Earlier today, the Regents of the University of California approved a 32% fee increase for UC students. Students are once again being asked to make up for the investment from the state which has declined drastically from the goals stated in the Master Plan. I wasn’t surprised that the fee increase was improved, the amount did surprise me. The most recent increases starting in 2003 were usually between 8-10% (not considering the professional students, e.g., law students).
Students protested outside the Regents meeting. Loud. They set up a tent city and even ocuppied a campus building. I didn’t show up to the meeting or protests, but am in solidarity with the students sitting in and disrupting the meeting.
Instead, I did the nerd thing when it comes to fee increases and re-read the Master Plan (1960), or as we higher education scholars like to call it, the Bible:
The Survey Team believes that the traditional policy of nearly a century of tuition-free higher education is in the best interests of the state and should be continued. The team noted with interest an address given in May, 1958, by President James L. Morrill of the University of Minnesota, who commented as follows on the desire of some organizations and individuals to raise tuition and fees to meet the full operating costs of public institutions of higher education:
This notion is, of course, an incomprehensible repudiation of the whole philosophy of a successful democracy premised upon an educated citizenry. It negates the whole concept of wide-spread educational opportunity made possible by the state university idea. It conceives college training as a personal investment for profit instead of a social investment.
No realistic and unrealizable counter-proposal for some vast new resource for scholarship aid and loans can compensate for a betrayal of the “American Dream” of equal opportunity to which our colleges and universities, both private and public, have been generously and far-sightedly committed. But the proposal persists as some kind of panacea, some kind of release from responsibility from the pocketbook burdens of the cherished American idea and tradition.
It is an incredible proposal to turn back from the world-envied American accomplishment of more than a century.
Although the Survey Team endorses tuition-free education, nevertheless, it believes that students should assume greater responsibility for financing their education by paying fees sufficient to cover the operating costs of services not directly related to instruction. Such services would include laboratory fees, health, intercollegiate athletics, and student activities. Moreover, the team believes that ancillary services such as housing, feeding, and parking, should be entirely self-supporting. (p. 173)