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September 30 “Not a Town Hall” Workshop Minutes

Visual Minutes:

Visual minutes of this event were taken and are available:

– agenda

– Chris Newfield’s presentation

– concerns and interventions part 1

– concerns and interventions part 2

– concerns and interventions part 3

– next steps.

 

Participants:

Anant Sahai
Ananya Roy
Barbara Epstein
Ben Crow
Bob Meister
Brian Barsky
Catherine Cole
Charles Schwartz
Chris Newfield
Chris Rosen
Colleen Lye
Craig Reinarman
Debbie Gould
Deborah Blocker
Eric Hays
Gill Hart
Greg Levine
Jeff Fort
Jeffrey Skoller
Joshua Clover
Julie Guthman
Kathryn Abrams
Leslie Salzinger
Louise Fortmann
Megan Thomas
Naomi Janowitz
Noha Radwan
Raka Ray
Ronnie Lipschutz
Shannon Steen
Shelly Errington
Stanton Glantz
Susette Min

 

Written Notes:

Part I : Chris Newfield’s presentation of the history of faculty analysis of state funding and UC’s budget:

Historically, this realm has been owned and locked up by the administration on virtually every campus in the US by weight of tradition, but faculty efforts over the years have changed this paradigm. Charlie Schwartz, who was in attendance, was a pioneer in this: in 1991, during the first budget crisis, he learned how ordinary faculty could do this budget work. Also important in this effort, and present at the meeting, were Bob Meister, Stan Glantz and Catherine Cole.

Newfield explained that UC is now in a third cycle of cuts. The first cycle was seen as a complete anomaly by virtually everybody, including faculty. The second cycle of cuts was treated as an anomaly by UCOP but not by faculty who began to argue, in a systematic way, for the need to rebuild public funding for UC. Then this last crisis really mobilized everyone, but was so severe that responses have been uncoordinated. They haven’t really converged so that everyone is mobilized about the issue at the same time. The good news is, these protests have created a level of paranoia and a desire to explain what is going on. And these important issues are no longer being simply brushed aside at Regents’ meetings or in private conversations the way that they were six or seven years ago.

The immediate budget news is very bleak, but there is a silver lining. Essentially UCOP has negotiated a zero increase budget. There is no new money for reparation or addition for any kind of instruction program in the current budget. And this is contingent on Proposition 30 passing. If Prop 30 does not pass, and it is kind of touch and go right now, there will be a new $375 million cut. The other unpleasant feature of this is that Governor Brown is holding higher education hostage for the passage of Proposition 30. This beggar status is something that has happened to all public services over the past 30 years.

On a brighter note, since 2009 are the following: the Office of the President and Regents are now openly calling for increased public funding. The budget discussion has adopted the “core budget” concept that allows everyone to see past the rising overall budget to the decline in instructional funding. The press and public now see that Cal State and UC have been damaged by these budget cuts – the Ronald Reagan version had been that only waste fraud and abuse was trimmed; no muscle was cut by the low tax and cuts model – and that is now seen as false by a much larger part of California. The other piece of public awareness is the student debt crisis. The idea that privatization destroys educational attainment is sinking in.

Concretely what has changed at UCOP includes funding streams and rebenching. Funding streams has become this idea that every campus should keep all the non-state money it generates on that campus. So, medical campuses have no obligation now, or in the future, to spread that revenue around, and campuses that grow out of state enrollment won’t have to share the extra tuition money with other campuses.

