To the Regents of the University of California,
I am writing to urge you to fulfill your responsibility as the Regents of the University of California to demand that the Legislature and Governor work with the UC to prevent the destruction of one of the great public universities in the world. You cannot allow a resentment-driven and discredited form of politics to destroy one of the great Californian institutions. You are the guardians of the University and every citizen of California depends upon your leadership to protect it. Please do not allow the leadership of the State to be held hostage by a strident political minority, hell-bent on aggravating divisions and differences.
We urge you to galvanize public opinion and promote commonly shared goals by drawing up a new Master Plan. A great public University is a public good Californians cannot afford to destroy; California needs to improve its comparative educational capital (it ranks 25th among states in the proportion of its residents age 26-34 who hold bachelor's degrees, well behind the largest states, New York, Illinois and Virginia) in order to remain economically viable. Higher education cuts in the state of California will do direct damage to the economy and the state of our civic culture. We should be leaders, not laggards in formulating the priorities of a 21st century democracy.
In the past, we have chosen to invest in bubbles while shrinking government and public services. The time for that is over. Joan Didion deplored the destructive short sightedness of her beloved home state's institutions and politics, which always lagged far behind the state's changing demographics and its shifting political and social needs. We are at a critical juncture in the history of public higher education: you can either rewrite and defend a new Master Plan to educate California's future leaders and workers, or we can stand by and watch the destruction of a public good that has been the envy of the world.
Director, UCI Humanities Center
Film and Media Studies, English and Comparative Literature
Irvine, CA 92697