Monday, October 19, 2009

UC Pres Yudof on Meister Exposé

UCSC: Following up on that, one kind of example that I've been thinking about lately of transparency is this -- UCSC Professor Bob Meister has, like, written this piece, I don't know if you have heard of it, it's called "They Pledged Your Tuition: An Open Letter to UC [Students]."

It is totally untrue, by the way.

UCSC: OK, well then ...

It just came in the other day and we've written a response. It is untrue because we are not allowed to use student fees to pay bonded indebtedness.

UCSC: So what can you tell us here since you have, you know, this smaller number of students that are able to listen to you in person. Where did he come up with this then?

Damned if I know. He took two numbers that, you know, that we had pledged toward debt and when the fees were going up. [inaudible] It's just untrue. We're not allowed to use fees for that purpose. The fees are used for operating expenses of the university. The reason we made these pledges, cause it will lower-if you pledge the whole campuses as opposed to just the residence hall, or whatever, it lowers the interest rate which means students pay less for their dorm rooms and the like. It's just not true, flat-out not true; misinformation.

UCSC: And are you guys going to come out with a response to that?

Yes. We are.

UCSC: You have one?

It's finished I think. . . . You know we just got this this week, you know, and we want to give you accurate information so it takes a couple of days to respond to this-I bet the preparation time is three days to respond to this. I mean this is not a standard story, we have to research our answer and give it to you.

Ed/Psych Library Teach-in, 10/16

Daily Cal:
Nearly 60 UC Berkeley students and faculty attended a teach-in at the Education Psychology Library in Tolman Hall last Friday in protest of what they view as the growing privatization of the university.

Attendees gathered before the library closed and held their teach-in past the library's 5 p.m. closing time, as UCPD officers stood outside. The teach-in ended around 5:40 p.m., at which point some attendees left to join Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory bus drivers in a protest on Gayley Road and Hearst Avenue.

According to participants, last Wednesday's announcement that libraries hours would be restored did not change the purpose of the teach in.

"This is bigger than just libraries," said Andi Walden, a Middle Eastern studies and political science double major. "Our intent all along has been to open up public spaces, this is one expression of that."

Friday, October 16, 2009

What a coincidence!

The UC Berkeley administration has decided to reopen the libraries and return to the spring 2009 schedule, a shift that will be phased in beginning this weekend and continuing through November. The official announcement goes out of its way to diffuse any connection with the action carried out in the Anthropology library last weekend. But guess which library they decided to reopen first?
Saturday library hours to be restored

Thanks to funding provided by the Chancellor and Provost, Cal's subject specialty libraries will receive funding to reopen on Saturdays, similar to last Spring semester's Saturday hours.

This will be phased in, since the libraries need to hire and train new students to work in the libraries on Saturdays.

The first library to reopen on Saturdays will be the Education/Pscyhology Library in Tolman Hall, open Saturday, October 17 from noon - 5pm. As Saturday hours are restored in other libraries, we will announce them here and post them on the Library Hours page.

UC Berkeley administration responds to library action

The following email was sent by Harry Le Grand, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, to UC Berkeley students on Wednesday afternoon:
Dear Students,

I am very pleased to announce that library hours across the UC Berkeley campus will be returning to the spring 2009 schedule, the standard schedule that existed before budget cuts forced us to reduce weekend hours at most libraries within the campus's library system.

This decision was made in consultation with Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer, who secured funding for the expanded service hours through gifts from parents of UC Berkeley students.

Recent events and concerns raised by students, faculty and staff served as important reminders to all of us that libraries are a critical resource for students and a vital part of this university. I am grateful to the donors, the Chancellor and Provost, for their efforts.

With funding secured, library managers will now begin hiring and training student workers to staff the libraries during the expanded hours. We will begin by expanding the hours of at least one branch library this weekend and will continue with a phased approach of expanding library hours until we are operating under the spring 2009 schedule. This return to the standard schedule will occur no later than mid-November.

In the interim, please be aware that many of our existing library facilities are not being used at capacity and provide abundant study space through the week and weekend. This includes more than 1,000 seats available in Moffitt library and the Gardner Stacks. You may recall that, last week, a generous donor provided funds to allow students 24-hour access to those facilities during finals. Details on that gift and the finals schedule are available under the News and Events section of the library home page:

Current information on hours of operation for all libraries in our system is always available at:

Expanding the hours of our libraries requires not only generous support but also the dedicated work of library managers and other staff who, working under difficult conditions, have remained dedicated to doing all that they can to serve the faculty, students and staff of this community. I'd like to extend my thanks to them and the entire campus community.