Rebenching, is the idea that all students of any undergraduate category should get the same amount of state money regardless of what campus they attend – you shouldn’t get more money because you got into a more selective campus. In the past, tuition revenue and state funding were being distributed by secret formula. UCLA got $30k per student while Merced got $13k. It’s a pretty corrupt and archaic process, and there is a correlation between relative poverty in funding and the proportion of underrepresented students. So wealthier campuses had more white and Asian students and poorer campuses had more black and Latino students. When I showed the slide with the lower funding for campuses of color and lower graduation rates to a room full of students they asked why aren’t the Faculty Associations suing the Regents? But, we have only gotten to the facts on the table stage. The plan is to shift new money toward poorer students with a goal of leveling everyone up to UCLA. Redistribution has been taken off the table: existing money will continue to be distributed as it is now. But there is not likely to be new state money. Plus, a number of programs get off the top exclusions. So, practically speaking, not very much is going to change these distributive problems at all.

A last thing is enrollment management on the campuses. People are trying to put a hard floor under the enrollment of in state students so campuses won’t follow the money to out of state students. There is a threat of a 10 percent cap from the legislature.

So, the principals that the Academic Senate are espousing are good, but the concrete reality that is going to come out of that is very limited in the short term and maybe only slightly better in the long term.

From the state, Proposition 30 just keeps UC from getting further cut. And Proposition 38 doesn’t get us anything. What is still in negotiation with Brown is what the out years of the compact would bring to UC.  There may be something like a 3 or 4 percent increment in state funds which, even over five years, would not make up for the recent cuts. This means that resident tuition will have to double in the next three years. There won’t be an increase this year if Proposition 30 passes, because of the negotiated buy out, but after that tuition will have to climb.

We have zero restored funds for instruction or research. Graduate programs are in serious decline – it is simply not possible to fund them at the quality we had in the past with the current budget. Extramurally funded research, which is massively subsidized by state money, can no longer be subsidized at the basic level to allow it to operate. So this is the end of quality graduate programs and the science and engineering work that UC has billed itself on. Staff reorganizations are degrading the working condition of staff and the working conditions of faculty – UCB is on the front line of this. Pockets of poverty on campuses will continue to grow and intensify: we’ll have a kind of urban blight in our future. Protests are going to appear again, and produce crack downs.

How do we prioritize these issues? How do we respond? My thought is to try to combine some “red asphalt” horror stories coupled with something else that we as faculty are responsible for, which is saying what our goals are, what quality education is, and connecting that to a social justice understanding of what public higher education is for in the first place. People are doing a lot of good work in these areas, but in isolation. Pulling it together is a place for us.

Part II: Brainstorming (arranged thematically):

Fees increases by income level:

Need to clarify effect of rise of tuition by class. Tuition is now a confiscatory tax on everyone above the Blue and Gold plan cut off, resulting in a donut hole for families with an income between $75k and $120k per year. But it is a myth that lower income students don’t need to borrow money. Although their tuition is covered, they have no choice but to borrow to cover all the other expenses of being a student. The alternative to state financing is debt financing and students are becoming the victims of compound interest rather than beneficiaries of it.

Related Proposed Actions:

• When faculty met with Alberto Torrico, he said we needed to get students to visit legislators with the family budget in one hand and their tuition bill in the other, to show how incompatible the two are.

• We have done a calculation of how much it would cost to completely restore all public higher education in California to the level of quality cost and access it had in 2000. It would be $55 for the median household in California, and, even if Proposition 30 fails, it would only be $61. The point that several people made earlier was that the problem felt so big as to be unsolvable, inevitable. The message, I think, is that this is a solvable problem, and it isn’t even that expensive to fix it.

 

Consequences of fee increases on graduate students:

• We don’t take grad students as readers in undergrad courses but instead use undergraduate students so we don’t have to pay the tuition of the grad student readers.

• It has become more difficult for Grad Students to get money or to get jobs. So they spend more of their time looking for and applying for things. And faculty members spend more time writing letters on behalf of students hoping to get them some funding or employment.

• As tuition goes up, that increases the cost researchers pay to hire students. As indirect cost charges go up, that makes it more expensive for faculty trying to get grants. A Berkeley graduate student now costs more than a Stanford graduate student on a grant application. This is a systemwide problem.

