On May 15th, 2015, history was made for the University of California. Despite threatened tuition hikes by the UC Regents, Governor Jerry Brown and UC President Janet Napolitano reached an agreement that the cost of tuition would be frozen until 2017. Although it was an important victory for the student movements that worked to create the freeze, the agreement indicates that once 2017 hits, there will be a 5% increase for three years, thus making it even more difficult for students to attend the highly acclaimed University of California campuses.
While it might seem like an issue that students are only affected by, this is rarely the case. The lack of access to higher education maps directly onto the lack of progression for the state of California. From parents who dream of sending their students to the campus that their child spent years preparing for to the faculty members who serve the students, this is an issue that everyone has a role in fighting for. If we want to march boldly into the undiscovered frontiers of science, policy, and everything in between, it is time that we begin fighting for the most valuable resource of the twenty-first century: our students.
The agreement, despite how historic it was, puts students against students. The University of California students who protested against tuition in 2015 will more than likely be graduated by 2017, eliminating them of the need to continue to protest tuition hikes. Now, student movements must dedicate every resource they have in working to educate and mobilize first and second year students who did not directly experience the threat of their tuition being a greater cost.
Next year is 2017, and it’s already spring quarter. Our time is limited in educating as many students as possible about what tuition hikes would do to the quality and accessibility of our education, while trying to balance our regular duties of classwork, actual work, and enough extracurricular to pad our resume so we can find a quality, loan-paying job after graduation. Whether you are an employee at McDonald’s or a policy analyst at the Hill, we need your help in making our demands heard despite our divided student population.
Communities in California benefit from the work that UC students do. My campus, UC Riverside, is home to over four hundred community organizations that work to develop and refine Riverside economically, environmentally, politically, socially, and academically. What’s more, the University of California is infamous for our life-saving research, in which undergraduate and graduate students do the legwork for. According to a report from the University of California, UC graduate students produced 585 new innovations in 2014. Since 1980, over 300 startup companies have been from University of California students, with profits generating $515 million and creating jobs for 3,400 people. Our work to better the community is something birthed out of our shared natural curiosity and innate passions about the world around and beyond us.
However, our work is not possible without a sustainable source of funding to encourage more students to apply and attend the University of California student. Nothing is more indicative of the state failing to provide educational advancement than a high school senior being robbed out of the joy of receiving an acceptance letter because the fees are too much for their family to afford. University of California tuition hikes are a community issue, not just a student issue.
The University of California released a new plan to admit 10,000 more students into the UC system over the next three years. While I jump at the opportunity of having more students from across the United States and around the globe experience the world-class education that I have been blessed to receive at Riverside, I cannot help but think of the other students who did not even apply because they knew that this was something they couldn’t afford.
They spent their entire high school experience trading parties for SAT preparation courses, proms for volunteering opportunities, and Saturday mornings sleeping in for tackling homework for their many SAT prep classes. This is not the way we should be rewarding hardworking students who dream of attending a University of California campus. What’s more, the students who can step foot into a UC should not have to walk chained to the debt that their degree will inevitably occur. Students have continually proven to bring positive returns on our investment, yet are the first ones to be punished or threatened.
Instead of immediately threatening the accessibility of students to enter the University of California, what if we take a long hard look at the way the system has repeatedly raised the paychecks of our administrators? Let’s look at the compensation that our administrators receive. Janet Napolitano, the president of the University of California, made $570,000 in 2014. Chancellor Dirks of UC Berkeley comes in close to Napolitano’s paycheck, making $492,226. While student slave away working, interning and studying, the Chancellors sit contentedly in their on-campus mansions. An affordable UC is possible, but it requires severe rethinking of the priorities that our administrators have.
The mission statement of the University of California reads, “The distinctive mission of the University is to serve society as a center of higher learning, providing long-term benefits..” However, by increasing tuition, the University is only serving the society that is privileged enough to afford attending college instead of working to ends meet, or able to live with the burden of student loan debt. UC students are already struggling, with over half of students reporting that they have skipped a meal in order to afford educational expenses. We’re already dealing with the severe lack of resources for mental health and sexual violence prevention and housing insecurity caused by inadequate housing ordinances and surging costs. Now is not the time to add another burden onto the UC students.
Parents, we need you to share your voice in saying that your child(ren) deserve better than an increased tuition to their already tight wallets. Students, we need your narratives and frustrations to bring credibility to the claims that an increased tuition is not okay. Community members, businesspeople, administrators, and volunteers, we need you to show that you value the accomplishments from UC students enough to stand with us.
So, are you in?
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Source: Black Voices Huffington Post
Link: Why UC Tuition Hikes Is Everyone’s Problem