On Wednesday, March 14, after two weeks of successfully reclaiming the Chancellor’s Complex Conference Room, students vacated the complex and moved to CLICS Library which had begun its 24 hour service for finals week. Though administration still plans to move forward with renovation of CLICS, we will continue pressing for a halt on construction until more student input can be submitted and heard. The following response letter was submitted to Chancellor Fox and several Vice Chancellors after the move to CLICS.
March 14, 2012
To the Chancellor and Vice Chancellors of the University of California, San Diego:
Chancellor Fox’s response to the demands made by a coalition of students, faculty, and workers drawn from organizations including the Public Education Coalition, the Student Affirmative Action Committee, and the student-run Co-operatives, makes no substantive commitments to accountability, transparency, or shared-governance. Our intention behind the demonstration on March 1 was to start a radical democratic process among students, workers, and educators, reassess our collective priorities as an educational institution, and come up with a comprehensive plan of action that will increase the quality of our education given the current crisis.
We are completely aware of the budgetary issues facing the state of California and its consistent slashing of necessary social programs such as education. Instead of responding to our campus-specific demands, however, you have chosen to remind us of problems in the state-budget of which we are already aware and against which we have been mobilizing for years. You have chosen to scapegoat “the magnitude of the cutbacks” and “the state’s contribution to educating each UC student” in order to explain your own non-transparent management of the university’s slashed budget. Further, in solely blaming the state, you have chosen to omit the Regents’ conflicts of interest as millionaire hedge-fund managers and real-estate executives, not to mention their potential conflicts of interest from personal investments in for-profit schools and companies closely associated with the university.
The upper levels of the administration of the University of California are more entangled in this crisis than you care to admit. You have ignored that the Regents’ ability to raise our tuition has enabled them to more easily borrow money to finance construction projects. You have ignored that the Regents, in a time of cutbacks have used tuition revenue for pay raises to the salaries of high-paid administrators such as yourselves as opposed to instruction or essential classroom services. You have chosen to omit the role of the former President of the University of California, in moving to increase student fees and decrease state funding in accordance with the state sponsored Compact for Higher Education signed in 2004 before the recession.
Given these omissions, your patronizing invitation to “join the UC Regents…for a march on Sacramento” rings hollow and hypocritical. Such an invitation must be followed by your willingness to join students and workers in any collectively decided strategy of direct action, though we doubt you will. You can trust that we will be in Sacramento. Many of us just returned from an occupation of the Capitol last week. We acknowledge and explicitly mention the serious cutbacks in state funding and the state’s prioritization of big business and financial interests. That is why section III of our demands document addresses the State of California and the UC Regents. We are also aware of the national problems we face as section IV of the document shows. Section I of the document, however, entails demands specific to this campus, and the state funding cutbacks cannot be held solely responsible for the way your administration at UCSD manages this university’s budget.
As we have demonstrated in our six UCSD institutional demands, your administration is guilty of misaligned priorities. A petition, which is currently circulating, shows students are dissatisfied with current conditions and support these demands. Further, you write, “As we make these difficult decisions, we will continue to give strong consideration to input from all segments of the campus community.” This has not been happening. For example, administrative cuts have eliminated 16% of UCSD Libraries budget. These cuts were disproportionate to the size of the libraries budget relative to the campus budget, and precipitated the closure of four library facilities. AS Council and all six College Councils condemned the closure of CLICS, and on May 28th, 2011 initiated a campaign to ‘Save Our Libraries.’ However, after a non-transparent, non-public decision making process, it was announced on September 30th, 2011 that CLICS would be renovated into a lecture hall, study space, and studio space. The administration’s decisions resulted in the closure of public space, but failed to engage those affected by the closure in deciding how to best use that space. Then, while the reclamation of the Chancellor’s Complex Conference Room was underway, the administration proceeded with the job walk for CLICS Library in order to move forward with its renovation, even as students demanded that the library reopen. They also demonstrated a lack of attention to repeated calls from students including a petition signed by over 1300 students supporting the reopening of CLICS. We want to keep CLICS open. We do not want large lecture halls and the continual erosion of the quality of our education.
Given our continued pursuit of these campus demands, we have attached one additional demand here calling for the creation of an Islamic Studies minor to educate students of the diversity of Islam in light of recent anti-Muslim incidents.
Against our best instincts, we are giving you a second opportunity to meet our demands. If you choose to take advantage of this opportunity, you must provide our liaison with a detailed response to every single demand by Wednesday March 21 that includes the contact information—name, phone number, and email—of an administrator that will be answerable and responsible for the implementation of each demand. We also call for a well-publicized town-hall meeting where administrators will be answerable to the issues raised in the demands in order to garner feedback from a large sector of the campus community as to how to move forward on these issues. We will give you the opportunity to negotiate a date within spring quarter for this town hall.
Your administration is out of touch with the needs of students and workers. We will no longer stand for this. Should you once again choose to ignore our efforts at mitigating the effects of the crisis in higher education on our own campus, you will surely do more damage to the already floundering public image of the University of California in general and UCSD in particular. Know that we will engage in direct action and do everything in our power to pursue all our demands—institutional, state-wide, and national—with or without your help.
A coalition of students, faculty, staff, and workers at UCSD
Apparently, the administration was so unwilling to dialogue with students that individuals at the Chancellor’s Complex turned off the lights of their offices and hid behind their desks when members of the Public Education Coalition tried to hand-deliver this response to them.
We are now at CLICS, where 24-hour Study Space will continue throughout Finals Week.
Hope to see you here.