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Thursday, July 30, 2020

Thursday, July 30, 2020

by Amie Campos, PhD Candidate, History 

Simeon Man, Associate Professor, History 

Rihan Yeh, Associate Professor, Anthropology 

On the morning of June 15th, approximately 200 Housing, Dining, and Hospitality workers at UC San Diego were given notices of “temporary layoffs.” Those who were at work that day were instructed by management to meet at a cafeteria, with a promise of free lunch. Citing a 90% drop in students on campus, management told the majority-Spanish-speaking workforce - via a management-appointed translator - that they would be laid off for the rest of the summer. They were handed some information, including a sheet on how to apply for unemployment, and dismissed with written assurances that they would be returned to their jobs in early September. Lunch, unsurprisingly, was never served.

This move came just two weeks after Chancellor Pradeep Khosla’s to the university community denouncing the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery — a message that included a promise of “doing what can be done within our institution to make sure everyone feels that they belong and that they matter.” This juxtaposition reveals the unwillingness of the university to put its money where its mouth is. It has chosen a path that leaves 200 workers and their families, from low-income communities of color disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, without income for at least 2 months.

In a public statement regarding this mass firing, the university characterized the layoffs as inevitable. We should not be misled into accepting this austerity narrative. AFSCME, the union representing the majority of the affected workers, released its research findings based on publicly-available UC financial statements on May 18th. This report showed that the UC system can leverage its vast resources and stellar credit standing to lead California’s economic recovery by maintaining employment for its 227,000 workers rather than pursuing cuts. UCOP has not refuted AFSCME’s claims about usable reserves. Further undermining the austerity narrative,

the university advertised temporary positions in dining services following the layoffs. At the May 20 Regents meeting on “Projected COVID-19 Impact on 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 Revenue,” UC’s Chief Financial Officer Paul Jenny also presented a variety of options for weathering the COVID-19 financial storm, including dipping into the endowment’s unrestricted funds and applying for low-interest federal loans through the CARES Act at different campuses.

Without evidence that the University will face financial hardship if it does not enact layoffs, UCSD affiliates should not accept the administration’s chosen course. Dining service workers have an average annual salary of $41,000 -- well below San Diego County’s Area Median Income (AMI). While significant for workers, a two-month layoff has a negligible effect on UCSD’s overall budget. Chancellor Khosla, whose gross salary in 2018 was $477,384, has taken just a 10% pay cut, and the University continues to employ over 600 people whose regular payexceeds $200,000.

UCSD’s treatment of its workers also exposes the dangerous assumptions and inequities embedded in its much-publicized “Return to Learn” program. The majority of laid-off workers have been working on campus on rotating shifts throughout the pandemic, serving students who could not leave and staff who could not work from home. Yet since the university began its ambitious pilot plan in May to test all students on campus prior to the official start of “Return to Learn” in the fall quarter, UCSD has not offered its workers ample opportunities for free testing, nor has it provided them with adequate PPE or regular COVID-related training. Many workers have had to take precautionary measures themselves, in the absence of clear protocols or guidelines from supervisors, and have for months been worried about being exposed to the virus on campus and bringing it home to their families. The university’s demonstrated disregard for the health and well-being of its essential workers underscores the view that they are disposable and not part of the “campus community” deemed worthy of protection. This casts further doubt that the university will ensure the safety of other campus workers including students, and faculty as the “Return to Learn” program ramps up.

The effects of these decisions will reinforce existing racial and gender inequalities at UCSD and fly in the face of ongoing organizing by students, faculty, and staff, who demand that administrators address the institution’s own anti-Black, anti-Latinx, and anti-Indigenous realities. A 15-page list of demands issued by the Black Student Union (BSU) on June 22nd, which objects to these layoffs and calls for the defunding of the campus police, is one important example. Another is an op-ed published on July 4th by United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS Local 94) titled “We Will Not ‘Return to Earn.’”

We reject the University’s plan to wait until early September to return laid-off workers to campus when they will have to scramble to meet the needs of arriving students. We view the plan as part of a flimsy and unethical strategy of UCSD administration hedging its bets to collect housing deposits from students who are promised a safe campus opening in the fall despite rapidly rising infection rates, while keeping labor costs down and reneging on its rehiring promise in the event that “Return to Learn” is unfeasible.

UCSD must reverse these layoffs, especially given Covid-19's trajectory and disproportionate impact on communities of color in San Diego. The close to 200 Housing and Dining workers and their families are invaluable members of the campus community and should be treated as such. UCSD is a major employer in the San Diego region that holds the livelihoods of many people in its hands. As a research institution, medical center, and major hospital, UCSD depends on labor provided by communities in San Diego, including low-income communities that have served as sites of clinical training, research, and experimentation for UCSD researchers. Reinstating these workers will be a small step in repairing the extractive relationships on which UCSD’s reputation as one of the nation’s top research institutions depend.

How you can support HDH workers: We call on the university to reverse the layoffs. In the meantime, donations can be made to UCSD Mutual Aid’s gofundme page in order to support workers facing financial difficulties. Chancellor Khosla’s office can be reached at 858-534-3135.

A Spanish language version of this piece is here

UCSD North Campus: Photo Credit  Erik Jepsen, Triton May 16, 2019


Monday, July 6, 2020

Monday, July 6, 2020
California is a state with nearly 40 million people (bigger than Canada and Poland, smaller than Algeria and Spain). It had a 2019 Gross State Product of around $3.2 trillion (bigger than India, Great Britain and France, smaller than Germany and Japan).  It has ten research universities with the letters "UC" in front of their place names. Each of those ten universities has a president, though the ten call this president a "chancellor."   Tomorrow, July 7th, the UC Board of Regents will announce their selection for UC president, a kind of president of presidents.  What functions might this new person perform  to avoid being superfluous, or worse, a conduit of oligarchic state policy into the university?

A few come to mind, moving from specific to general. The new president should:

1. Get separate state and federal funding for full Covid-19 mitigation. After two decades of austerity budgets, March-June 2020 losses of  $1.8 billion, and a likely 7 percent cut from the state legislature for 2020-21 (p 43), UC doesn't have the money to open campuses safely. Continuous testing alone could cost around $1 billion a year.  The many other needed changes  would pile costs on top of that.  UC campuses may eventually decide to put fall term (almost) entirely online (they will need to comply with today's ICE rule that international students in all-online programs cannot stay in the United States).  But they shouldn't have the program decision forced by sheer lack of funds for testing, tracing, isolating, and temporary facilities.  The new president will need to seek special Covid-19 funding for at least the two-year period 2020-22.

2. Undo top-down governance.  President Richard Atkinson (1995-2003) was not an organizational democrat, but UCOP rule-giving used to be balanced by new-program funding and distinctive UCOP expertise.  The latter was long ago duplicated on the campuses, and UCOP no longer supports growth or quality upgrades: the underdeveloped Merced campus is Exhibit A, the Riverside campus's medical facility is Exhibit B . . . UCOP never asks the state for enough money to cover the actual costs of combining full access with high quality. Several years of underfunded enrollment increases--the "surge" that President Napolitano negotiated with Jerry Brown and state government--caused serious damage to education on the campuses, but this news, which I and others still regularly try to convey in meetings with UCOP officials, has yet to be received.  Although they are removed from the everyday struggles of the campuses, UCOP monopolizes the University's public image as well as its governmental and financial policy.  Campuses spend quite a bit of time conveying basic information up the chain, with apparently limited success.  The next president will need to restore campus confidence in UCOP's ability to formulate policy that reflects campus needs, rather than trim campuses to fit state policy.

