Fee Hikes Necessary to Maintain UC Prestige

Dear Editor,

I attended the Sept. 16 UC Board of Regents meeting as a neutral bystander. As I said then in my public comments, and privately to anyone who would listen, blindly opposing fee hikes is irresponsible and counterproductive.

I am as opposed in principle to fee hikes as anyone. However, I fear that most students, the UC Student Association and perhaps the Graduate Student Association fail to grasp just how dire a financial crisis the university faces. Money must come from somewhere, and without new revenues to address the budget gap, our university will slowly crumble until it is unrecognizable.

There are only two possible long-term answers: renewing the state funding that is consistent with the UC master plan, or drastically restructuring how the UC system is funded. In the short term, there are far too many funding shortfalls and far too few opportunities for savings for a freeze in fee hikes to be even remotely practical.

The protests and comments at the Sept. 16 UC Regents meeting were painful to watch; the regents were blamed at every turn for a crisis foisted upon them by the legislature, the voters and California’s terribly broken political system. The protestors at the meeting drew attention away from the real causes of fee hikes at a time when it is more critical than ever that these issues be addressed deliberately and rationally. Emotional protests against the regents simply make the students look childish and hopelessly naive.

I imagine I’ll get a lot of flack for being a curmudgeon on these issues. I am a student, and thus I am not insensitive to student concerns. However, I was a Californian long before I became a UC student. California has built the finest system of public higher education the world has ever seen. It is no small part of what makes California great, and it is being threatened with a slide into mediocrity that will come faster than most people realize.

I hope that any protests GSA involves itself in will be coherent, thought-out and have a goal of creating thoughtful discourse about the real issues rather than spouting the poisonous invective I heard in September.

— Jonathan J. Sapan
Graduate Student
Jacobs School of Engineering

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