Monday, November 15, 2010

Statement from Berkeley Law Organizing Committee

From the email, an open letter to Boalt law school Dean Christopher Edley:
No More Futile Discussion With Administrators. Action. Disruption. Reclamation.

Dear Dean Edley,

We sincerely hope that in the moments leading up to tomorrow's UC Regents meeting, you took time to pause and consider the real human impact of the Law School's privatization program. Before we came to Boalt, we considered ourselves to be human beings and were attracted to this school in our capacity as such. Now we know that everything we were told about Boalt is an empty promise and that we are in fact nothing more than biological collateral for federal loan dollars being spilled into ill-conceived expansion projects that have little to do with the quality of our or anyone else's education.

As you write to invite us to another Student Town Hall, we submit that our participation within this institution is now, just as it has been, barely a courteous formality. The one hour meeting offered by the law-school administration, we are told, provides “an opportunity for the community to discuss the overall state of the law school as well as student fees.” At least you are honest enough to concede that nothing we say at the Town Hall will have any effect on how the law school is actually run.

There is nothing to ‘discuss’. If privatization is a certainty, then so is insurmountable student debt, the evisceration of workers’ rights, the subordination of human need to the logic of the market. This is a future we will not accept. Privatization in an economy with rapidly decreasing real wages and insurmountable loan debt is guaranteed student death. We refuse to die. Since the administration has already implemented its project of privatization, our only choice is to halt its progress and work to destroy the process itself. So on November 16 and 17, 2010 we will.

We do appreciate that you are taking the time to tell us ‘how it has to be.’ Yes, we are told, fees have to go up, workers are going to be laid off, and financial aid, a full 50% of it in most cases, must be reduced to fund Capital Projects, the bloated salaries of the rapidly-expanding administrative class, and all the other expenses associated with transforming public education into a branded commodity. Privatization, you never forget to tell us, is not a choice but a certainty.

As you pressure the Regents to approve ever more draconian wealth-extraction policies to fund pet capital projects, please remember that the party will not last forever and that the financial numbers along with public policy are most assuredly going to catch up with public university administrators everywhere. While we know that your lofty salary will permit you to retire well before you have to face any real accountability, our only hope is that your legacy reflects as much as you deserve. We will be sure to think of Boalt every time we make a monthly student loan payment on a public interest salary that we fully expect will only decrease in real terms over the coming decades. For a little background on why we think what we do, please consider two things: 1) that the LRAP program produces the highest benefits for those with the least amount of debt (thus those with the most means) and is increasingly relying on speculative federal subsidies despite gargantuan increases in law school revenue, and 2) this informative letter by Prof. Bob Meister:

Regardless, our fates as current students are sealed and no platitudes about a “public mission” or “public interest” will dissolve the ridiculous debt that the vast majority of us will labor under for the next 25 years. When state capitalism collapses, we would dance on the ashes of this inane privatization project, but there is every indication that we will be taken down along with the rest.

Students! Stop the fee increases by shutting down the administration and the Regents! Enough is enough! We will see you at California Hall -- Tuesday, 6:30AM; & Noon Rally. We will see you at the Regents’ meeting; Wednesday 8:00AM, UCSF Mission Bay Campus.

Berkeley Law Organizing Committee (BLOC)

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