3. Fix the broken funding model.  In the coming years, the University of California needs to do a lot of things: increase racial diversity and equality of outcomes, expand STEM research, fully support social and cultural research, improve undergraduate learning, increase doctoral student pay to relieve rent burden, rebuild a deteriorating physical plant, reverse the adjuncting drift, and close employee pay gaps.  But UC doesn't have the money to do these things. The reason is that the half-privatized funding model doesn't work, and never did.  The only way to make up for low state funding is with massive, unacceptable tuition increases.  The only way to freeze or cut tuition is to increase public funding.  I've written volumes about this, with abundant data, but proof lies not only in the financial critique of privatization but in the policy of the privatizers themselves. The "compact" with UC and CSU devised by Arnold Schwarzenegger and his first finance director, Donna Arduin, cut state funding increases to 2-3 percent per year. But even they knew that neither UC nor CSU could live on that, so the compact required tuition increases of 7-10 percent per year.  Those folks didn't care about UC greatness, but they understood that if they held state funding growth to inflation then UC would need in-state tuition of around $20,000 by this year to keep the place afloat. Today, UC gets about 40 percent per student of its 2001-02 funding, had that kept up with enrollment and state income growth. The next president needs to rebuild the public funding model, not do extend and pretend with the current semi-privatized hybrid. This person will also need to explain that politicians who underfund  public universities are politicians who advance systemic racism.

4. Redefine university education around nonmonetary goals.  A college degree should lead to employment at good wages, but this is the only thing college presidents and politicians have been selling lately.   Economists and policymakers also fixatee on college's impact on upward mobility, which is another version of wage gains.  There are two problems with this.  First, private monetary effects are only a portion of higher ed's total effects, which are mostly social or nonmonetary or both. (Nonmonetary benefits include analytical skill, research findings, and dozens of others.)  So colleges hide most of their benefits behind a rhetorical invisibility cloak, and speak only of money all the time.  Second, the money payoff has never been more uncertain in the postwar era than it is today.  Net monetary gains have become harder and riskier as the cost of a degree goes up and automation and the gig economy chew into the white-collar vocations that seemed impregnable as recently as the 1990s.  Recall Robert Reich's "symbolic-analysts" inheriting the earth, then read Scott Timberg for a good overview of the 2010s in his book subtitled "the killing of the creative class."
The current economy weakens higher ed's financial arguments, but the next president should see this as an opportunity to take the PR eggs out of a shrinking basket, and educate everyone on the non-monetary and social benefits of universities.  The latter are more exciting and gratifying than wages alone, but more to the point, they are more durable in our post-knowledge economy in which universities are building a post-middle class.

Overall, I'm perhaps most sad about how hard it has been for UC folks to feel excited about and confident in the university's future.  Recent presidents have modeled a diminished realism, which has meant accepting less and learning the austerity mindset.  This is obviously at odds with the state and country's self-image as heroic leaders of technological and social progress, but who notices the contradiction anymore?  The Regents further demoralized the UC community by kicking everyone except themselves out of the search process, and making the selection of the next president an expression of their sole ownership of the University.  Then Covid-19 came along, and the immediate reflex was to start planning for cuts. With rare exceptions, administrators did not resist, even for a few days. It's obvious to me that the university, the state, and the country can only spend its way out of this crisis, and that we should spend massively on the things we want, like environmental sustainability, intellectual progress, and social justice. Universities should be central articulators of the solutions.  Do we have it in us? We've spent years just trying to hang on financially while ignoring the stupid slings and arrows politically.  Can we still go really big?  UC needs a president that wants a major role for universities in maximalist social reconstruction-- and will learn from the people of the university how to enable it.

UPDATE JULY 7: My first reaction to the widely-expected announcement that Michael Drake is coming back to UC as president is total relief.  He's an academic. He's an educator. He's a good administrator. He knows how UC works.  He will not require basic education--quite the opposite. He'll be the first president of color of a university whose student body is 27 percent white.   He is  certainly capable of doing the things listed above.

Two other things.  During the financial crisis of 2007-2011, when he was serving as Irvine's chancellor, he told the regents more of the truth about quality decline on campus than did any other officials. In March 2011, he told the Board that "faculty members now spend a great deal of time mitigating damage caused by cuts rather than building for the future. He described the situation of the University as one of slow decay rather than growth. Most effort is focused on protecting the educational path for students; innovation and growth are not being fostered."  He fudged it a bit, and said UC was going from A+ to A, but his statements of struggle and slow decline was a pointed heresy in a rigid, formulaic governing system. It got the regents to pay more attention to the chancellors.

On the other hand, Drake gave up on public funding in the 2000s. He may continue to think, as I wrote at the time, that "the budget shortfalls can be handled with regrettable but nonetheless manageable layoffs that have already taken place. The non-UC reader would think, well they’re tightening their belts and fixing their IT problems and we’ll end up with a UC that gets an A for only $2.5 billion in state funds. There is no screaming on our end that says no it cannot be this way and also no it need not be this way."

Michael Drake is an historic appointment--of a continuity candidate, in a time when continuity won't work, in the minimal sense of keeping UC solvent with an intact workforce.  If he is going to rebuild UC for the future, by doing those things listed above, he will need help and also pressure from faculty, staff, and students beyond anything that has been offered up before. Lots of work to do.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Sunday, June 28, 2020
Answer: when students of color get access to and are included in a university that has become inferior to that built for whites.

This can happen across universities, or across campuses in a university system, or across disciplines on a campus, or across time in one university.  Victories for access don't take care of the problem of unequal educational treatment.

This isn't to belittle this month's access victories.

First, the University of California Board of Regents voted to phase out the SAT in admissions.  This will push UC and others towards the holistic, qualitative assessment of candidates that they should have been practicing since the Bakke decision of 1978.  It's true that the Academic Senate's report suggests this isn't a magic bullet for increasing the presence of underrepresented minority (URM) students. It's also true that the decision was not good for faculty governance (see John Douglass's new paper on both points). All I'll note here is that the SAT is not just a test. It's an ideology, one that has consistently and wrongly claimed that racial inclusion lowers academic quality.  Politicians have used SAT scores to make whites think that widening access victimizes them.  It has been a technology of racial resentment that has helped unmake the public university. (See chapters 3-7 in my book of that name for an extended discussion of the structural racism of what I called rank meritocracy, featuring 1990s Gov. Pete Wilson's use of SAT scores to induce the UC Regents to ban affirmative action.)  The SAT's suspension is a real victory for cross-racial access.

The same can be said of the temporary reprieve for the DACA program won by a UC lawsuit.  UC president Janet Napolitano and Board of Regents chair John Pérez noted that UC would continue to fight for full access to UC and to financial aid, legal services, and other support systems for undocumented students brought to the US as children.  
Such actions “expressed the desire of those of us in California to make sure that we expanded opportunity and worked towards broad-based immigration reform as well,” Pérez said.  And so I think it would be no surprise to anybody that this university is going to continue to commit itself to representing the interest of all our students."
This is another access victory, which universities will need to work to sustain.

And yet access raises the question, access to what? What is the university that Napolitano and Pérez, as those most responsible for UC's finances, offer access to?

In brief, they offer today's students access to an underfunded UC.  Today's increased proportion of undocumented, first generation, low-income, immigrant, and URM students have fewer educational and related resources than did the cohorts that came before.

I documented this in a recent post.  Even after today's students pay a multiple of the tuition paid by students twenty years ago, their UC of 2020 has sixty percent of the net per-student funding compared to that earlier UC.  I noted that Pérez, as Assembly Speaker, was a leading enforcer of this austerity.

