FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 18, 2014

CONTACT: Margaret Mary Downey, margaretmaryd@gmail.com (email); 717-471-0459 (cell)

Cal Progressive Coalition Announces Opposition to UC Plan to Raise Tuition, Plans for Week of Action

Berkeley: On Wednesday November 19th,  the UC Regents will vote on a plan that would increase tuition by up to 27% over the next 5 years. The cost of attendance for in-state undergraduates could increase by more than $3,000, to over $15,500 per year. For professional students like social workers and nurses, the increase is greater. For out-of-state students, the increase would be more than $31,000.

As the Cal Progressive Coalition, a collective of students, workers, and community members, we oppose these tuition hikes and the larger process of privatization as absolutely the wrong direction for the UC. President Napolitano’s “long-term stability plan” aggressively demands more support from the state and raises tuition costs while continuing to spend money on administrative bloat, chancellors’ salary increases, and wasteful subcontracting. While privatization is supposed to bring greater efficiency and accountability to the university, we see the opposite: the UC has become rife with waste and inefficiencies, and is now absolutely unaccountable to the state or to the students it is supposedly serves.

These tuition hikes are the latest in this trend of unaccountability. We see this unaccountability as the UC sells off the Gill Tract farm land to corporate interests. We see inefficiency and waste as the UC is wasting millions on contracting out workers, while doling out raises to UC executives. We see irresponsibility as the UC ignores calls to divest from dangerous fossil fuels.

Privatization and tuition hikes hurt students, workers, the middle-class, and marginalized communities in numerous ways:

Declining accessibility: The high fee, high-but-inconsistent aid model deters first-generation students from even applying, and subjects UC students to a financial aid system that lacks transparency or predictability. The UC’s increased reliance on out-of-state and international students to fill funding gaps means that fewer Californians have access to the institution their tax dollars have helped to build. The proposed hike in tuition would particularly affect working class students and students of color, making this institution even less accessible to those communities than it already is. Research shows that higher tuitions lead to lower graduation rates for low-income students. Students already struggle to pay tuition, often working multiple part-time jobs and going tens of thousands of dollars into debt.

 

Declining quality: While the UC administration proposes to raise tuition, they also ignore calls to regulate class sizes and fund education so students do not have to work multiple jobs while in school. Students are funneled into industries that will enable them to pay back massive debt rather than seeking education that fosters growth, both personal and in sustainable economies and communities. Additionally, management now vastly outnumber faculty across the UCs, prioritizing bureaucracy over recruitment and retention of quality educators.

 

Declining working conditions: For the service, patient care, and academic workers at the university, corner-cutting, short-staffing, and subcontracting mean dangerous working conditions and poverty.

 

The Regents distract from their own role in privatization by pitting students and workers against the state. If the state falls short of providing what the UC wants, tuition will be raised to compensate. The plan ignores the fact that any increase cuts short the Regents’ agreed-upon 2012-2016  tuition freeze and again makes annual tuition hikes the new normal. While the UC administration continues to unilaterally mismanage funding and ignore student, worker, and community voices, they cannot reasonably point to Sacramento as the source of the problem.

Our actions: Following a week of campus actions, CPC members along with students and workers throughout the state will attend the Regents’ meeting at the UCSF Mission Bay campus on November 19th. Collective action like this has been effective in the past: in fact, if the proposed tuition increases from several years ago had not been successfully blocked through mass mobilization and pressure, tuition at the UC could have ballooned to as high as $19,000 this year.

As a coalition, we envision a future where we and our families have access to quality, affordable, public education that we take pride in supporting, attending, and working to create. We will fight together for that future.

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