• Now enforcing rules that were on the books for a long time but that don’t work if they might have a potential to gather money to the University out of the pockets of graduate students. For example, it used to be the case that graduate students were not required to be enrolled for quarters they were going elsewhere to do research. Now they are not allowed to do that.

 

Extramurally funded research is in trouble:

The wheels are coming off of extramurally funded programs, which are subsidized by unreimbursed indirect costs to the tune of 8 to 10 percent. NIH, for example, will no longer allow people to budget salary increase, COLA or inflation. So funds are diverted out of the “core” to pay for this gap, and it is a lot of money. The idea that we can fund the place by getting more grants is ever less true. This is a systemwide problem, perhaps felt most at UCSF which is heavily leveraged on extramural research funding and then clinical funding and to a lesser extent state funding has been used to make up for this unreimbursed indirect cost. And what’s happening now is because of Obamacare there are cost controls being imposed on the medical system, so that kind of subsidy is disappearing. Historically UCSF was run at a surplus, and UCOP was raking off some money to run the rest of the system, and that could be tolerated. But in next couple of years costs will exceed revenues, substantially. On one level the Chancellor seems to understand this and deal with it. But the old thinking is still there. The provost is still saying “we can grow our way out of this.” If you lose money on every unit, how can you make it up in volume?

 

Defense of student protesters:

• If there are going to be more demonstrations, how can we make sure free speech is respected on campuses and keep institutions from beating students.

• Faculty are judges jury and executioners in student conduct hearings. How are we handling civil rights on campus? UCB is trying to find a better model, but the new model may be worse than the old.

• The new student conduct code does two things contrary to the 6th amendment: it puts an administratively appointed “independent hearing officer” in charge, instead of faculty. And this officer has the right to deny students an open hearing and deny students council to question witnesses.

• Faculty participating in the training for the student conduct court, if they object to anything, no matter how benign and sensible, promptly get an e-mail saying their services were no longer needed.

• Defending student violence could give the right wing an opportunity, like Ronald Reagan did, to frame this as students doing bad things with faculty encouragement.

 

Direct Action:

• We need to try to figure out how faculty can work in solidarity with students to encourage and enable them to take direct action. We tend to have this paternalistic relationship to students. So much of the change that has happened has been led by students through direct action. And we can help them, not just the committee on safety. I have students who come all the time who are trying to talk about how to mobilize. Faculty become more involved when students are in motion.

• Faculty only become engaged when students take direct action and then debate is do we support direct action or not. More often than not faculty say their role is to keep classes going and not to encourage students to walk out. So faculty activism and this elite notion of what UCB is are related.

Related Proposed Actions:

• Sometimes there is backlash against direct action from people who don’t understand the issues. So it would be a good idea to prepare press releases to explain what they are doing. Some people think UC students are privileged in the first place, so what are they complaining about.

• Faculty should take the lead in doing a direct action. A direct action led by faculty would inspire students.  Direct action takes a lot of forms. Faculty at UCSC going to auction off seats in their classrooms as a media event with a press conference afterwards.

• It will be important to position ourselves to reinforce these demonstrations that are going to be coming up. I think we have the narratives. We know this is coming. Be ready with something to make coherent statements to the media and support the students in a coherent way.

 

Governor Brown:

• Our goal a year ago, CUCFA’s and FOG and SAVE and etc, was to create protests that would attract the attention of the press and that would mobilize particularly Democrats in legislature to put pressure on the Governor. That strategy succeeded: the legislature vetoed the compact elements out of the budget. But then Jerry Brown line item vetoed everything we got from the legislature. We have been silent about this because we want Proposition 30 to pass, but Jerry Brown is our enemy. We have been successful as an advocacy movement but privatization is now happening – we can’t just oppose privatization but must now resist it on the ground. And that means becoming more adversarial against campus administrations. How adversarial do we have the stomach to be?

