Killing Our Culture2 min read

An open letter to UC President Mark Yudof

La Voz Editorial Board

15,000. 7,600. 1,000.

$15,000 – the amount of government support each University of California (UC) student received in the 1990s.$7,600 – the amount of government support each UC student receives today.1,000 – the number of UC faculty supporting system-wide walkouts on Sept. 24.

It is clear that the UC system is facing more than its fair share of growing fiscal, administrative and political challenges. Running this struggling system must be a difficult task.

The UC system was not always this way. Fees did not always prevent lower-income students from attending – and transferring into – California’s once-proud public university system.

Where is that pride today? It’s out fundraising with UC President Mark Yudof.

When Yudof took over the UC presidency in June 2008, he came with a background of infusing large-scale, public university systems with private money (usually from large companies). “Privatization” is what he excelled at in the University of Texas, and a major reason behind his placement at the head of the UCs.

Despite growing financial concerns in the UC, privatizing the system will not make students want to transfer to these once-great sources of undergraduate education.

A transfer student’s decision on where to transfer is not just determined by major. It’s a decision influenced by a university’s politics, values and educational culture.

Privatizing a public university can change its priorities. Instead of striving to offer a world-class undergraduate education, graduate programs take precedence. Research’s aims are no longer academic; they have for-profit goals, deadlines and conditions. Liberal arts programs flounder while the sciences take over course catalogs.

Privatizing a public university decreases its quality among the population that relies on it most – California’s undergraduate students. They are the ones who need an educational community to join, one that isn’t focused on fundraising quotas and research deadlines.

Undergraduate students are the ones being pushed aside as the UC, and its president, struggle to find financial resources.

Despite Yudof’s successes in securing private funding for the UC, he is sorely lacking in holding the state budget accountable.

The state is not alone in taking the blame for the UC’s money problems; many internal processes need to be revised to cure the ailing UC system. But a public university cannot ignore its place in the state budget.

Mark Yudof should spend less time fundraising and more time lobbying.

With its political and cultural clout, the UC system can do much more to assist legislators in finding a way to fund its schools.

Among all the confusion, frustration and administrative disarray, there is a priceless experience currently offered to UC students system-wide: they are learning about the power of protest.

By living through this tumultuous time we can be aware and appreciative of our first-amendment right to assemble and petition for change, to fight for what makes a pubic university great.

For that lesson, President Yudof, we thank you.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email