This has been an intense week for our university. Protests against fee hikes have occurred on our campus and throughout the system. The reasons for the protests are clear: the promise of an affordable UC education for all is under siege, victim of a state and nation reeling in the midst of a historic recession.
This is a low point for public higher education in California. Spending for prisons now outpaces that for higher education. UC faculty and staff have already absorbed significant pay cuts and layoffs. Funding is diminishing at every level as we struggle to ensure that you continue to enjoy academic opportunities and experiences commensurate with our world-class reputation.
I understand your frustration. I share it.
I applaud your efforts to be heard. I applaud your passion and commitment. There are many avenues for expressing your opinions, from campus rallies to writing letters to your state legislators, to speaking to members of the community about how important it is to protect the University for future generations. It will take many voices to get our message to stick and to get the kind of support the University needs in Sacramento. I ask you to join me in this effort. We have an enormous task in reemphasizing to the people of California how important well-funded, affordable public higher education is to the future success of our state. I believe that through our collective efforts we can and will be heard.
We have a proud history of free speech, here at Irvine and throughout the University of California. With freedom comes responsibility, including not disrupting the educational work of the University – which, after all, you are fighting to preserve. Responsibilities also include respecting and abiding by campus policy and the law. Unfortunately if certain lines are crossed – such as violence towards others or intentional destruction of campus property – the effective power of our voices is muted, and the legal support of the University is relinquished. This is unnecessary and counterproductive for all concerned.
Affordable, world-class public higher education is in our collective best interest. You are powerful advocates, and working together we can insure the University’s future.
Michael V. Drake
Filed Under: Opinion