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by Stewart A. Alexander
Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009 at 9:50 PM
As democratic socialists, Socialist Party USA stands in solidarity with the student protests. We encourage all students, especially those at publicly-funded universities, to draw inspiration from the UC protests. Democratic socialism advances our just demands that everything that make us human be guaranteed. Food, employment, healthcare, housing and education are our social rights. Now is the time to demand them.
by: Stewart A. Alexander, SPUSA- California
Billy Wharton, SPUSA National Co-Chair
The Socialist Party USA stands in solidarity with the University of California (UC) student protesters. Higher education should not be treated as a commodity, whose price is determined by supply and demand. Receiving an education is a social right. Insuring a free, quality and open national higher education system is far more important than any war or new weapon or bank bailouts. An educated population makes for a more democratic society. Restricting access to the UC system through exorbitant tuition is an attack on democracy itself.
Tens of thousands of students in the UC system have experienced a political awakening. Instead of giving the support necessary for students to excel, the UC Board of Regents is attempting to impose a 32% increase in tuition. Suddenly, the UC system has been transformed from a place of scientific discovery and intellectual inquiry into a site for politicians to dump California’s enormous budget deficit. Thousands of students throughout the university system have responded by organizing demonstrations and building occupations. Arrests and police repression have not stopped the movement. It continues to grow in numbers and courage daily in defense of the right to receive an education.
This year’s proposed 32% increase is not an isolated instance. Since 1999, tuitions at the 10 UC campuses have tripled. The cost for one year of tuition would now be ,300. This does not include expenses for text books, housing and food. Many students believe the tuition hikes will force them to drop out or attend community colleges. This, coupled with the deep economic recession demonstrates that a university education is increasingly becoming a distant thought for many working families.
The student protests have also been given the flavor of labor demonstrations, as students, adjuncts and full-time faculty members join the mobilizations. This has led to the opening of classes to the entire community through outdoor lectures and discussion sessions, and serious critiques of the university’s labor practices especially when it comes to the working conditions of adjuncts. Grad students have adopted the undergraduate demand to stop the tuition hikes and have added demands for fair labor practices and an end to the privatization of the university.
Socialist Party USA member and Peace and Freedom Party candidate for California Governor, Stewart Alexander, has linked the problems in California to the policies of the Democrats and Republicans. “The leaders of the two corporate parties,” he writes, “have chosen to protect the interest of big capital over students’ futures.” Indeed, what is so brilliant about the UC protests is their complete unwillingness to accept what has been packaged as a “reasonable” “we all have to make sacrifices” policy. Let the rich pay for the budget crisis they created.
As democratic socialists, we stand in solidarity with the student protests. We encourage all students, especially those at publicly-funded universities, to draw inspiration from the UC protests. Democratic socialism advances our just demands that everything that make us human be guaranteed. Food, employment, healthcare, housing and education are our social rights. Now is the time to demand them.
No to the UC Tuition Hikes!
Quality, free and open higher education for all!
Education is our right!
Socialist Party USA
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