But is this negative funding pattern a racial pattern? We can check by comparing the share of white students at UC to the share of state income the government allocates to the university. 

The state's politicians have defunded UC in the exact proportion of its decline in white student share.

This is not a coordinated intention, but it has happened anyway. White enrollment and funding go down hand in hand--except when funding goes down faster during major economic downturns. Republican and Democratic leaders give diverse UC less money than they gave a comparatively white UC. This is what racist inclusion looks like.

Higher ed funding expresses systemic racism, even as most members of college communities oppose it.  We've seen the national pattern of "separate but unequal" in which most new white students go to selective colleges while most new students of color go to open access colleges--which have less money and lower graduation rates. We've seen the UC campuses with higher shares of students of color get less funding from UCOP. ("Rebenching" did not fully fix this).  In our UC system case, we see California state leaders--including leaders of racialized, educationally underserved communities--coming up with excuses, year after year, to fund UC in inverse proportion to its diversity. 

One can be consciously anti-racist while supporting systemic racism.  This is a pattern in U.S. political life. The pattern is top-down austerity management for institutions devoted to racial equality and related forms of social justice.  While politicians of both major parties have deregulated and de-taxed the private sector, they have applied austerity to public institutions, which offer reduced quality of service to populations that are often minority-majority.

The historian Elizabeth Hinton recently outlined the longer-term pattern:
President Lyndon B. Johnson recognized the role police brutality and socioeconomic inequality played in urban uprisings when he convened the Kerner Commission in 1967. Its report warned that if American political and economic institutions failed to commit resources “sufficient to make a dramatic, visible impact on life in the urban ghetto,” the nation would become increasingly divided along racial lines and plagued by inequality — a “spiral” of segregation, violence and police force.
Though the Kerner Commission and much subsequent research created "blueprints" for changing the “socioeconomic conditions that led to [George] Floyd’s premature death,” these research blueprints were never implemented.
The tragedy of the war on poverty is that the promise of grass-roots empowerment and representation was not sustained on a wider level, or for entire communities, but only for individuals. While remnants of critical reforms are still with us, like the Head Start program, on the whole policymakers at all levels believed “maximum feasible participation” worked against their self-interest. By 1965, as many promising grass-roots initiatives began to receive the initial [Office of Economic Opportunity] grants, they were required to design programs with public officials and municipal authorities in top-level positions. Soon after, policymakers defunded and dissolved anti-poverty programs.

UC isn't being dissolved.  But it is being steadily defunded.  Napolitano and her OP, Pérez and his regents, aren't openly opposing the most likely scenario for the state portion of UC's 2020-21 budget--a net 7 percent cut from 2019-20's level, or -$260.8 million. This cut to the permanent budget would happen in a year when Covid-19 health and safety could add at least $1 billion to the system's costs.

The long defunding has reduced the power and vitality of UC grassroots--for example, of the academic departments with a fraction of their former funding for speakers and internal research, which now depend on the accident of private donations. Similarly, UC's equivalent of anti-poverty programs--for students facing food insecurity, housing insecurity, and mental health issues--are also funded at a fraction of estimated need.

Replicating the other key post-Kerner retrenchment, UC governance is more top-down than ever.    On the important matter of selecting the new president, the Board excluded the Academic Advisory Committee from basic participation in the search for the new president: even its Chair was not allowed to attend selection committee meetings. UCOP treated the UCSC wildcat COLA strike as a breach of contract discipline rather than as a desperate attempt to communicate basic needs. Participants still face disciplinary charges at Santa Cruz in spite of faculty objections. The Board of Regents remain literally inaccessible to faculty, who may not address the Board except through the president (Standing Order 105.2(e)).

Jerry Brown, Gavin Newsom, Janet Napolitano, John Pérez, and their legislative comrades have replicated in higher ed the strategy that 1960s politicians applied  to cities after Black uprisings against police violence and racist underdevelopment.  They have expressed support for their developmentalist institutions while taking money and power out of them.  Of course the social damage done by underfunding public services for Black and other communities has been far greater than that wrought by underfunding of public universities.  But the practices are analogous.

The public university funding model is broken--and racist.  More inclusion as such won't fix that. Funding parity will fix it.  That means the 66 Dollar Fix or some similar Covid-era stimulus funding that gets per-student resources to the benchmark established for white UC.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Friday, June 12, 2020
A newly formed group, the DIVEST/ INVEST UCLA Faculty Collective, submitted a letter to the Chancellor of UCLA today demanding immediate divestment from all police and law enforcement agencies. This letter was signed by the 33 members of the collective and is co-signed by 214 other faculty.

The Divestment Now Demands letter urges Chancellor Gene Block to commit immediately to “end [UCLA’s] relationship with the Los Angeles Police Department and other county, state, and federal police departments and security agencies, including but not limited to the LA Sheriff’s Department, the California Highway Patrol, the Santa Monica Police Department, Department of Homeland Security, and ICE.”

It also demands that UCLA defund UCPD and “replace it with anti-carceral forms of accountability, including restorative and transformative justice and community-led public safety.”

This letter stands in support of demands for action put forward by Black students and Black faculty at UCLA. Professor Kelly Lytle Hernández, Director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA and a member of the DIVEST/ INVEST UCLA Faculty Collective stated: “The uprising for Black life is knocking on UCLA’s door and it has yet to answer.” She urged UCLA leadership to “meet the historic opportunity for systemic change by divesting from white supremacy and investing in Black life.”

The DIVEST/INVEST UCLA Faculty Collective is made up of faculty who played a key role in exposing LAPD’s recent use of UCLA’s Jackie Robinson Stadium as a field jail for detaining protesters and processing arrests. When faculty wrote to UCLA leadership in protest, UCLA leadership initially claimed to have had no knowledge of LAPD’s use of the stadium, only to acknowledge later that they did know that it was to be used as a “staging area,” though not as a field jail. In the Divestment Now Demands letter, UCLA faculty insist that UCLA take accountability for having aided the field jail and point out that “as long as UCLA collaborates with LAPD and other police forces, it is complicit in, and bears responsibility for, police brutality and racialized state violence.”

Joining a UC-wide and national movement, the UCLA faculty call for the university to step up to the moment and commit to abolition as part of its commitments as a public university. This includes reinvesting the university’s resources toward research and teaching, especially in the areas of racial justice, supporting Black students, faculty, staff, and workers at UCLA, as well as the Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities impacted by police violence.

Sarah Haley, (203) 675-3653, sahaley@gmail.com
Ananya Roy, (510) 316-7731, ananyaucla@gmail.com

Photo Credit: Courthouse News


Thursday, June 4, 2020

Thursday, June 4, 2020

TO: Chancellor Gene D. Block, UCLA
 Executive Vice-Chancellor & Provost Emily Carter
Vice Chancellor Michael Beck
Vice Chancellor Jerry Kang

We write in response to your “Violation of Values” Bruinpost of June 3, 2020, regarding LAPD’s use of the Jackie Robinson Stadium as a field jail. We are glad to see that our efforts at shining a light on this incident have led UCLA leadership to reflect on the university’s active collaboration with LAPD including through the use of UCLA facilities by LAPD. We look forward to concrete next steps to ensure the “commitment to equity, diversity, respect and justice” that you foreground in your letter.

But as we noted in our letter of June 3, 2020, it is difficult for us to have confidence in these next steps without knowledge of the full truth. Last evening, the Los Angeles Times published the following: “The LAPD said in a statement late Wednesday that it created a command post in the stadium parking lot on Sunday in preparation for planned demonstration in Westwood the following day. It said the facility had been used ‘for previous city emergencies and was obtained with the approval of the staff’ of UCLA.” We immediately wrote to VC Beck expressing concern that this very disturbing fact had been omitted from his multiple communications with us, despite our request for a full and public accounting of the decisions, permissions, and agreements that enabled the use of the Jackie Robinson Stadium as a field jail.

