Last year, students gathered on campuses, at the Capitol and in the streets to make their voices heard. They screamed that they were fired up, and cheered when senators said their cries echoed in the halls of the capitol building. They walked out of classes, were pepper sprayed and arrested, all to make regents and members of the legislature listen. Thousands of UC students spoke up then. But now students are ignoring an opportunity to speak to the quality of their education.
The 2011 UC Class and Lecture Availability Student Survey (CLASS) is a student-initiated, student-organized and student-run university-wide survey. The survey gives UC students the opportunity to rate the quality of their education in light of budget cuts and raised tuition. It takes about two minutes to complete, and participants are even given the incentives of possible prizes and cookies if they complete the survey. And apparently, students can’t be bothered to fill it out.
The survey’s creators are striving for responses from 20 percent of each campus’ student body.
As of Wednesday, UC Santa Cruz is in the lead for campus response rates. With 18.1 percent. At a university that prides itself for its activism, these numbers are downright embarrassing. Students’ apathy toward the survey gives critics further reason to claim student activism is more about getting drunk or breaking stuff than effecting change.
The goal of the library sit-in, the Kerr Hall occupation and the dance parties at UCSC last year was to bring attention to the plight of UC students, and they did just that. People are paying attention, and want to know how students have been affected by the budget cuts. UCSC executive vice chancellor Allison Galloway has even said the results of the survey will be taken into consideration in future budgetary decisions. Those in power want to know about the impact of suspended majors, pink-slipped professors and fired teaching assistants. The survey may not get the students’ collective adrenaline pumping the way barricading campus entrances did, but it’s what they were fighting for, and it’s just as important as the protests it took to get it.
In the fight for affordable public education, students didn’t necessarily receive all they wanted. Tuition was raised repeatedly, majors were suspended and class sizes are smaller. But students succeeded in making it known that they would not take threats to their education lying down, that they had opinions and power, and if nothing else, administrators would listen to what they had to say.
Students fought to make their voices heard, and now that someone’s listening, they seem to have nothing to say. They must take this opportunity to speak up, or UC students will have no one to blame for the state of their education than themselves.
CLASS Survey available at uc-class-survey.ucsc.edu.