Why I don’t support the UC faculty walkout

I sent this letter to some colleagues who are supporting the proposed UC faculty walkout on September 24th.

I want to thank you and the others who are spending their time and energy trying to figure out how to deal with challenges of the UC budget. I understand the appeal and value of a collective expression of disgust from the UC faculty, staff and students. But as loathsome as I find the budget cuts and as concerned as I am about the future of the UC system, the framing of this issue as being a battle between UC faculty and Yudof/UCOP is so misplaced and wildly counterproductive that there is no way I can support it.

While I am far from agreeing with everything Yudof has done, or the way he has done it, the clear culprit here is declining public financial support for the UC system. One of the main reasons we keep on absorbing these cuts – and why many have become permanent – is the sense amongst many that the University is rich, and doesn’t need this money. So the implication from SAVE and others that somehow the furloughs and other cuts were discretionary actions taken by UCOP is not only absurd, but plays right into the hands of people who want to cut the budgets even more.

I agree that a major part of the problem is that people on the outside of UC don’t realize how devastating these cuts are to the system, and how they threaten our role as the premier public institution in the nation. We should be doing everything in our powers to educate the public, and our students, about these issues.

Unfortunately, whether intentional or not, the walkout and assocaited actions have become a platform for firing invectives at Yudof or rallying for faculty self-governance – which, while important, is not the most important thing right now. It makes us seem shrill and self-serving, and does not advance what should be our main objective – directing a positive appeal to the taxpayers of California to renew their support for UC.

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