We include VC Beck’s reply to Professor Roy in its entirety so as to not misrepresent it: “Thank you for sharing your increased frustration in this situation. As I indicated in my earlier email to you today, the letter to you and the other faculty members last night was intended to deal directly with the issue that you raised and social media was questioning with regard to the use of the stadium parking lot as a “field jail.” It was never my intend to mislead you or others by excluding the information with regard to the site being used for a staging area. We have a BruinPost that should be going out any minute, which clearly states that we were aware that the site was being used as a staging site for the LAPD command post as it has been used many times in the past. We acknowledge that such use in this situation was inappropriate and apologize for not being more sensitive to this reality. It is important to clarify a point in the article below, which is that LAPD did not request the use of the property from UCLA. They requested authorization from the VA directly. In the end that is less important since we became aware of the staging site on Monday. In addition, as is customary in the efforts to coordinate with mutual aid police agencies, we had a Lieutenant at the command post during the protest. The lieutenant left prior to LAPD deciding to, without our knowledge or permission, convert the site to a field processing center later in the evening and he was unaware of that use when he left. The LAPD has acknowledge [stet] that they did not tell UCLA that they were going to use the property for processing of arrestees. I am happy to answer other questions so that the record is clear." 

If earlier we were both incredulous and alarmed that you had no knowledge of the field jail, given its scale, scope, and duration, now we are even more incredulous and alarmed. We are incredulous because none of us as faculty would accept from our students the line of argumentation that VC Beck presented to us last evening. If you were aware that the site was being used as a staging site for the LAPD command post, then the omission of this fact from previous communications with us (which included other details of how the site has been used, for example by LAFD) is a violation of the full truth. And we are alarmed that UCLA leadership is unwilling to acknowledge the direct connection between this command post and the subsequent field jail. Are we as scholars under the impression that the police hand out lemonade to protesters at these “staging areas”? Especially troubling is the detail in VC Beck’s email about the role of what we presume is a UCPD Lieutenant, raising question about active UCPD-UCLA collaboration in the policing of protests.

As we noted in our initial letter, such active collaboration with the police state stands in sharp hypocrisy to the statements of solidarity with protest that the UCLA leadership has issued recently. It undermines our confidence in the sentiment expressed in yesterday’s “Violation of Values” post. The withholding of information, in the face of the anguish and trauma of those detained at the Stadium and despite our quest for the full truth, confirms our concerns about the relationship between UCLA and LAPD and extends to UCPD as well. It reminds us why Black, Brown, and Indigenous students, faculty, students, and workers do not feel safe on this campus, and brings us more forcefully to our call to end UCLA’s relationship with LAPD and other police forces.

We once again ask for a public accounting of all communications, permissions, and agreements pertaining to the use of the Jackie Robinson Stadium AND other UCLA facilities as staging areas and command posts by LAPD. We hope that we do not have to spend more time explaining what we mean by the full truth. This should be evident to all parties concerned.

We once again emphasize that if the field jail was LAPD use of property without authorization from the lessee, in this case UCLA, then we expect the university to seek compensation for such use and invest these resources in a manner that provides a modicum of remedy.

In addition, as noted in our letter of June 3, 2020, starting next week, we the UCLA faculty, will form a Divestment Working Group, which will work closely with student and community organizations, with an initial demand that UCLA divest fully from any relationships with LAPD.

Such a Divestment Working Group will build on the long-standing work of departments, centers, and initiatives at UCLA that are already engaged in studying and dismantling structural racism. We will share with you our concrete, actionable recommendations toward implementing the goal of divestment, as well as that of investing in alternatives to policing.


The Executive Committee of Concerned UCLA Faculty

Ananya Roy
Laura Abrams
Leisy Abrego
Hannah Appel
Sarah Haley
Kelly Lytle Hernández
Grace Kyungwon Hong
Gaye Theresa Johnson
Michael Lens
Shannon Speed
Noah Zatz
Maite Zubiaurre

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Dear Vice Chancellor Beck,

     We write in response to your communication of June 2, 2020, regarding the use of the Jackie Robinson Stadium to detain protesters and process arrests on the evening of June 1, 2020.

     You state in your letter that “the use of the Jackie Robinson Stadium parking lot as a ‘field jail’ was not done with the administration’s permission, collaboration or knowledge.” You also state that from time to time, city agencies like the Los Angeles Fire Department ask UCLA’s permission to use the parking lot as a staging area during fires or other emergencies” and that UCLA “typically grant[s] those permissions.” You note that this was the case a few weeks agowhen “LAFD asked UCLA’s permission to utilize the parking lot as a COVID‐19 testing area and the university granted that permission.”

     Taking into account these facts, addressing you, Chancellor Block, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Emily Carter, we request the following actions:

1. UCLA leadership issue a public statement that LAPD undertook unauthorized use of the Jackie Robinson Stadium as a field jail on June 1, 2020, and issue a public letter to Chief Michel Moore demanding both explanation and compensation for LAPD’s use of the property without permission from the lessee, i.e. UCLA. Since this amounts to civil trespassing or the commandeering of property, we ask that UCLA leadership, at the very least, demand compensation for this unauthorized use of its property, if not file a formal complaint and charges.  Our UCLA Law faculty stand by to provide guidance and expertise on this matter.

2. Your letter notes that “LAPD has vacated the property” and that UCLA “will inform them that future use as an arrest processing center will not be granted.”

     a) We ask that you share a copy of this specific communication with LAPD immediately with the UCLA community including this group of concerned faculty. This will assure us that UCLA has taken a measure of action.

      b) As per our first letter, we continue to ask that you make public all information you have pertaining to the use of Jackie Robinson Stadium by LAPD on June 1, 2020. We would like to know when and how you were notified of such use and by whom.

     c) Given that UCLA occupies Jackie Robinson Stadium and the surrounding land only under the authority of the West Los Angeles Leasing Act of 2016 and the lease agreement between UCLA and the Department of Veteran Affairs executed on December 23, 2016, both of which provide that UCLA’s activities under the lease will principally benefit military veterans, for whose specific benefit the land was granted to the United States Government, we ask that you make public all information regarding the other uses of the land you have given over to the City of Los Angeles since the execution of the lease, and all communications between you, the City of Los Angeles, and the Department of Veterans Affairs regarding such uses, including communications tending to show that
such activities benefited veterans in any way.

     d) We are not assured that the use of UCLA facilities, whether the Jackie Robinson Stadium or other sites, by LAPD, will not take place in the future. If UCLA leadership, including yourself, was unaware of such use, we are now additionally concerned about the breakdown of lines of communication and reporting within UCLA and between UCLA and city agencies.

Our first letter shared chilling testimony from protesters detained and processed at Jackie Robinson Stadium. We have now heard from more of them, including UCLA students, who were arrested in downtown Los Angeles for curfew violation, bused to the stadium, and held there for seven hours before being processed and released at 3 am onto the streets of Westwood, far from their homes. We have also heard from a criminal defense attorney who was contacted by one of the arrested protesters who needed medical attention. After repeated 9-11 calls received no response, the attorney decided to himself go to the Jackie Robinson Stadium to serve as counsel accompanied by a physician to provide medical help. What the attorney witnessed was an “organized scene” of detention and arrest processing, a massive set-up with many, many buses and scores of LAPD officers. Given the scale, scope, and duration of this field jail, we are incredulous that you and other UCLA leadership were unaware of the situation. How can we be assured that this will not repeat itself, putting many people in harm’s way, only to be later told that it happened without UCLA’s knowledge and permission? Responsibility lies with UCLA whether permission was granted or not.

