Nice Letter. Now How About That March?

    UC President Mark G. Yudof is on your side.

    He hates having to raise student fees and he’s angry at the state Legislature for making him do so. He even wants you to march on Sacramento.

    Facing packs of ticked-off students, lecture halls filled with disgruntled facultymembers and hordes of angrier-than-usual union workers, Yudof drafted an impromptu letter of defense last week and sent it off to the university’s student newspapers and A.S. councilmembers.

    His message: We’re all in this together. His tone: apologetic as hell.

    In 723 words, Yudof paints himself as the university’s valiant yet misunderstood leader, a president forced to sacrifice his popularity — and the affordability of a UC education — in a desperate attempt to save the university he loves.

    It’s a new tone for Yudof and an unexpected move for a president who has spent the majority of his term holed up in his Oakland office, shrugging off criticism behind a veil of ambiguous financial aid reforms.

    Now he’s addressing the students directly, adopting a casual, conciliatory voice meant to dispel the notion that our president — with his $800,000 annual compensation package — is suffering right along with the rest of us.

    But if a letter to the editor is all he can come up with, it’s going to be a long time before all those jaded picket line protestors ditch their “Layoff Yudof” chants and get behind their president.

    At this point, most students don’t even know what Yudof looks like. If he’s serious about gaining our support — about reaching out to us and building the “mighty force” of a systemwide coalition that he claims to envision — he’s going to have to redouble his efforts. He’s going to have to show his face once in a while and prove that his efforts to lobby state lawmakers are genuine.

    Calling for a march on the state capital is one thing; leading that march is something else entirely.

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