Today the Academic Senate met at Stevenson Event Center. Most of the faculty and administrators in attendance were white men and women. The meeting opened with an address by Blumenthal in which he expressed his desire to retain UCSC’s academic mission in light of this new budget climate. He placed emphasis on a return to UCSC’s core principles. He shared that the UCSC must sustain the quality of service through a carefully managed budget. He expressed his desire to improve the University, particularly the revenue it generates.
EVC Galloway followed, echoing Blumenthal, yet in greater detail about the nature of these cuts and the necessary institutional responses to maintain quality. For example Galloway shared that within the past two years the cuts to Academics at the university has gone from 16.2% to 29.2%. The cuts to the institution, have gone from 15.2% to 26.3%. Notice the enormous increase in just over two years. Also note the disparity between institutional cuts and academic cuts. The gap has widened where as the difference between the two has increased by 2.9%, ultimately imposing the tension of these cuts on the students and faculty. In what sense does this maintain the quality of our education?
It is comments like these that reflect the delusions of the administration and the broader University. The rhetoric of administrators like Blumenthal follows a pattern of nostalgia, underscored by a fear of change,: “retain the academic mission”, “sustain quality”, and “return to core principles”. These patterns of nostalgia are informed by the delusion that UCSC historically has been a university for everyone. It must be made clear to Mr. Blumenthal and administrators alike that these are delusions because:
To retain the academic mission would be to maintain the processes that have historically marginalized non-western students.
To sustain the current level of quality would be to accept the universities definition of quality, which historically has been the bare minimum of resources for non-western students.
To return to core principles would be to revert to the very principles that exclude and oppress non-western students.
This is a primary example of the disconnect between administrators and academic actors (students, grads, faculty). The great divide between the stockholders and the stakeholders is that the stockholders do not represent interests, consciousness, or lived experiences of the student and especially the non-western student. Yet the university maintains that there is the presence of a democracy and most certainly representation of non-western students.
In this same respect the Academic Senate operates in a fashion that only reaffirms these delusions. To be clear, the academic senate “operates as a legislative body and as a system of faculty committees. UC has a dual-track system of authority and responsibility which presumes that faculty are best qualified to chart the University’s educational course, while the administrators are most competent to direct its finances and organization.” Essentially this means that the University makes decisions through administrators and faculty about students with minimal input from students. The minimal input takes the form of marginalized locations of representation like the Student Union Assembly, College Government, and other miscellaneous student positions that have been carved out so that the University may claim it sufficiently represents students. The proceedings were an expression of the limits of the Academic Senate and extremely telling of the delusions that exist within the senate. Delusions in the sense that the proceedings are believed to be democratic and representative yet are facilitated and maintained by mostly white men and women. These delusions are affirmed by comments from people like EVC Galloway who stated that the Academic Senate is not a collection of administrators but “a reflection of the UCSC community.” Faculty members furthered this sentiment by claiming that the senate is “the mechanism of change” for the University.
If the senate is truly a mechanism of change, I ask what kind of change? How can UCSC better serve the people of California, who are predominantly non-western people, if the decisions made within the university do not come from the lived experiences of those people? In what sense is this representative or democratic? How will the university ever sufficiently provide for students of color if it maintains this relationship? In closing I would like to express that legislative bodies and other institutional processes like the Academic Senate should be compared to a democratic framework that assesses the limits of these processes and ultimately makes progress to further democratize decision-making. The current structure of the University does not reflect a democratic framework and thus should be radically re-oriented to represent the interests of the people the University is meant to serve. We demand an Ethnic Studies College now!