We ask that UCLA leadership issue a public statement stating that LAPD will not be able to use UCLA facilities, whether those leased or directly owned by the university.

3. This incident has made it clear to us as concerned faculty that LAPD is not a trustworthy partner for UCLA. What is at stake is much more than remedy for unauthorized use of UCLA facilities. As we stated in our first letter, NOW is the time for UCLA to make a robust commitment to ending collaboration with the police state. Across the country, and especially in Los Angeles, community organizations and justice movements are working hard to ensure that public resources are invested in education, health, and housing rather than in policing. It is vitally important that UCLA follow the lead of other public universities such as the University of Minnesota and take action to sever ties with LAPD. Starting next week, we the UCLA faculty, will form a Divestment Working Group, which will work closely with student and community organizations towards the common goal of Divest/ Invest.

We ask that UCLA leadership join us in making an immediate public pledge to such a goal and commit to working with faculty, students, staff, and workers to ensure such outcomes of justice on our campus and for our communities. As faculty, we want UCLA to prioritize the educational mission of teaching and research over policing.


The Executive Committee of Concerned UCLA Faculty
Ananya Roy
Laura Abrams
Leisy Abrego
Hannah Appel
Sarah Haley
Kelly Lytle Hernández
Grace Kyungwon Hong
Michael Lens
Shannon Speed
Noah Zatz
Maite Zubiaurre

Photo Credit: Daily Bruin
Dear Chancellor Block and Executive Vice-Chancellor Carter [UCLA],

It has come to our attention that last evening, June 1, 2020, a UCLA facility, the Jackie Robinson Stadium, was used by LAPD to detain protesters and process arrests, including arrests of UCLA students. We have heard from the National Lawyers Guild-Los Angeles, arrested UCLA students, and other arrested protesters on this matter.

Testimony from arrested protesters is chilling. Arrested for violation of curfew in downtown Los Angeles, protesters were crowded into LA County Sheriff’s Department buses and brought to UCLA. As they arrived, they looked out of the small windows on these prison buses only to see Bruins logos and signs greeting them at the Jackie Robinson Stadium.

Protesters were held on these buses at UCLA for five to six hours, without access to restrooms, food, water, information, or medical attention. Indeed, there was a medical emergency on one of the buses, one that received a response from the fire department several hours later. All protocols of social distancing were violated by the LA County Sheriff’s Department and LAPD with protesters deliberately crowded into buses and officers not following rules and recommendations established by the City, the County, and the CDC, including wearing masks. The cruel irony that this took place at a location used as a COVID-19 testing site is not lost on those arrested or on us.

When protesters were taken off the buses, they were subject to processing in the parking lot of the stadium and then released, which meant that they were directed to find their way home late at night (between 1:30 am and 3:30 am) from the Jackie Robinson Stadium. Without working cell phones and under conditions of curfew, this was a near impossible task, especially for those unhoused Angelenos who had also been arrested for curfew violation for simply being on the streets of downtown Los Angeles and were now marooned at UCLA.

In addition, protesters, including UCLA students, were arrested in Westwood, again for violation of curfew. They were brought to Jackie Robinson Stadium on LAPD buses after LAPD tried to commandeer a 720 Metro Bus but failed to maneuver it through the streets. We share these details because if you do not already know them, you must know them now.

We write to express our deep concern about these events and the matter of UCLA collaboration with LAPD and other police forces. In recent days, UCLA leadership has shared statements of solidarity denouncing institutionalized racism and recognizing the importance of protest against such racism. Last night’s use of Jackie Robinson Stadium stands in sharp hypocrisy to these statements. We have heard from our students and we agree that such solidarity statements must be accompanied not by collaboration with the police but by concrete steps that move us towards the divestment of UCLA from LAPD and other forms of policing, similar to the prompt action taken by the President of the University of Minnesota following the murder of Mr. George Floyd. In the coming months, we intend to work towards this goal in partnership with student and community organizations. We look forward to being in dialogue and alliance with you on this.

That said, we also seek a full accounting of the events of last evening. The Jackie Robinson Stadium is a UCLA facility, implicating all of us in the use of that space to detain protestors and process arrests. It is our understanding that UCLA holds the lease to the Jackie Robinson Stadium and its parking lots, which sit on VA grounds. We ask for a detailed, public statement on the chain of events, decisions, and command lines that led to the use of this facility by LAPD and its mobile processing units last evening and a copy of any agreements that may govern LAPD’s use of this UCLA facility. We also ask for an immediate cessation of the use of this facility or any other UCLA facility by LAPD and other police forces.

Last evening, UCLA students were arrested for engaging in the constitutionally protected right to peacefully protest against racial injustice, which is pervasive in American policing. They were detained and processed at a stadium on their own campus named after Jackie Robinson, an icon of the long and unfinished struggle for Black freedom. Today many of them are trying to complete final examinations and final assignments. This is not the UCLA education and experience that they deserve.

But this is not just about our students. As UCLA faculty, we refuse to allow our university to serve as a police outpost at this moment of national uprising and at any other time. As a public university, we serve the public and our students, and this in turn requires dismantling the mechanisms of punishment that have historically caused undeniable harm to communities in Los Angeles.

A few days ago, we were glad to read your statement which noted: "Still, we recognize that UCLA also can and must do better. As campus leaders, we recommit ourselves to ensuring that our policies and actions value the lives, safety and dignity of every Bruin." This is our chance to do better.
We look forward to receiving a full and detailed accounting of last evening’s incident and to working with you and the rest of the UCLA leadership on divestment from collaborations with LAPD and other police forces.


Ananya Roy
Professor of Urban Planning, Social Welfare, and Geography
The Meyer and Renee Luskin Chair in Inequality and Democracy
Director, UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy

Hannah Appel
Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Global Studies
Associate Director, UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy

Laura Abrams
Professor and Chair of Social Welfare

Karen Umemoto
Helen and Morgan Chu Chair, Asian American Studies Center
Professor of Urban Planning and Asian American Studies

Michael Lens
Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy
Associate Director, UCLA Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies

Kelly Lytle Hernández
Professor of History, African American Studies, and Urban Planning
The Thomas E. Lifka Endowed Chair of History
Director, Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA
Director, Million Dollar Hoods

Mishuana Goeman (Tonawanda Band of Seneca)
Associate Professor of Gender Studies
Chair of American Indian Studies IDP
Special Advisor to the Chancellor on Native American and Indigenous Affairs

Eric Avila
Chair and Professor, César E. Chávez Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies
Professor of History and Urban Planning

Gaye Theresa Johnson
Associate Professor of African American Studies and Chicana and Chicano Studies

Leisy Abrego
Professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies

Maite Zubiaurre
Professor of Germanic Languages and Spanish & Portuguese

Aradhna Tripati
Associate Professor, UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability
Director and Founder, UCLA Center for Diverse Leadership in Science

Rachel C. Lee
Director, Center for the Study of Women
Professor of English, Gender Studies & the Institute of Society and Genetics

Elizabeth Marchant
Chair of Gender Studies
Associate Professor of Gender Studies and Comparative Literature

Sherene H. Razack
Distinguished Professor of Gender Studies
Penny Kanner Endowed Chair in Women's Studies

Grace Kyungwon Hong
Associate Director, Center for the Study of Women
Professor of Asian American Studies and Gender Studies

