A UCLA coalition of students, faculty, community members, and unions has worked together to come up with a set of demands to present to the administration and the media for March 4th.
The first group of issues deals with fighting the privatization of the university:
- Reverse the 32% fee hike.
- Reduce class sizes.
- Stop the push to move classes online.
- End the Humanities restructuring project.
- Do not increase out-of-state enrollments
While some administrators say that they have to raise fees in order to maintain the quality of undergraduate education, we know that they system has enough money to reduce the number of large classes and increase the number of small, interactive seminars. Students and faculty members also do not want to move classes online, and we want to protect the humanities against any radical restructuring. Finally, Californians have built and paid for this great university, and we demand that the university accept more in-state students and not fewer.
Another set of demands concern what we see as the re-segregation of higher ed:
- Change the university admissions policy to increase Black, Latina/o, Native American, and underrepresented Asian student enrollment.
- Provide financial aid to undocumented immigrant students.
Although the university has begun the process of rethinking its admissions policies in order to accept more underrepresented students, the current move to raise fees and cap enrollments will result in a re-segregation of higher education. Moreover, as the university continues to accept undocumented students, it refuses to provide them with any financial aid, and now that fees are going up, these students will be harmed the most.
The next group of demands concerns the issues of budget transparency, shared governance, and democratic participation:
- Stop the formation of closed administrator- or faculty-only restructuring committees.
- Institute fair and equal student and worker representation on campus administrative governance bodies and committees.
- End policies and practices that violate students' and workers' right to free speech and assembly on campus.
- Create at least one free space for student organizing and gathering on campus.
Too many decisions are being made behind closed doors, and too many people are being shut out of important conversations. Students need a full voice in deciding the future of this university, and we reject the notion that only outside consultants or a small group of administrators can restructure our schools. We demand that the free speech of the students, faculty, and workers be respected and encouraged, and we request a space for free assembly.
The final set of demands counters the current practice of asking employees of the university to do much more, while they are being paid much less:
- Rescind the furloughs for workers who earn less than $40,000/year.
- Reverse the layoffs of lecturers
- Stop replacing graduate student instructors with readers
- Restore sections to large lecture classes.
- Restore Covel Writing tutors.
In an effort to save money, the administration has hurt the most vulnerable workers and has pursued several actions that undermine the quality of education at UCLA. The result of laying off lecturers and eliminating jobs for graduate students is that there are now fewer classes, and the classes that are still around are much larger and often no longer have labs or sections. We have also seen the elimination of writing tutors and the elimination of the general education seminar requirement. Now we are hearing about moving language classes online and in the summer. Someone has to stop this constant downsizing of educational quality, and UCLA Fights Back calls on the administration to stand up for high quality public education.
It is important to stress that when students and workers say they are fighting the privatization of the university, they are resisting six inter-related trends: 1) the shifting of costs from the public to the individual; thus while the state reduces funding, the individual students are being asked to make up for the differences through higher fees; 2) the university is being run more like a private profit-centered business than a not-for-profit public institution; in this structure, costs are socialized, while profits are privatized through the rise of an administrative class; 3) the move from a peer review system for public workers to a private model of free agent contract negotiations; 4) The move to individualized, online learning; 5) The student focus on earning individual grades over social learning and collaboration; and 6) the move to have private donors and private corporations fund the research mission.
On March 4th, UCLA will hold rallies at noon and 4:30 to demand that access, affordability, and quality remain a priority in public education. For a list of rallies and protests throughout California, click here.
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