Since University of California President Mark G. Yudof was hired at over $900,000 per year twice as much as the last president UC workers, students, and teachers were more than slightly angered by his plan to cut funds.
Dozens of teachers, service workers, and students gathered in the noonday sun on Wednesday, July, 29 at the UCSB Visitors Center courtyard, in passionate protest against what they clearly regarded as the UC Regents’ and President Yudof’s fiscal flop.
“These cuts will affect the quality of life long-term,” said UCSB Art Professor Robert Williams of Yudof’s alleged missteps.
The UC Community Coalition for Option 4 (UCCC404), rejects three options offered by Yudof at the meeting of the Regents on July 16: salary cuts, furloughs, or both with the addition of student fee increases.
UCCC404 seeks other alternatives what coalition members call the fourth option. For example, an oil extraction tax will maintain CalWorks In-Home Support Services and Healthy Families, with about $300 million left over for public education, according to UCCC404. Coalition members said UC should go after some of that money. Regents ought to “defend, not de-fund” their universities, said faculty member Lisa Hajjar. “The state faces an unprecedented education crisis as a result of the incompetent stewardship of the Schwarzenegger administration and a minority of legislators and, in the UC system, the regents and president whose only response to the fiscal crisis is to cut and gut schools,” said Hajjar.
Hajjar said the coalition disagrees with the regents’ decision to grant Yudof “emergency powers,” and demands that the Commission on the Future of the UC include more varied viewpoints. She and others called for “transparency.”
Service Workers Still Struggling: Edward Woolfolk of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) said that the UC system does not necessarily depend on state funding, and has enough money to not make such dramatic cuts.
“The Vice Chancellor revealed last Wednesday that there is an emergency fund,” said Woolfolk. “Only 8.6 percent of [the University of California] funds come from the state budget.”
Woolfolk said it has taken two years for the UC and AFSCME to agree upon a contract which would raise service workers’ pay by 60 percent over five years but the new plan would demolish that settlement.
“We only receive the last two years if funds are available,” said Woolfolk. “Within the first year, they’re already claiming they have no funds.”
The UC’s bond rating was recently affirmed “stable,” according to literature generated by UCCC404, due to a “sizeable balance sheet that remains highly liquid, with $5.4 billion of unrestricted financial resources.” Nonetheless, teaching personnel will have their pay cut by four to 10 percent. Furloughs are also anticipated, though they have not been entirely clarified.
Students Seek Support: Due to a decreasing number of classes and an increasing number of undergraduates, student protestors said Yudof and the Regents decisions are taking a toll on them as well.
Fourth-year UCSB student Lindsey Quock said increased costs to students-tuition is to increase this year coming by over nine percent-are causing immeasurable mental and familial damage. Quock added that it was likely that there will be a mid-year spike in tuition and fees as well. “The 9 percent increase is only the beginning,” she said.
According to the UCCC404, many parts of the UC system have already surrendered the fight against costly fees. Berkeley Law, for instance, is now $36,000 per year.
“The state is systematically divesting from our generation,” said Quock.