Vinay Lal
Professor of History and Asian American Studies

Matt Barreto
Professor of Political Science

Chris Tilly
Professor of Urban Planning

Kent Wong
Director, UCLA Labor Center

Abel Valenzuela Jr.
Special Advisor to the Chancellor on Immigration Policy
Director, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment
Professor of Chicana/o Studies and Urban Planning

Sonja Diaz,
Director, Latino Policy and Politics Initiative

Paul Ong
Professor of Urban Planning and Asian American Studies
Director, UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge

Victor Bascara
Chair and Associate Professor of Asian American Studies

Renee Tajima-Peña
Professor of Asian American Studies
Director, UCLA Center for EthnoCommunications

Akhil Gupta
Professor of Anthropology
Director, Center for India and South Asia

Chon Noriega
Professor of Film, Television, and Digital Media
Director, UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center

Shannon Speed (Chickasaw)
Professor of Gender Studies and Anthropology
Director, American Indian Studies Center

Chandra L. Ford
Associate Professor of Department of Community Health Sciences
Director, Center for the Study of Racism, Social Justice & Health

Bryonn Bain
Associate Professor of African American Studies and World Arts and Cultures/ Dance
Director, UCLA Prison Education Program

Marcus Anthony Hunter
Scott Waugh Endowed Chair in the Division of the Social Sciences
Professor of Sociology
Chair, Department of African American Studies

Noah Zatz
Professor of Law

Eric Sheppard
Professor of Geography

Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris
Professor of Urban Planning
Associate Dean, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

E. Tendayi Achiume
Professor of Law, Faculty Director, Promise Institute for Human Rights
United Nations Special Rapporteur on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related

Walter Allen
Distinguished Professor, Allan Murray Cartter Professor of Higher Education

Sameer M. Ashar
Vice Dean for Experiential Education and Professor of Law

Devon Carbado
Associate Vice Chancellor of BruinX for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
The Honorable Harry Pregerson Professor of Law

Jessica Cattelino
Professor of Anthropology

Kamari Clark
Professor of Anthropology

LaToya Baldwin Clark
Assistant Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law

Cheryl Harris
Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Professor in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
UCLA Law School

Peter Hudson
Professor of History and African American Studies

Jasleen Kohli
Director, Critical Race Studies Program, UCLA School of Law

Jemima Pierre
Professor of Anthropology and African American Studies

Brad Sears
Associate Dean of Public Interest Law, UCLA School of Law

Caroline Streeter
Professor of English

Jason Throop
Professor and Chair of Anthropology

Alicia Viriani
Associate Director of the Criminal Justice Program at UCLA School of Law

Alex L. Wang
Professor of Law

Karin Wang
Executive Director, Epstein Program and Professor from Practice, UCLA School of Law

Andrew Whitcup
Lecturer, UCLA School of Law

Daniel G. Solorzano
Professor of Social Science & Comparative Education

Kimberlé Crenshaw
Distinguished Professor of Law, Promise Institute Chair in Human Rights, UCLA School of Law

Brenda Kim
Manager of Operations and Events, Office of Public Interest Programs, UCLA School of Law

Joseph P. Berra
Human Rights in the Americas Project Director, UCLA School of Law

Kate Mackintosh
Executive Director, Promise Institute for Human Rights, UCLA School of Law

Laura Gómez
Professor of Law
Faculty Director, Critical Race Studies Program at UCLA Law

Beth A. Colgan
Professor of Law

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Thursday, May 28, 2020
Statement from the American Association of University Professors chapter at New York University

In ordinary circumstances, most of what AAUP chapters do is reactive—stepping up to advocate for the protection of faculty and student rights when they are under threat. At a time when higher education’s morbid expectation of its future is one of crushing austerity and, for some colleges, extinction, our NYU group decided to be proactive and assemble some principles for a post-COVID university. This was not done because we labor under the illusion that a university can be a morally purified space. Instead, we wanted to honor (by gathering together) the ideas and suggestions and arguments for reforming our institution that we have heard being made by faculty and students over the years. Of course, many of the action items on the list are far above our pay grade, but, at some point, we have to start behaving like self-organizing employees of the more humane workplace outlined here. --Andrew Ross, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, NYU


Principles for a Post-COVID University

How should NYU play its role in a “just recovery” from the COVID crisis? How can we build on the experience of the crisis and from the opinions, grievances, and solidarity that circulated in NYU communities during this period? In thinking about how the university can sustain and rebuild itself, the AAUP envisions NYU as a more transparent, democratic, caring and resilient institution, prioritizing the equitable treatment and rights of its students and employees, minimizing the cost of attendance, and striving more single-mindedly to live up to its motto—“a private university in the public service.”

For too long, NYU policy has been dictated by debt-leveraged expansionary growth, domestically and overseas, and by an institutional desire for upward mobility as measured by national and international rankings. Post-COVID, and in the spirit of social and ecological sustainability, we would like to see NYU focus on thriving in place rather than reaching after “performance” goals that are defined by financial institutions or managerial value metrics. 


With the university’s finances under pressure, now is the time to provide faculty, students and staff full access to NYU’s fiscal affairs.

Participatory budgeting should be a key component of the transition to transparency

Executive policy-making should be open to faculty review, and senior administrators should draw more routinely on faculty expertise

Top-level decision-makers should consult and solicit input from the faculty body before making large-scale policy moves, especially on GNU matters

The terms of operation of global branches – in Abu Dhabi, Shanghai, and other GNU “nodes” -- should be transparent to the entire NYU community.


The faculty role in shared governance, as recognized by AAUP principles, should be fully restored and clarified.

The NYU administration should agree and affirm that the Faculty Handbook is contractually binding.

Faculty and students should be represented on the Board of Trustees.

Faculty who are elected, and not handpicked, should serve on committees to choose senior administrators, including the Provost and President.

Minutes of BOT and administrative leadership meetings should be accessible to faculty and students.

The right to organize (including that of contract and tenure-track faculty) should be upheld and encouraged, and NYU should recognize any bargaining unit formed by a majority of its eligible members.

Community-driven town halls and plenary assemblies should be instituted on the NYU Calendar to inform and review institutional decision-making.

NYU should be a sanctuary campus, prioritizing safety and sanctuary to members of the university and its host communities.

Resources and legal assistance should be extended to vulnerable and marginalized community members.

NYU should not operate branches of the university, domestic or overseas, in breach of its nondiscrimination policies.

Employees and students should have (free) access to comprehensive health care at Langone-Grossman if they choose.

Workplace welfare councils (with faculty, student, and staff representation) should be elected in every university unit to safeguard employee well-being and workplace quality.


Every effort should be made to lower tuition and retire NYU’s reputation as poster child for student debt.

NYU’s unequal pay structures should be addressed, including gender salary gaps, salary compression, and the role of underrepresentation of minority faculty.

Senior administrator salaries should be sliced, and nonacademic administrative personnel positions downsized.

NYU should establish a much more equitable range spread between the highest and lowest paid of NYU employees, with total compensation packages included in these re-adjustments.

Salary and student fellowship increases should be tied to COLA, and not merit evaluations.

NYU should secure the steady conversion of NTT into TT faculty positions at every GNU location and in its US campuses; as a preliminary goal, NYU should aim for not more than 25% NTT positions in 5 years across the university.

NYU should extend protections comparable to those that accrue to tenure to all full-time faculty who have served continuously for seven years.

Faculty housing rent should be capped at an affordable percentage of income.


NYU’s carbon footprint should be minimized and its endowed funds should divest from the fossil fuel industry, and all enterprises involved in incarceration, immigrant detention, and military production.

