students, which helps the university enroll underrepresented students who are also admitted to UCLA and/or UCB. Charging enrolled, underrepresented, under-served students to ensure their success and retention is a disrespectful contradiction. It is time that the UCSD administration deliver on its supposed institutional priority of diversity, equity, and inclusion. WE DEMAND that programs for the retention of these students remain free of charge.
DEMAND 4: FULL FUNDING AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE DEMANDS OF THE BLACK STUDENT UNION SIGNED IN MARCH 2010
WE DEMAND that the administration, Chancellor and all Vice Chancellor offices recognize their commitment to the BSU Demands signed on March 4th, 2010. WE DEMAND full funding and resolution of BSU Demands before March 4th 2013. WE DEMAND a student-led and accountable campus climate council with policy making abilities. WE DEMAND that completion of the BSU Demands must be approved by the student body through the Black Student Union.
DEMAND 5: FUNDING FOR STUDENT RESOURCES
The University must provide its students with the resources to structure, manage, and maintain fully functioning educational programming to succeed in the University of California’s mission to increase the yield of historically underrepresented/under-served minority students (HURMS) on the UCSD campus. WE DEMAND that the Student Co-Ops stay student run and that they are rent free. WE DEMAND that the University begin to do a transparent audit on the University College System to see if it is sustainable to have a Six College System during this economic crisis.
DEMAND 6: WORKERS’ WAGES, BENEFITS, AND PENSIONS
We DEMAND that the University stop laying off workers as they continue to give high University executives bonuses and raises at the same time they increase fees for students every year. We DEMAND an immediate halt to the outsourcing of UC jobs. We further DEMAND that the UC protect and increase their contributions to the pension to maintain the health of the UCRP (retirement plan) in order for workers to be able to retire with dignity. Furthermore we DEMAND that workers not pay more into their pensions without substantial wage increases to offset the cost of living. We also DEMAND that the UC not shift the cost of retiree health care onto workers who already have retired. We DEMAND that the UC stop its plans to create a two tier system for pension and health care benefits. Furthermore, the University administration has failed to deliver on the wage increases AFSCME workers were promised back in 2008. We DEMAND a legal guarantee from the UC system that the wage increases that were promised in 2008 be enacted in order to provide liveable wages for workers. We also DEMAND that workers be provided with safe work environments and that they have the right to decide what cleaning supplies and materials they will utilize so that incidents such as the recent unsafe use of steam-machines are avoided. Finally, we DEMAND that workers’ rights be made a priority at this institution and that the administration ensures that workers are not overworked, underpaid and under-served.
III. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SYSTEM-WIDE DEMANDS
The UC Regents still have not rejected a proposed plan of $2.5 billion in cuts and tuition hikes of up to 81% over the next four years. Brothers and sisters, the privatization of public education is not only an attack on students but it is also an attack on public employees, through the privatization of the pension fund, the rising cost of benefits for workers, and the restructuring of our universities following the corporate model, that increases the number of high paid administration and management positions while cuts are made to staffing and faculty positions. In order to stop and reverse this process of privatization, we make the following demands from the UC Regents, CSU trustees and the State of California:
1. A COMPLETE REVERSAL OF THE FEE INCREASES, LAYOFFS, AND CUTS to essential services such as libraries, instruction, student housing and dining, and campus facilities. This includes the expansion of support for currently underfunded departments such as, though not limited to, literature, history, visual arts, ethnic studies, and critical gender studies.
2. GUARANTEED RETIREMENT SECURITY AND EQUAL BENEFITS FOR ALL WORKERS, including pensions, healthcare, and childcare, and the re-hiring of workers fired as a result of the budget cuts, specifically workers who are marginalized as a result of immigration status, sexual or gender identity, or other markers of difference. We also demand a revision of safety regulations in the workplace for all university staff.
3. A FULL INVESTIGATION INTO THE REGENTS’ CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, especially their investments in banks, hedge funds, and for-profit schools, financial support of political officials, and previously held positions as executives of banks and private corporations.
4. AN END TO UC ADMINISTRATIVE AND POLICE SURVEILLANCE, VIOLENCE, AND INTERVENTION in political and academic activities, the immediate resignation of UC President Mark Yudof, UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau, and UC Riverside Chancellor Timothy White for their role in UCPD police brutality, and the disbanding of the UCPD and the formation of a community self-policing model of protection for students and workers not based on institutionalized violence and control.
5. A REVISION OF CURRENT ADMISSIONS POLICIES TO LIFT BARRIERS FACED BY UNDERREPRESENTED STUDENTS OF COLOR, LGBT/QUEER STUDENTS, AND WORKING CLASS STUDENTS, including public and active support for the full implementation of affirmative action throughout public education and the state, beginning with student leadership in implementing Senate Bill 185, as well as increased access and retention for these students and continued support for spaces on campus that support and/or employ these students.
6. ENCOURAGEMENT AND FACILITATION OF THE CREATION OF MORE STUDENT-RUN, SELF-ORGANIZED SPACES ON CAMPUS, as well as active support for such spaces that already exist, including the student cooperatives, in the form of rent elimination and forgiveness as well as work-study opportunities.
7. EQUAL AND FULL ACCESS TO THE UNIVERSITY FOR UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS AND WORKERS, including the immediate implementation of the California DREAM act, and the democratic control of the university by students, faculty, and staff.
8. THE RAISING OF INCOME TAXES ON CALIFORNIA’S WEALTHIEST, a financial transaction tax on Wall Street, and Prop 13 tax reform in order to save and expand public education.
IV. NATIONWIDE DEMANDS
1. END STUDENT DEBT!
We must strip higher education of its dependence on debt bondage. The student loan industry has profited from borrower vulnerability through predatory lending practices such as compounding interest rates, high collection fees, and few consumer protections. Inflating tuition costs have been financed through student debt that will soon exceed 1 trillion dollars. The morality of perpetuating this unjust system by continuing to pay these predatory loans is questionable. In times of fuller employment, the student loan debt system has yielded no end of private suffering and humiliation for at least two generations of debtors. In a time of chronic underemployment–and the worst may be yet to come–the burden is beyond tolerance. Immediate forgiveness in the spirit of a jubilee, where the injustice of an unpayable debt is redeemed through a single, corrective act, is the only just response to this crisis.
2. FREE PUBLIC EDUCATION FOR ALL!
The single, largest step we could take to alleviate future student loan debt would be to guarantee tuition-free education for students enrolled at public colleges and universities. In the case of systems in California and New York that were formerly free, this would be a restoration of the status quo. According to a recent estimate, drawn from Department of Education data, the cost of covering tuition at all the nation’s two- and four-year colleges and universities would be about $70 billion. Put in the perspective of the federal budget, a recent audit found that the Pentagon “wastes” this sum in unaccountable spending every year. Ending the Bush tax cuts ($80 billion annually) would easily cover this cost.
3. EDUCATION NOT DEPORTATION!
The international division of labor creates the unequal economic conditions which drive many to immigrate in search of the means of survival. While the US economy depends on the cheap menial labor provided by these immigrants, the US state stigmatizes these immigrants as alien, and deports them back to their home countries where they are regarded as surplus labor by multinational corporations who degrade their environments and pay an insufficient living wage to workers while they profit from generous tarriff exemptions and the import of their products in Western countries. It is in this context that undocumented youth in the U.S. are deported. WE DEMAND an end to deportation and that these youth instead be granted access to education and the tools of knowledge previously denied them.