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Access or Exclusion…UC and The Sep. 24 Walkout

Written By: aaminahm on September 16, 2009 No Comment

September 24 marks the date of the UC walkout to protest the State’s fiscal crisis and it’s subsequent impact on UC Faculty, Staff, and Students. In theory I am in support of walk outs because of my passion for social change.  However, my questions about this particular walk out are many. To begin with, how is it that state funded schools can protest the loss of state funding, (and therefore access) when they are at once exclusive and inaccessible? My daughter is a high school senior and she and I reviewed the African American enrollment of the  UCs. On average it is about 3-4% (UC Riverside has the highest at about 8%). According to the US Census Bureau 8.5% of the State is African American. Therefore, besides Riverside the UCs don’t have adequate representation of African Americans. I feel this everyday on campus at CAL. As I look around I don’t see, and hear enough of the voices that a State funded institution should host.  Their is great need to provide access to students of color, to the lower middle class and to the working poor.  Where are the voices of the marginalized groups? Is the UC systematizing disenfranchisement? Should we fight against privatization of the UCs, or is public institution a misnomer?

According to Dean Pearson of the Graduate School of Education, in a recent email ” The public needs to understand that cuts to the University affect our service to the State throughout the University. Here at Berkeley, we can’t produce the bulk of the teachers for our schools; that’s the job of CSU in the master plan. But we can add value to the intellectual fiber and pedagogical portfolios of our public school teaching staffs by preparing this small cadre of influential professionals.”  Should the state funded schools responsibility be to produce small cadres of influential professionals? Is the goal the elitism of the Ivy league? Berkeley has a reputation for social justice. Isn’t it time we put our money where our reputation is? Why are the CSUs relegated to the grunt work? Finally, I ask, how can we wage a protest for accessibility when it appears the goal is to continue to exclude?

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