Air travel, to global sites and to academic meetings, should be curtailed.

Cross-disciplinary climate crisis research and study should be prioritized.

New environmental justice and climate justice initiatives should be targeted and funded.

NYU should adopt an environmental stewardship role in downtown Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn, modelling and propagating just practices.

Public Service

Since NYU sits on occupied lands of Lenni Lenape peoples, it should fully adopt a charter of decolonial ethics and practice.

NYU should extend public access (for meetings, workshops, assemblies) to its underutilized classrooms and buildings when they are not being used. It should also seek to provide students across the city access to its libraries and online research resources.

NYU should prioritize pathways for students from New York public schools and community colleges to matriculate at NYU; it should also extend and deepen support to such institutions in other ways that those institutions identify as arenas for collaboration.

NYU should make special efforts to support DACA and undocumented students.

NYU’s reach as a landlord and real estate owner should be surveyed and redefined to help address the city’s urgent housing crisis.

Representatives from Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn communities should have the right to review and participate in the approval of all new building and expansion plans.

Local community representatives should have the right to serve on a committee for developing university-community initiatives that will benefit from NYU’s research and resources.

Racial and Social Justice

Indigenous study and engagement should be instituted and encouraged in all university programs.

NYU resources should prioritize the reduction of institutional inequalities for students, staff and faculty of color, along with LGBTQ, disabled community members, DACA and undocumented students.

NYU should insist on staffing reforms on the part of departments and units with an overwhelming majority of white instructors.

Gender balance and racial diversity should be adopted as an institutional principle of all NYU workplaces.

Truly affordable housing should be made available for faculty of color and first-generation academics who often have higher student debt burdens than their peers and cannot rely on family wealth.

Global University?

NYU should convene a community-wide review of the GNU mission and its record.

Free movement of students and scholars across borders and GNU sites should be guaranteed by NYU and host authorities.

NYU should loudly and visibly protest travel and enrollment restrictions at its GNU sites and NYC campuses and lobby the relevant political authorities to lift those restrictions. In cases where there are boycotts of NYU campuses by faculty and students in other parts of NYU because of these restrictions, NYU should recognize these as fundamental expressions of academic freedom.

Academic freedom protections, in all of the forms and expressions recognized by the AAUP, should be guaranteed across all NYU sites.

NYU should uphold the right of all employees, including those contracted to construct and maintain GNU buildings, to be protected by the ILO's basic international labor standards.

NYU should insist that US authorities remedy the challenges faced by international students and faculty--travel restrictions, embassy closures, and impractical visa protocols.
      The Executive Committee of the NYU Chapter of the AAUP
         Rebecca Karl, President
         Paula Chakravartty Vice-President
         Andrew Ross, Secretary
         Anna McCarthy, Treasurer
         Fred Moten, Member-at-large
         Vasuki Nesiah, Member-at-large
         Mohamad Bazzi, Member-at-large
         Marie Monaco, Immediate past President

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Sunday, May 24, 2020
Should university officials be fatalistic about Covid-powered cuts to their core educational budgets?  Or should they work 24/7 on their state governments to keep their current budgets whole?

What about state governments? Should they cut higher ed yet again, as various governors are doing (New Jersey, Ohio), and as Gavin Newsom proposes in California?

This post investigates the budget case for a zero-cuts policy.  If your state's public colleges and universities have an ample base budget, you can make some temporary cuts to their state funding. If they are already bare bones, further budget cuts will cut educational quality.

0. Why The History?

There are lots of ways to use numbers as proxies for teaching and research quality.  Most are bad. A pretty good one for teaching is instructional expenditures per student. To help state governments understand quality, departments could establish a set of minimum practices, then cost them out.   Campuses could figure out what their budgets must be to meet these standards. But departments haven't been invited to build the budget that would meet their needs.  And the averages for instructional expenditure that have been used by my case study here, the University of California system, aren't reliable.

Instead, I'll use historical budget trends as quality proxies.  I do this for two reasons.  First, the history of the state's relationship to UC controls what the state thinks UC should have.  This is a strained history and it still matters.

Second, UC's budget history expresses the idea that public universities could and should be as good as elite private universities.  Public university students should be roughly equal to private university students. The same was to be true of their faculties.

Historical budgets expressed this aspiration for equality through public quality.  A detailed Senate report I co-authored identified this proxy for full quality as UC's 1990 budget. Strong budgets expressed the quality aspiration in reality as well as in theory.  For example, previous, higher levels of public funding for UC campuses had enabled most of them to become members of the American Association of Universities, a group of North America's strongest research universities. Nearly all did this while tuition was still very low and with negligible per-student endowments.  This taught an important general lesson: Great academic quality came as readily from public support as from private capital.

Quality wasn't just about prestige, but also about social effects.  Public universities were to educate students as well as private universities did.  There were always resource differences (though not today's resource abyss), so let's put it this way: students were not to have to accept lower cognitive benefits from their B.A. by getting it from UC Irvine instead of from Occidental College.  UCI students had more courses in large-lecture format, so UCI had also to be able to afford lots of small courses too.  Occidental College seniors could write a thesis that taught them how to produce as well as consume knowledge.  So UCI had to offer undergraduate research experiences.

The same was true in research: major public universities were  to be as good as the elite privates (Berkeley and Stanford, Urbana-Champaign and the University of Chicago, Chapel Hill and Duke, Rutgers and Princeton, etc.).  Public university doctoral and professional degrees needed to be roughly comparable to private university degrees--or at least not in different leagues. The idea was to have proverbial world-class research going on at several hundred research universities rather than mainly at 16 Ivy League universities and their wealthy equivalents. Public universities needed plenty of internal funds to support research.  It was a national priority to have millions of really good thinkers and hundreds of really good research sites. The dominant political culture assumed these two things--widespread intelligence, abundant research--were essential for democracy, progress, and justice.

So to put the large public system on a clearly inferior resource tier was understood to be economically suboptimal and also unjust.  This was particularly clear in the wake of civil rights movements as economic inequality grew and many K-12 school systems became minority-majority--while generally giving the least funds to districts with the highest shares of Black and brown students.

How are state legislatures doing with keeping public universities in the mix? Here are some charts to show what's happened in California. They come in three sections: UC Core Revenues, the State's Point of View, and What UC Really Has Left.   They track funding from the turn of the century.

1. UC's Core State Revenues

Figure A looks at what's happened to the state's allocation to the University of California.  This is money that generally follows resident students.

In Figure A you'll see 3 lines. The blue line is a benchmark, tracking growth in state per-capita income.  This measures the strength of the economy as it exists in people's pockets.  It goes up 4-5 percent a year most of the time.  If a state wanted to fund an agency in an average way, it would make that agency's revenues rise at the same rate as per-capita income. In this case, the legislature isn't treating it as essential or special, but just letting UC or CSU or public health or transportation grow with the state.

UC enrollment did not stay flat through this period, but increased by about 50 percent. The yellow line takes the per-capita income benchmark and corrects it for actual UC student growth.

The red line tracks the state's actual general fund allocation in nominal dollars, not corrected for inflation.

Figure A: State Funds for UC in Nominal Dollars, Compared to Per-Capita Income Benchmark, and Benchmark Corrected for Enrollment Growth

The story is clear. The state's allocation fell far behind state income growth.

If UC's state funding had kept up with state per-capita income (blue line), its 2019-20 allocation would have been $6.6 billion--not the $3.7 billion it actually got.

If UC's state funding had kept up with this benchmark corrected for 50 percent enrollment growth (yellow line), its current-year allocation would be $10 billion--nearly 3 times more than it received.

