Op-Ed: As a UC professor, I support the strikers. Our schools shouldn’t have let it come to this.
What began as a peaceful march outside the University of California, Davis, is now the subject of a lawsuit. The union that represents my student peers had to settle with the university before coming to an agreement on a new contract. The settlement is fair and reasonable, but the university doesn’t support it. The university, in fact, is suing the union for daring to resist its tyranny.
This is the third strike by my peers at UC Davis in less than a year. In February 2018, the same thing happened at UC Berkeley. And in October 2018, my peers and I held a brief strike to demand higher wages and better working conditions. When the strike was called off, we tried again.
We won again, and so did the other students. But this time, UC Davis is no longer the only source of trouble on our campus.
On the morning of November 6, the university fired the chief academic grievance officer, a position that gave the university the sole authority to set fees for student services. It also suspended his authority to handle internal complaints and grievances filed under Title II of the California Educational Code.
At the same time, the governor signed SB 962, which will force the university to eliminate its fee waiver program and reduce its student body by 10 percent. The school’s budget, which has grown faster than inflation and will grow even harder with the elimination of the waiver program, will be cut by millions. And some students who will be unable to afford UC’s campus fees will be forced to seek higher education elsewhere.
In other words, all of this is now at stake.
Yet UC Davis cannot be a leader in this fight. It is a government entity. The university cannot defend itself. It must rely on the government it serves to do the right thing. And with SB 962’s passage, the state has joined the union in its mission to crush all opposition.
No wonder so many UC students feel that they are trapped.
My peers and I have been fighting for better salaries and working conditions for decades. And we are not asking for much.
This time, our demands are simple. We want our tuition, fees, and rent to be paid. We want our living wage to double. We