• How much room to maneuver do our adversaries really have? UCOP, Brown, etc are constrained by, for example, the economic situation. This will determine our strategy. It is an aggressive falsehood to think we understand the problem better and just need to explain it better.

• The situation has been allowed to become constrained. In the “Futures Report” we made the point that CA has the wealth to solve these problems: if we were simply collecting the same fraction of wealth as taxes as we did 20 years ago, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. We simply accept the realities the right has constructed. One of the things the Occupy movement started was to point that out. I was reading if the additional wealth generated since the rebound of the stock market had been uniformly distributed across the country that would have been $70k per family. Wealth has become so ridiculously concentrated it is actually contributing to these problems. It is the political leadership’s job – leaders at UC as well as Republican and Democrat political leaders – to change that. We have been letting them get off the hook to not address that.

• The Republicans started in the 1960s and have framed things incredibly successfully. But they are wrong. Need to move the pendulum in the other direction.

• A lot of people think if Proposition 30 passes we don’t have anything to complain about anymore.

Related Proposed Actions:

• The reason Reagan attacked public university is not because we cost so much, it is because he politically disagreed with the kind of ideas that were being voiced there. I think we need to talk publicly about that and own it. It is important to have a place for dissent in this state.

• I don’t think we should underestimate the extent that we have been paralyzed by prop 30 this fall. It is either going to pass or not. There will be a Regents’ meeting on Nov. 13 and 14 and actions, occupations on those days. The alternative to public funding is “let Wall Street pay” but the protesters haven’t worked out that alternative. We need a message that is independent of whether proposition 30 passes. If it passes Brown will run to his right. And if it doesn’t pass he has said the state gets what it deserves.  It is important for us to develop a narrative about Jerry Brown going forward. About the relationship between Jerry Brown and Proposition 13. About how he was a worse Governor than Ronald Reagan before and how he is a worse Governor than Arnold Schwarzenegger now. About how the compact that they will consider starting on November 13 is actually an abandonment of the Master Plan because it will detach state funding from any expectation that UC admit a certain number of Californians and put campuses in competition to admit non-resident students, whose revenues will not be shared by the UC system as a way to support the campuses that admit a larger proportion of minority students from the state.

 

The Regents:

• The Regents have a strategy to get tuition increases by making it always appear the state is forcing them to do it. When the Regents and administration tell students to take the matter of higher tuition to the State, doing so masks the Regents’ role, their collusion with state government officials. We should back away from calls to demonstrate in Sacramento.

• We do have to put pressure on the Governor because he has the power, but we also have to stand up and say the Regents are a failure. In what other corporate entity which has lost 70 percent of its revenue would the board of directors not all have been fired? The Regents have been incompetent stewards of the institution they are supposed to be protecting. Replace them with people who will do the job.

Related Proposed Actions:

• We don’t want to undercut the Regents and in the process undercut the University of California. Figuring out a way to talk about the irresponsibility of the Regents without saying the whole system is corrupt. Need to talk about the separation between them and the educational structure.

 

The Academic Senate:

• The internal structures of change seem inadequate to the problem. Our numbers are small and the Academic Senate system swallows things up and doesn’t make things happen.

• We have the usual problem with the Senate being cozy with administration. Even when they start out being on the side of faculty, it is in the structure of the Senate that they become convinced that cooperating with the administration will bring greater results than not.

• Watching the Senate, how things did not go the way faculty voted. One example is our resolution in 2009 that asked for a new committee of the Senate to be formed to look into the issue of intercollegiate athletics. It has never been done.

• There is a problem in motivating the Academic Senate, and when you manage to get them to take a stand then the administration does an end run around the Senate.

