Ilustration by Bela Messex

The teaching assistants at UC Santa Cruz usually grade your essays and finals, lead discussion sections, provide a connection to the professor, and help establish the curriculum and teaching style of the class.  Let’s take a moment to realize just how important TAs are to the University of California, though they deserve much more than just a moment.

Granted, there is some overlap in workload with the professors, but they need TAs just as much as we, the students, do.  How else would a class of 200 students receive their essays or tests back in a timely fashion?

However, the TA is a dying breed, due greatly to constant budget issues that have plagued our university system for years. And now, we face the possibility of losing an additional 120 TAs.

We need our TAs now more than ever, and making cuts to that sector of our university would be doing a huge disservice to the students who essentially fund every aspect of our university at this point.

It’s our money, so we should be able to say what we want to keep — and what we want to keep is our TAs.

Hang with us here, because as crazy as this may sound, the TAs are integral to our learning environment.  If we take them out of the system, we’re going to be the ones facing the repercussions.

Let’s build up some of this nightmare.

Cutting TAs would mean: less student-instructor interaction in larger classes, more difficulty enrolling in smaller courses (since the number of TAs usually dictates the class size), and even fewer places to engage in open discussion and refine our perspectives.

And that’s just what we’re able to perceive. Who knows what else would follow in the aftermath of more cuts? It’s probably safe to say there would be more protests, and deservedly so.

Our university is hemorrhaging.  It’s an issue that California is dealing with, from state jobs to the housing market and even NBA basketball teams (farewell, Sacramento Kings). The issue is universal.

We just want to know that the university is truly looking into all aspects of their spending, and that they aren’t just figuring that these graduate students — who give up their time, blood, sweat and tears — are not just a dime a dozen. Individual TAs can’t be easily replaced, especially while they’re getting screwed over as a whole.

City on a Hill Press has always suggested looking at cutting from the top, because top UC administrators’ salaries could easily pay for many TAs.

Another possible solution is offering class credit to TAs instead of paying them. This is something that is already done in some departments, such as psychology and economics, and college core courses.

These are hard times for everyone in California, especially within the UC system — with an additional $500 million in cuts on the way, and the possibility of even more.  However, making cuts to the TAs, the very people who arguably have the largest connection with students and the way that they learn, is not the right move for the UC system.