About 500 students are currently blockading entrances to the University of California Board of Regents meeting at UC San Francisco this morning, where the Regents are scheduled to vote on a budget that presumes a 24 percent across-the-board increase on UC tuitions over four years. Picketing students have pledged to shut the meeting down.
According to Charlie Eaton, one of the organizers of the protest and co-author of a report released this week that charged the Regents with employing exotic financial instruments that doubled the UC system's debt load over three and a half years, as of 8:45AM PT only a third of the Regents have made it inside the building. About 100 students are inside, according to Eaton.
Millions of dollars in new tax revenue earmarked for the University of California system as part of the state's recently passed Proposition 30 will instead be routed to major financial firms, because of bad bets made by a Wall Street-influenced UC Board of Regents.
Over the last decade, tuition and fees for undergraduates in the UC system have tripled, adding enormous debt burdens to UC graduates and pushing lower-income students into the already overburdened state college and community college systems, or out of higher education altogether. Members of the UC Board of Regents, which governs the system and which approved the tuition hikes, have blamed the increases on the bad economy and on politicians.
However, according to a new report written by five doctoral students at UC Berkeley, in the years preceding the 2008 financial collapse, members of the Board of Regents themselves had overseen "a qualitative shift in the financial practices of the University of California" by employing the same kinds of exotic financial instruments that precipitated the meltdown on Wall Street - primarily, bond issuances hedged by interest rate swaps.
I was overjoyed to see that a serious progressive, one who is COMMITTED to helping TEACHERS, is being supported by one of the most influential of our unions, UC-AFT. We need to STOP sending back to Washington the same old incumbents who can't seem to separate themselves from their corporate sponsors. I personally think they should be registering as LOBBYISTS when they take so much money from the corporations.
Here's the release I received:
Marina del Rey, CA, January 27, 2010 -- The University of California American Federation of Teachers (UC-AFT) has endorsed public school teacher Marcy Winograd for Congress in her challenge to Jane Harman in the 36thDistrict. The union local represents 3,000 lecturers and librarians on ten UC campuses.
(An excellent comment by Former Asm. Hannah Beth Jackson of SpeakOut. The LA Times editorial is spot-on. Perhaps now would be a time for post-partisan Arnold to lead by voicing support for a legal scholar of the highest order. UPDATE: In the interim, Speaker Nunez has written Mr. Drake a letter (PDF) protesting the unhiring. Text of the letter in comments. - promoted by Brian Leubitz)
When I learned that UC Irvine had just hired Erwin Chemerinsky to become the first dean of their newly created law school, I was very impressed. It's quite rare for any law school to get one of the greatest legal scholars of our day as its chief. To get someone of Chemerinsky's stature to be the first dean of a new law school is an even greater coup. This is the real deal- a person who is going to put a beleaguered UC Irvine on the map and very quickly.
I didn't think for a moment, "Wow, and now we'll start putting out progressive lawyers to match the thousands being rubber-stamped out of conservative institutions, like those overrunning the federal government and the executive branch, in particular." What I thought, and apparently like so many others who have worked with Chemerinsky or heard him speak, is that this University will become an institution of excellence and pride, with thoughtful and quality lawyers. With a dean of Chemerinsky's reputation, this school will quickly put itself on the map. Go UC Irvine! ... Not.