Connect and Rise

by Gazuedro, 4 may 2009
The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the entire coalition.

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The inter-connections between organizations, students, and movements at the UC are perhaps the most important critique held by the newUC project. It is that, beyond the rhetoric of each individual organization there is a broader connection that proves to unite us.

The mandated and equitable functions of the university have become a joke lately. The university has acted out of step with what many students, among other stakeholders, feels as necessary. For instance, the university consistently acts to expand the university rather than stabilize and provide a consistent bedrock for an indefinitely successful department, program, or other endeavor. Indeed, the criticisms of the UC are various and stem from multiple voices and perspectives, but the underlying implicit outcry of resistance relies on the lack of democratic stakeholder control of the university.

Even the anti-corporatization movement itself does not fully comprise all the other movements vying for a change in university practices and policies and thus cannot speak for everyone. The criticisms held by some as to the approach of the anti-corporatization movement’s perceived amalgamation of other movements holds particular importance. One such view includes the fear that the anti-corporatization movement seeks to capitalize, ironically, on the success of the other movements; another view criticizes the lack of apparent connection between the anti-corporatization movement and others. However, it is that existing connection that legitimizes solidarity actions and joint actions between diverse movements. For instance, the coalition to save community studies, or CSCS, at UCSC may directly speak to the diminishing of the CS department, but this criticism has roots in a larger critique. The larger critique includes the elimination of necessary faculty and the diminishing of programs that do not provide corporate financial support. The anti-corporatization critique relies heavily on the view that education is a human right and that as a corollary, curricula depend not on what may be viewed as valuable by private institutions, but rather what is valuable to those that seek the education. Furthermore, the speaking of ‘values’ is not intentioned to mean what may provide profit in the future for students, but rather what the interests held by students may be. For instance, the value of understanding one’s own heritage & history that may differ from traditional studies of western civilization cannot be viewed as a commodity to be slashed or ignored. Indeed, the related issue of the lack of students that come from marginalized communities exists as another derivative, if only in part, from this same connection and larger critique. It is within this connection that we find bonds, and it is because of these bonds that we must fight for a new University of California.

It is not the intention of the anti-corporatization movement to hijack other movements, but it is the understanding of the anti-corporatization movement that something systemic is awry. It is the heart of the matter that this flawed system be addressed. As such, there is no compromise for real democratic stakeholder control and a real end to the lack of transparency, a real end to the lack of accountability, and a real end to the increasing corporatization that currently exists at the UC. At the same time, it is not beyond the movement to progress through negotiation and public discourse. In fact it is that public discourse that must be attained to create a university that can see beyond corporate-styled practices. Ultimately, it is diverse discussion and conversation that must be held within the university to solidify a unified movement to foment real change beyond band-aid measures. The movement needs as many people involved as possible to encourage creativity for ways to change the university and for the ability to have an honest democracy.

Deteriorating conditions at the UC have been excused by budget issues or assigning blame to the economy. The reality of the situation cannot be properly analyzed or comprehended given the tools, or lack thereof, that the UC provides. Stakeholders are expected to submit to the all-knowing administration about the budget, but the inability to view options and create solutions independently suffocates opportunities. Indeed, the design of administrative structure is at fault here, not for any budget shortfall that may come from the state, but certainly for cumulative mistakes and errors in judgment due to the narrow perception that private industries stress on the UC institution. It is by that nature that the anti-corporatization movement seeks to alter the administrative structure of the UC, if only in small steps and if only at one campus at a time. The benefit that can be provided by stakeholder democracy include a refocusing of interests towards a more equitable education for everyone within the means of the UC. Furthermore, an honest stakeholder democracy can result in progress that is mediated both by practical issues, such as financial reality, and socially responsible practices.

If the movement is to grow, it must be understood by everyone that the term ‘stakeholder’ is not restricted to people in the Community Studies department, to the Latin America and Latino Studies department, or any specific organization, person, or identity. The future of the Physical and Biological Sciences are no more nor less important that the future of the Humanities or Social Sciences, as this inherent diversity creates a strong education for us and future generations. Furthermore, those affected by the logic of scarcity that the UC administration and regents espouse span across the divisions they have created. The talk of cutting one area above another, pitting one program or department against another, pitting students against each other other –this creates further problems. Through restructuring of the UC and through the massive reservoirs of untapped creativity and experience that forms the collective wisdom of the UC stakeholders, it is possible to overcome this so-called “budget crisis”. More importantly, the resistance against divisive regent and administrative practices will create a better future for anyone who seeks an education at the University of California.

see also The Project (volume 5 issue 2) for more informative articles

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