Tom Leonard
University Librarian
The library action scheduled for Friday is still on.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Study-In #2: Friday, Oct. 16

Media coverage of "study-in," Oct. 9-10

San Francisco Chronicle:
Several hundred UC Berkeley students took over the anthropology library for 24 hours this weekend to protest UC-wide budget cuts, in particular Saturday closures of small campus libraries that students use for studying and research.

Organizers said nearly 300 students -- along with dozens of supportive staff and faculty members -- showed up at the anthropology library shortly before 5 p.m. Friday, when the facility was scheduled to close for the weekend.

Instead, students flooded the room and set up camp -- arranging their books and laptops on long tables and setting out food and pillows and blankets. About 80 students spent the night in the library, some studying almost all night, others curled up to sleep in corners and between high bookcases. On Saturday, students continued to study and hold teach-ins to talk about campus budget issues until 5 p.m., the library's usual closing time.
This is the face of a new student movement, a movement invested in our spaces of learning, and one which demands to control the terms and conditions of our education. For tonight and tomorrow, we have transformed the space of the Berkeley Anthropology Library into one of study, learning, teaching, and community-building. During the 24 hours that we’re holding the library, there will be five faculty teach-ins, two student teach-ins, an open-mike poetry slam, numerous study groups, and a long-overdue open discussion on privilege and inequality in the context of this struggle.

That this was organized and pulled off with success in under a week is testament not only to the hard work of the organizers, but far more to the general state of campus and the eagerness on the part of the community to take action.

The show of civil disobedience in the Anthropology Library this weekend follows on the footsteps of the university-wide walkout and rally on September 24 -- said to be the largest protest in the bay area since the Vietnam War -- as well as the student occupation of the graduate commons at UC Santa Cruz. And there’s more coming: a planned conference on public education on October 24 sponsored by the General Assembly, a jazz funeral for the university on October 30, and certainly, there will be more direct actions of the sort of this weekend’s library action. At the same time, many choose to direct their efforts towards Sacramento.


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Monday, October 12, 2009

"They Pledged Your Tuition"

From Bob Meister, professor of Political and Social Thought at UC Santa Cruz and president of the Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA), a damning exposé of the priorities of the UC administration. Here's the quick version:
How does UC sell $1.3 billion in construction bonds immediately after declaring an “extreme financial emergency,” slashing funds for teaching and research and cutting staff and faculty pay? By using your tuition as collateral. Higher tuition lets UC borrow more for construction even while it cuts instruction and research.

You’re often told that your tuition goes up because the state pays less for higher education, but you’re almost never told that UC isn’t obliged to use your tuition in the way it uses public money. Unlike state funds, your tuition money can also pay the interest on construction bonds and be used as bond collateral.

UC has in fact promised its bond trustee (Bank of New York Mellon Trust) and the companies that rate bonds (S&P and Moody’s) that bondholders have first claim on your tuition in the event of default. It has also promised bondholders that it will raise tuition as needed to avoid bond default. Most importantly, UC has pledged to do nothing to lower the ratings on its bonds. Your tuition is not only pledged to Wall Street, Wall Street could demand the next tuition hike by threatening to lower UC’s Aa1 bond rating.

Harvard, the world’s richest educational corporation, curbed construction when endowments fell because its people and programs came first. Its bond rating, slightly higher than UC’s, does not seem to have suffered. UC, however, seems to have the opposite priorities. It started borrowing against your tuition in spring 2004 -- when Gov. Schwarzenegger gave it a green light to raise tuition, and claims the ability to do this in every prospectus for bonds partially backed by your tuition.

By June 2008, UC’s pledged collateral has jumped by 60% (from $4.2 billion to $6.72 billion). Tuition, a large and growing component of that collateral, will have risen by 109% since 2004 if this year’s increase happens. The Regents have approved another $2B in projects that they plan to fund primarily with tuition-backed bonds, because this is where their debt-bearing capacity will grow. When these new bonds are issued, after your tuition hike is a done deal, debt service on all tuition-backed bonds will have risen to around $430M, nearly double what it was last year. Your tuition and fees make up the largest component of this debt service and the only component that UC has pledged to increase.

Increasing the collateral for bonds and paying more in debt service are clearly among the reasons why the Regents want to raise your tuition. But students would be more likely to resist if they knew this. By describing tuition increases as a simple substitute for state educational funds, UC avoids the question of how much goes for construction, rather than instruction. Don’t be fooled by the argument that UC is simply emulating the great private universities. The ones I know now use their endowment income to subsidize tuition for students who would otherwise need loans: UC, by contrast, now pledges its ability to drive you and your families deeper into debt so that it can increase its leverage on Wall Street. This is what it looks like to privatize a great public university.

Will you go along with this November’s 32% tuition increase, now that you know the money is being promised to Wall Street? It will happen unless you stop it.
The full version is here.