Sometimes people explain this low state allocation by saying the state population just doesn't have the money. That's not true.  The state population had the money to spend on UC (or CSU), but spent it elsewhere.  2017-18 was the first year that UC got a higher state allocation than its state allocation in 2001-02 ($3.28 billion).  (2007-08 was the sole exception, at $3.39 billion.)  These nominal dollars don't reflect cumulative inflation, which has been around 46 percent.

In other words, for twenty years, the State of California has gotten all UC enrollment growth and all of its cost increases for free.

On to another chart. Sometimes people say, "well, the whole public sector has been falling behind."  That's also untrue.

 Figure B: Adding California State Budget Growth to Figure A

The purple line is the California state budget (right-hand scale).  State government--health, corrections, transportation, K-12 education, etc--has grown at around the same rate as personal income.  California doesn't have an exceptional government, measured by growth rates.  It has an average-growth government--except for higher education, which state government has pushed well below other agencies.

2. The State's Point of View

State officials will often say that Figures A and B are misleading because they leave out UC's other revenues, especially tuition.  The state has in the past claimed that student tuition is actually state funding.  The more plausible claim is that UC tuition hikes have offset state funding cuts.

In a January 2013 UC Board of Regents meeting, a state official made the point this way:
The possibility of increased funding right now: it doesn't exist. . . .There is no significant amount of money to backfill previous cuts. We've made roughly $900 million in cuts and you've increased fees $1.4 billion dollars. The [fee] increases were disproportionate to the level of disinvestment by the state. 
He was accurately using Department of Finance data to say that UC had $500 million more in gross tuition revenue than the amount of the 2011-12 cut.  The official was state Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez.  Pérez, who helped install the UC tuition freeze, now serves as chair of the UC Board of Regents.

To represent the state's understanding, Figure C adds a green line that represents UC core educational revenues.  These are about a quarter of UC's total budget (no medical centers, auxiliaries, or extramural grant funding ("direct costs").   The main revenue sources are state general funding, but now with various kinds of tuition added in (resident tuition, non-resident supplemental tuition, abbreviated as NRST, which mostly international students, and also the state funds that go to UC via the Cal Grants program that eligible students use to pay some of their tuition.  1/3rd of gross resident tuition is "return-to-aid," meaning thaat it cannot be used as operating revenue because it is converted into financial aid. There's also some indirect cost recovery funds and other bits and bobs that the core uses.  Take a look.

Figure C: UC Gross Core Revenues, Including Various Forms of Student Tuition and Related Funds

The green line is a lot better than the red.  UC gross core revenues grow faster than the income benchmark. Core revenues (mainly state funding plus various tuition streams) do a somewhat decent job of keeping up with enrollment growth at the benchmarked level (the yellow line).

You might be wondering about the widening gap between the yellow and green lines in recent years: it reflects the "surge" of unfunded or underfunded resident students the state forced UC to take to make up for the previous growth in non-resident enrollments.  This is a key source of the deficits many UC campuses were projecting even before the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

So here, it looks like the state has a point. UC's educational core has much better revenues than the state general fund calculation (Figures A and B) suggests.

This does not change the fact that the state has been free-riding for growth and upgrades on students, and also on other UC revenues.

But it looks like UC's gross core revenues have at least kept up with state income growth, and slightly beaten inflation.

3. What UC Really Has Left

Here's the problem with the state's point of view: while it was cutting or eroding the general fund allocation, the state also decided not to pay for lots of other things. The two biggest unfunded costs are (i) capital projects and (ii) that part of total compensation known as the University of California Retirement Program (UCRP).

In contrast to previous practice, UC now has to build its own buildings with a combination of University-based borrowing, private donations, and internal operating revenues.  This is the case both on the campuses and at the medical centers.  The state acknowledged the situation with legislation, AB 94, that allows campuses to use state funding to pay interest on debt.  That isn't additional money, just permission to use existing funds for debt that the state used to pay.  Three familiar symptoms rae chronic student overcrowding, inadequate office and research space, and campus disrepair across the UC system.

The "pension holiday" from 1991-2010 was also a payment holiday for the State of California, which saved many billions of dollars over the years.  The state is the only beneficiary of that ill-advised break that has not started to make payments again.  Thus the employer contribution to UCRP comes out of UC operating funds as well. 

Figure D deducts employer pension costs and capital projects costs from UC's gross core revenues. There are many ways to calculate both, and I tried nearly all that I could think of, in consultation with several other longtime budget observers.  This figure uses a UCOP report (without the underlying data) for UCRP costs (Display XIX-6, p 159).  Capital projects costs were based on campus-by-campus calculations of operating revenues allocated to capital projects in each individual year.  This variant, Figure D, shows the highest net revenues of all the methods, so you should see it as a best case for the state's funding practice.  Watch the green line.

Figure D: UC Net Core Revenues (Core Revenues with Endowment Revenues, minus Employer Share of UCRP Contributions and Campus Funds Used for Capital Projects)

Most of the tuition revenue gains in Figure C are canceled by the state's withdrawal from capital projects and by its non-contribution to pension costs. UC revenues have not kept up with the income benchmark.  In some years, net core educational revenues are close to the flatlined state general fund allocation.

The University of California comes into the Covid crisis with net core educational revenues that are well below historic quality norms.  There's no educational surplus lying around to cut.

 4. The Insufficient Base for 2020-21

The anticipated Covid state cuts would be the fourth major round since 1990. But these would be the first without UC's traditional revenue rescue, large tuition hikes. (Existing UC reserves are a separate matter that are outside my scope here.)

The first time the big cuts came, University of California officials assumed they were a one-time event.  That was 1992-95.  The second time the state cut general fund support for UC and CSU, UC had a plan, which was large tuition increases.  That was 2002-5.  The compact the two systems signed with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, in 2004, didn't just permit tuition increases of 7-10 percent each year, but required them.

The third time state cuts happened, 2008-12, the high tuition plan was in place.  But high tuition didn't make it through the cuts cycle.  The student protests of fall 2011 effectively ended tuition increases on resident undergraduates. Jerry Brown removed Tuition Plan A, tuition hikes on resident undergraduates. UC then refocused on Tuition Plans B and C: increasing non-resident supplemental tuition (NRST), especially by taking more international students, and growing Self-Supporting Graduate Professional Degree Program tuition, where UC academic units create for-profit (mostly masters) programs that can charge high tuition to residents and non-residents alike. The regents capped Tuition Plan B in 2017, and Plan C is unlikely to survive the pandemic.

As you can see in Figure D, UC's net revenues have stagnated for 20 years, have not kept up with the income benchmark, and are far behind enrollment growth.

State cuts and quiet general fund erosion have already lowered UC quality. They have lowered it specifically for the most economically and racially diverse population in California memory.  Sacramento's funding practice gives much less per-student educational funding to today's students-of-color majority than it gave to their majority white predecessors a generation ago--even after we count revenues from tripled in-state tuition.

This losing battle has taken place in a state that has seen one of the most intense accumulations of wealth in recorded history.  We don't expect Google and Apple to support high quality higher ed for all. But we do expect state government to do that.

Any state revenue cuts now will directly cut UC quality again.  This time, the damage may be irreversible.  State government must now reverse the chronic underfunding policy of recent decades. It must keep UC (and CSU) whole for the sake of the state.


Figure E: Version 2 of Figure D--UC Net Core Revenues (Core Revenues with Endowment Revenues, minus Employer Share of UCRP Contributions and Campus Funds Used for Capital Projects)

Many thanks to Minh Hua, the RA with inexhaustible spreadsheet stamina.