Racial crisis at the University of California

If you haven’t heard the recent news from the University of California, you can read about some of it here, here, and here.

This week, on March 4th, educational access activists across the state have called for a “Day of Action” where it is expected many of the California’s UC and Cal State campuses will be effectively shut down due to walkouts.

The issues of affordable and accessible (and safe) public education is one that is dear to me. As a former student of the University of California–and a former representative in both the Graduate Student government there as well as the statewide student government, UCSA–I can honestly say the issues being discussed and fought for right now are as big and as important as it gets in this society. They have been ever-present in student politics of the last 50 years, as California expanded its public education system for the baby boom while taking bold steps to make sure it would never be as good or as affordable for subsequent generations.

Layered onto this funding and educational rights fiasco, are the various instances of campus hate crime sweeping the state. UCSD is but one example. UC Davis experienced an act of vandalism on their LGBT center last week. I’ve heard about less public campus incidents at two other Cal State campuses. Even my own campus had a racially-motivated act of vandalism last week.

While it might seem like these issues are disconnected, they are not. Fundamental to the challenges before us as a society is our ability to create a space in higher education for generations of students who have not had (historically) the opportunity to achieve a college degree. This is not just an about individual opportunity. It is, quite simply, justice. We have a right to education as much as we have a right to eat, to breathe, and I would add, to work.

Education is the one proven way to create meaningful and lasting social change.

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