In 2009-10 the state of California’s $42 billion dollar deficit left many state-funded agencies, including public schools and the UC and CSU systems scrambling to function with drastically reduced resources. Reactions in the form of protests and demonstrations dominated state and sometimes national news throughout the year. In March, Governor Schwarzenegger announced that he plans to increase funding for higher education by $370 million in his 2010 budget despite the state’s continued fiscal struggles.
The Commission on the Future, a group established to make recommendations on the future of the UC assuming continual fiscal difficulties, holds its first meeting. The group’s recommendations, released in March, include some controversial proposals, such as accepting more out-of-state students, increasing the proportion of online courses for graduate and undergraduate programs, designing three-year major programs, cutting major requirements, and increasing student fees. The commission plans to present their finalized recommendations to the UC Regents in early fall of 2010.
September 24 Walkout
On Thursday, September 24, bus routes to campus were rerouted, while faculty, students andworkers conducted the year’s first protests of the UC’s budget shortfalls. The University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE) union at UC Santa Cruz led the walkout to protest the elimination of staff for research programs and the UC’s budget shortfall. Student protesters then occupied the Graduate Student Commons above Joe’s Pizza and Subs in Quarry Plaza for one week.
Regents Meeting: Fee Increases and Reactions
Facing a $637.1 million dollar cut in funding from the state of California, the UC Regents voted to pass a 32.5 percent increase in undergraduate student fees. Protesters marched at both the Regents’ meeting, at UCLA’s Covel Commons and on UCSC, shutting down the campus.
The first of the fees would begin in the Winter 2010 quarter and would consist of a system-wide fee of $585 and the second increase would begin in the 2010-11 school year, increasing student fees by $1,344. Overall, the UC educational fee was raised to a yearly total of $10,302 a year.
November Kerr Hall Occupation
In response to the UC Regents approval of a measure to raise student fees by 32.5 percent, 150 students occupied Kerr Hall, the building that houses UCSC administration and the Chancellors office. The occupation lasted for 66-hours, causing damages that administrators say totaled up $34,992.02. Thirty-five students were held responsible for the occupation and charged $944 each to cover the cleanup for the damages to Kerr Hall.
About 1,000 students, teachers and supporters of education converged at the state capitol in Sacramento to protest state cuts to schools from K-12 to universities. At the “educate the state” rally on the Capitol steps, everyone from teachers to legislators and parents spoke about the value of education.
At UCSC, protestors successfully shut down campus by blocking both main entrances, resulting in all classes being cancelled for the day as well as campus services such as dining halls being closed. Hundreds of students, parents and teachers demonstrated at UCs, CSUs, elementary and high schools and community colleges around the state.
In Sacramento, UC Davis students attempting to block I-80 were stopped by a police blockade, while in Oakland demonstrators successfully shut down the I-880 for about an hour.
The UCSC Academic Senate’s Committee on Educational Policy (CEP) announced that the community studies major will be suspended as of next year, citing disorganization and disagreement within the department as reasons for the decision.
The department, which comprised the community studies major and Social Documentation Graduate Program, had been subject to budget cuts in recent years which many postulate could have contributed to the suspension.
The major, which took an interdisciplinary and hands-on approach to social justice, will be reevaluated in two years time and could be reinstated but as of now, it is barred to incoming students.
Crowds of UCSC students, workers and educators gathered at the two main campus entrances for an event titled “Walk-Out to Education” in support of higher education.
Professors and lecturers held sections outside while others read poetry to the crowd. Signs adorning the main campus entrance read, “Talk to Us,” “Democratize the Regents,” and “Dondé Está Mi Dinero.” Robert Meister, a Professor of Social Sciences and Political Thought, who was present at the demonstration, said, “A tuition-dependent UC is a UC dependent on private borrowing. There is something better than the best private education, and it is the best public education.”