Tuesday, August 11, 2009

UCSC Faculty Association Comments on Current Positioning

from Christopher Connery

The UCSCFA is meeting this Wednesday and while we have some pressing issues around our particular FA response to the furlough plan, some of us also want to make progress toward an articulation of core position points.

(The Glantz memo and the Newfield response to the Hollinger post have been very helpful here and will be very useful to us. The exchange--among other things-- also indicates potential areas of division among faculty and between campuses. Chris N's response to Hollinger reminds me, for example, that many faculty across the system are unaware of the unequal distribution of GF-share across the campuses, or of other ways, and in whose interests, subsidy flows are directed. Fact-sheets will be useful here. The recent cuts have already witnessed rewards for a longer history of preferential treatment --such as the furlough policies that targeted base pay rather than gross earnings).

It might be useful to articulate some core position points before the students come back. How strong would the support be among faculty in opposition across the campuses for the following core principles (from the Glantz memo and the Futures Report):

1. Recommitment to the Master Plan, with a massive publicity campaign directed at the people, legislature, and media. We would ask that our administrators sign on to this plan, but would move ahead on our own without them if necessary. Given the estimate of a shortage of 1,000,000 California college graduates by 2025 (the PPIC report at http://www.ppic.org/main/publication.asp?i=835 is coherent and easy to follow)--to say nothing of the political and moral arguments for a better-educated citizenry-- we might need an even stronger, more democratic, and even less regressive master plan than the existing one. This will require a huge increase in the CC-to-university transfer rate, and other forms of articulation with CSU and K12. The Futures Report makes a very convincing case for supporting a version of the master plan, and suggests some significant flaws in alternate revenue-stream models (endowment, privatization). I think there might be some political advantage in a maximalist program of a public university for the public. Opposition to tuition and fee increases and expansion of access to the university as core elements would be very attractive to students too. (This would also argue against increasing out-of-state admissions).

2. No subsidies, of any kind, for privatization. This would require more analytical clarity and precision on the nature of subsidies as well-- Bob Meister, for example, is quite clear and cogent on this. So I'm in agreement with the other unions' call for budgetary transparency. This could have the further advantage of dissociating--in the public mind-- public-minded activist faculty from pay-raise heavy bureaucrats.

3. We would welcome a range of alternate funding proposals, such as those put forward by UCSB's Coalition for Option 4. Budget proposals of this kind-- politically coherent and clear-- would be particularly helpful to the students. Among certain student groups, there have been fairly widespread rumors about secret stashes of money, and the non-existence of the current crisis. I think a range of proposals along the UCSB line could be developed pretty easily.

It's hard for me to predict what student activism will produce this fall. Last spring, student activism on our campus was strong and sincerely felt, but somewhat confused in its demands. I think it would be very helpful to the students if the faculty in opposition had a clear statement of principles, and some clearly drawn lines. Any help you can give us with this is appreciated.

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