Monday, November 23, 2009

Laurie Essig: Lessons from the University of California student protests

Lessons from the UC student protests
by Laurie Essig
Class Warfare

UC Santa Cruz students are still occupying a building after rate hikes were announced across the University of California system last week.

A system wide, 32 percent fee increase approved Wednesday amid the state’s budget crisis sparked protests at several UC campuses, including both Santa Cruz and Berkeley, where groups of students seized control of several administration buildings.

These 32% rate hikes, we are told, are unavoidable. The students have their doubts. So do I.

The ugly truth is that universities have become mini-versions of Neoliberal corporate America. The people at the very top- the presidents and provosts and countless vice presidents- make a quarter million or even a half million dollars a year. A good chunk of all teaching is done by “Adjunct” professors, meaning that getting their PhD has landed them a job where they teach 4 classes a semester (more than full-time faculty) at a couple of thousand dollars a class with no benefits. And the staff- always underpaid- remains so.

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