Related Proposed Actions:

• A simple rhetorical change would do the trick. Instead of saying, whenever the administration asks you “do you approve this”  “well yes but it would be better if…” they should say “no, unless” Make approval conditional and then publicize the fact that the university did some despite Senate objections. How do we get there: we have Faculty Associations that can be a vehicle for holding members of the Senate accountable to the faculty rather than to the administrations. Faculty Associations can run as a political party slates for the Committee on Committees and hold the members of Senate committees appointed under those slates to saying “no unless” instead of “yes but.” And finally, as far as the administration is concerned, we tend to adopt toward the administration what psychoanalysts call a split view. We are paranoid so they are either demonized or idealized. Either we are dealing with a good administrator or a bad administrator. We have to develop a more nuanced vocabulary for talking about our administrators as hostages, as collaborators, as people we can criticize in a way that is not entirely unsympathetic but nevertheless as being in a bad situation and needing our support rather than as instrumentalities of policies in which they are inviting us to collude and collaborate. If we do not develop a more nuanced vocabulary for dealing with our administrators we will never develop an effective strategy.

 

Muckraking:

• I wonder if we can shift from arguing to exposure. Muckraking. It is not working making the reasoned argument, thinking that rational people will come around to our reasonable views. What we have seen the last couple of years are moments of real interest happen when something scandalous occurs, I’m thinking of the Edley driven pension spiking that produced more comments on a UC article than I’ve seen before. It died out because there wasn’t any kind of follow-up in producing other stories about pension spiking coming from very elite subgroups within the faculty at UC often not actually working on campuses. People in this room have a lot of information that we don’t actually share with each other: things that happen in our departments or in Senate hearings. We should transfer that information back and forth so as to develop a database around a select set of issues that might get public play. A more recent example is the privation of the UCLA management school while that privatization was actually going to be subsidized by public money.

Related information:

• Deans are autonomous – our Dean is not filling FTE and not doing FA’s and then he can occupy this money to use for his purposes which are often not in the public interest. It is hard to know how to address this since higher administrators have a policy that they must support their Deans.

• UCB’s library has dropped from #3 to #8. They’ve laid off 25% of staff, and cut the budget $5 million. At the same time, the Chancellor’s discretionary fund is putting $10 million in athletics.

• To boost ranking as a research institution, UCSC is creating and developing PhD programs even when there are not resources. They are admitting PhD students while there is no funding for PhD students, they can’t do field work, and there are no TA-ships. That puts these PhD students at a disadvantage to other PhD students.

• Focused so much on rankings, excellent programs that are interdisciplinary and innovative and attracting students are being cut because they but can’t be used for comparison in the rankings.

• Then there is the secrecy of the hiring process. UCB is hiring a new Chancellor. We increasingly get professional administrators who are not beholden to faculty and students and staff; who haven’t made presentations to those groups and don’t have to; who are increasingly beholden to one or two guys, and in this case that would be Yudof. Playing out not only at the level of Chancellor, but ending up with many highly paid administrators with huge scopes of power.

• Faculty need to realize that upper level administrators can be removed for something and can not be removed for others. There was national, international, popular movement to get rid of Chancellor Katehi, and it meant nothing. What she has done is thrown every administrator below her under the wheels of the bus. Untouchable to internal and external pressure.

• “Shared services” is making faculty become clerical workers and breaks the bonds between faculty and staff. This is a systemwide problem, but UCB is at the vanguard.

• Online education, selling UC to save it, which will be catastrophic.

 

Communication:

• We need to know what each other is doing.

• We need more information moving back and forth.

Related Proposed Actions:

Every meeting I go to people say we need to share information. There are three good platforms to do it : Chris’s blog is wonderful. CUCFA has their website and keepcaliforniaspromise.org. If people send it to Eric we will put it on one of the websites. We don’t have the time to chase everybody, but if you send it we will put it up.

 

Outreach:

• UC quality needs to be defined.

• The social return from higher education has been repressed. It is important to focus on social return rather than just individual return.

• What it means to create citizens. We need clarity internally that citizenship requires certain kinds of education that aren’t always practical. We need internally to do a lot more talking about how we communicate the creation of knowledge in ways that seem esoteric and how that relates to the education of students broadly here. A lot of research that doesn’t seem important is important.

