UC Irvine Faculty, Students, Staff to Teach In, Turn On, Walk Out Today

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Ah, the first day of school. Time to roll out of the dorm-room bed five minutes before class, throw a cap on to cover up the bed head and quickly jaunt to class . . .

. . . So you can storm out of it in protest.

UC Irvine faculty, students and staff will stage a walkout today--the first day of school--to protest budget cuts to the state's higher education institutions.

Information about the day's activities have spread like a canyon fire.
A daylong picket line is to form at the Aldrich Park flagpoles at the center of campus at 6 a.m. and continue through until 5 p.m. This will be done in support of the University Professional and Technical Employees union.

The arts plaza will be the site of an "interactive drama" from 9 to 10 a.m.

From 9 a.m. to noon, classes throughout campus will hold teach-ins about the state budget situation. That's prompted some question on the UCI walkout's Facebook page, which boasts 2,035 members. The explanation?

A teach-in means that the class will meet but rather than discussing the content of the course the instructor will talk about the UC budget situation. All the professors that I know of are planning on doing teach-ins so you should plan on attending and thus should not have to worry about attendance. If a professor chooses not to show up to class then they will obviously not be taking attendance to see if people are there on the first day. Any decision to drop a student from a class for not attending on the first day would be made by a professor and no one participating in the walkout is planning on dropping students simply because no professor showed up.

At noon, a campus rally will be held at the flagpoles. There will be speeches from those representing students, faculty and staff.

"This is our major event of the day where we hope for a large crowd!" say organizers. "If there is only one event you can make on 9/24/09, this should be your priority."

Another rally runs from 2 to 3 p.m. in the Social Science Plaza will follow from 2 to 3 p.m., and evening teach-ins will be held in Humanities Gateway 1010 from 5 to 7 p.m.

The day of dissent follows UC President Mark Yudof recommending a 15 percent increase in in-state undergraduate fees that would take effect next spring, and another 15 percent increase on top of that beginning in fall 2010.

"These fee increases would represent an almost 50% tuition increase since 2007 and they cannot be tolerated," say walkout organizers. "These decisions fundamentally compromise the mission of the University of California. They are complicit with the privatization of public education, and they have been made in a manner that flouts the principle of shared governance."

Furloughs, salary reductions and budget cuts have been opposed by the University of California Student Association, which represents the 225,000 students of the University of California, and the Radical Student Union, both of which encourage participation in the UC system-wide walkout today.

The online UC Faculty Walkout page goes into great detail about the shady, secret and dictatorial ways the budget moves were implemented.

"Under the cover of the summer months, UC administration has pushed through a program of tuition hikes, enrollment cuts, layoffs, furloughs, and increased class sizes that harms students and jeopardizes the livelihoods of the most vulnerable university employees," states the page's introuction. "These decisions fundamentally compromise the mission of the University of California. They are complicit with the privatization of public education, and they have been made in a manner that flouts the principle of shared governance at the core of the UC faculty's capacity to guide the future of the University in accordance with its mission."

Included there are the names and titles of 1,178 UC faculty members who have signed an open letter critical of the budget moves. Among the signees from UCI are: Etienne Balibar, distinguished professor of humanities; Lamar Hill, professor emeritus of history; Mark LeVine, professor of history; Douglas-Scott Goheen, professor emeritus of drama; Dr. Kenneth W. Dumas, professor emeritus of pediatrics; and Jack Miles, a distinguished professor of English and Religious Studies.

The first signature on the list belongs to a former member of the UCI faculty, controversial scholar Mike Davis, who is a distinguished professor of creative writing at UC Riverside and the author of City of Quartz, Ecology of Fear and In Praise of Barbarians: Essays Against Empire.
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