I don’t think I’ll be participating in the planned walk out Thursday at UC campuses. I’m not clear what the goals of the walk out are to be. Are they to protest a short-term budget shortfall? To dispute the priorities in budget balancing? To lament the lack of voice in the process?
I’m not sure how walking off the job on Thursday will change the short-run budget issues. Short of printing their own money, neither the State nor the University can do much about the deficit. Of course, they could have done things in the past to have mitigated some of these problems (e.g. the University could be less dependent on State funds and the State could have institutions that make it less of a fiscal mess). But a protest today can’t change past actions. The best that can be said on this front for the walk out is that it could provide a modest encouragement towards making structural changes in the way the State and University do business; a very modest encouragement.
Also, the president doesn’t act as dictator nor the Regents an oligarchy. Shared governance means the University is also run by the faculty and they’ve weighed in on the issue. According to them, faculty and research quality should have precedence over access and affordability. “Our view about affordability is simple: if the state of California once again adopts the view that access and affordability are public goods worth supporting, they will be readily achievable.” To them, getting poor folks into the University is a public good and thus, it should be provided by the public, not from cuts in their paychecks.
Now voice: maybe there’s a point in protesting because we didn’t have a say in the process. But we do have a say. Students, mostly new students, can vote with their feet. There are plenty of private universities in the State and plenty of competition of all stripes outside the State. If fellow grad students don’t like the product they’re buying, then they should stop buying it.