Q&A is an irregular series on SOTA which will pose a question to a small group of faculty, staff or students from different campuses and compile their responses. If you would like to respond to the question, please do so in the comments section of this post or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks to Ken Ehrlich, Marc Herbst, Peter Krapp, Brett Stalbaum, and Fred Lonidier for their responses. “Calm Before the Storm” is the 3rd installment of Q & A:
Q: Recently on Remaking the University blog Michael Meranze (UCLA) reflected on the summer and the upcoming school year: “This year crucial issues about the organization of University life and work, about the relationships between the campuses, the intersection between UC and the larger Higher Education system, about pensions, staff layoffs, and student fees are going to confront us all. This summer may have been quiet—but in all likelihood it is the calm before the storm.” SOTA wants to know what challenges do people need to be preparing for, thinking about as the school year begins? What is on your mind?
A: Ken Ehrlich (UCR – Lecturer, Art Department) – The seeds of non-cooperation have been planted. Students I’m speaking with are organizing a massive outreach campaign to refuse to pay further fee increases. They understand that such an action would only work if significant numbers of students were willing to face the consequences of non-cooperation. Faculty members on several campuses have also been mulling over active refusal of certain restrictions that limit the productive pursuit of research and instruction. One concrete proposal put forth that seems to be gaining support is actively opening classes to the un-enrolled so long as it does not disrupt the learning environment. The contest over the meaning of “public” education is far from over. It seems clear that both faculty and students refuse to make demands on an administration whose priorities lie not with education but with efficiency and further marginalization. Students, in particular, are shifting from protest to action.
A: Marc Herbst (former UCSD Adjunct Professor, former adjunct CalState Fullerton Professor, former researcher for the LA Unified School District. Co-organizer of the UC Strikes and Beyond seminars at the LA Public School.) – We should be prepared to deeply engage in a political and cultural fight. A loving fight with room for an open heart in dialog with both “the other side” and people who are not involved at the moment, but… this is a fight.
If the public university system (and public education in general) is to be strengthened, we need to be prepared to go to the wall for it. Now is the time- as it has always been.
A: Peter Krapp (UCI) – Benefits redesign is going to hit this fall – meaning all UC employees are going to be squeezed again, seeing their total compensation go down quite a bit further.
A: Brett Stalbaum (UCSD) – Insurgency.
A: Fred Lonidier (UCSD) – We have to face whatever comes down when the California and U.C. budgets are final. All across the system are coalitions of faculty, students and unions which will continue to educate and protest the privatization of our university. There is a very active coalition of students, faculty and unions at UCSD. This year we really need to reach student parents and the voting public. Right now, plans are under way for the national October 7 Day of Action. In San Diego, a broad coalition is having a Planning Summit for the 7th at SDSU on 9/11. There is a state wide meetings afterward at SFSU and the November elections. But the goal has to be to eventually modify Proposition 13 as that is what kills us every time a state budget crises happens. We have to go for the long run. Check out: http://educationforallcoalition.com/missionvision/
SOTA Editorial Note: See one more response posted a few weeks later by micha cárdenas (UCSD)