• Entrepreneurship is being rewarded. So entrepreneurial forms of research, chasing big money – the intellectual direction that is being foisted on faculty for money. 2nd, the cost cutting measures: shared services. There is this bonus you can get, but the requirements now so onerous that no one can do it any more.

• We should work with students and alums. Next time there is a ballot initiative to raise taxes we could work with them, especially on our campuses. Raise consciousness with parents and alums.

• This is really much bigger than a UC fight.

• There are a lot of myths and falsehoods about UC that people have, regarding funding. Like the belief that if UC just paid administrators and coaches less that would solve the problem. Or, isn’t the problem that UC is taking so many illegal immigrants in.

• People in California have different baselines, graduated at different times. If you had 1991’s share of the state GDP relative to the university today, this is what we could have. If it were 1960 this is what it would be. This is what it would be with 2000 money.  Then make deltas from there. The financial aid model is different than it was in 1960.

• How these things can be conveyed. CUCFA has been great about these things that have been under the table eliminated by the Governor. How do you put pressure on. How could we collectively make something that would go viral. I have two ideas: using the kind of thing David Harvey uses – drawings and little videos and pictures; second, explain the complexity of it all on the model of Annie Leonard’s “The Story of Stuff,” where she says in a complex system the great thing is you have so many points for intervention. This would be a big undertaking, but I think we do need some way beside press releases and web sites and text in order to reach the public.

Related Proposed Actions:

• The university has its lobbying firms and its PR flacks and they are always telling us how they are working on our behalf when they really aren’t. And I was wondering if we shouldn’t go the retail route and find a PR firm that could launch an adversarial campaign against the University. How many UC graduates are there in this state after all, and they are probably people who vote.

• I really like the idea of bringing in the PR expertise. We are communicators, we are not necessarily good communicators to the public. We are actually horrible at it. I also like the idea of being proactive, being poised for certain dates. Need to be proactive about our message about what is the public good in the 21st century.

• Personal contacts. Working with k-12 education. Go to PTA meetings and talk to parents about the budget crisis.

 

Privatization:

• We make a mistake to think there is only privatization or state funding. The state mechanism is changing. We need to recognize there are other possibilities. Thinking everything but state funding is bad puts us on a mistaken adversarial battle only with the state. I think the issue, as the president of Purdue has suggested, is partly one of building new relationships between different part of the university and different parts of society. Building organic relationships. The idea we can go back to the Master Plan assumption of the state works for everybody’s government and funds everything that is needed is mistaken. We no longer have that sort of agreement in society. In the long term we need to rebuild relationships and address challenges of different parts of society and on that basis build up our legitimacy.

 

Defining faculty:

• Who is the we that is the political actor here. One issue that came up today is that the sciences are being hit hard in a way that humanists aren’t aware. Should there be more outreach to science faculty.

• As faculty we are not a homogenous body with a homogenous experience of neoliberalism and we are active participants in producing the privatized university. We have a highly differentiated landscape of departments, salary scales, workloads. Those all surface in increasingly individualized transactions between faculty and chairs with 75% of faculty now paid off scale. Political economy of this body that we call the faculty that complicates our struggle and our vision of social justice

• The culture of elitism, the way in which Berkeley sees itself not as a public school but in relation to elite private universities. So accepting grad students, hiring faculty, shaping curriculum, is always in relation to the ivy leagues and that limits a sense of a need to become involved; how faculty seem themselves in relation to the student movement.

• The shift to contingent faculty, teachers and researchers pitched against each other and students caught in the middle.

Related Proposed Actions:

• What is innovative about this group is it is multi-campus.

• It really is a good idea to bring faculty from different campuses together, maybe not every week, maybe once a month. I wonder if it is also good to form committees: direct action committee, media committee. Outreach to other higher education, maybe k-12.

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