Sep 24 2009 libcom.org
In an effort to protest education cuts, students and staff at ten
University of California campuses will stage a walkout on 24 September
University of California administrators say they want to keep things
running as smoothly as possible Thursday -- the first day of school at
many campuses -- when many faculty, staff members and students are
expected to walk out of classes, host rallies and stage a systemwide labor
strike for technical employees.
UC is facing one of the worst years in its history as it tries to close a
budget gap of more than $750 million in lost revenue from the state and
increased expenses. To balance the budget, administrators have ordered
unpaid furloughs for nonunion employees, staff layoffs and course
cutbacks, and are expected to raise tuition for next year, making it 45
percent higher than last year's student fees.
Those actions have infuriated employees and students.
"There is a lot of anger and frustration, and people need to vent that,"
said Dan Mogulof, a spokesman for UC Berkeley, where classes have been in
session for a month. "The main concern is that the faculty are expected to
meet their obligations to students -- giving them notice about course
cancellations and changes, and making sure that the course material is
It's a sentiment echoed by administrators across the 10-campus system. The
last thing they want Thursday are empty classrooms -- or rooms filled with
students with no one at the podium to teach them. But it's a possibility
on many campuses.
Since late August, some UC faculty members have been urging all
instructors to walk off the job Sept. 24 to protest the university's
handling of its crisis and a policy that furlough days not be taken on
days they teach. More than 1,000 professors and associate professors
across all campuses have signed a petition urging the walkout.
Other faculty members at UC Berkeley have taken a different approach,
forming a group called Save the University. They support their colleagues
who plan to walk out, but will hold educational forums on UC's financial
troubles from the perspective that there are better ways to bolster the
Even so, many of the same faculty members may cancel classes or hold them
off campus to avoid crossing a picket line by the University Professional
and Technical Employees union, which plans a one-day strike because it has
been working without a contract for 18 months.
Meanwhile, some student groups have issued statements in support of their
Amid all of this, campus administrators say they are hoping for business
"I think that most of our classes will go off without a hitch," said
Patricia Turner, vice provost for undergraduate studies at UC Davis, which
starts school Thursday.
"We completely support freedom of speech," she added.
It's a message the campuses are sending to the protesters -- even as they
urge students and faculty to go to class.
"I understand that on some campuses, including ours, labor actions could
impact the opening of classes this Thursday," UC Santa Cruz Provost David
Kliger said in a message to all employees sent Monday. "I hope that those
who participate in this action try to minimize disruption to our students
-- the people we are here to serve."
Some faculty members want a different message.
"I'd like them to talk to the students who are going to have to drop out
because they can't meet the (expected) tuition increases," said Shannon
Steen, a UC Berkeley associate professor of theater. "These are the
students who are going to be hurt the most."
The resolution of the University of California Students Association
supporting the action can be found here:
An interview with one of the professors who will be taking part in the
walkout can be found here: