When those UCSD profs asked to shut down the “inferior UCs,” many of my soon-to-be former colleagues scoffed at the notion that UCSD was even worthy of considering itself an elite university (which led to musing on my part as to why it was them, and not our “true elite schools” who were out for blood). Well guess what, guys, some professors from your beloved UC Berkeley (specifically, Robert Cooter and Aaron Edlin, both apparently part of the law school) are out for your blood as well. I mean, what do you expect from an institution that, by presenting itself as “Cal,” clearly still fantasizes for the good old days of 1868 through 1916, where they were the University of California?
Their bloodlust is somewhat different, although their argument begins in the same way:
The University of California remains outstanding. By some rankings, three of its schools are among the top 20 universities in the world. But for how long?
Once again UCSD is allowed up there with the rest of them. Do you know it only because a UC in 1959? It’s not that old.
We also see that same appeal to the private sector, something I didn’t focus on in my previous analyses, but a point of concern for most people in my ex-department:
Across-the-board salary cuts are the simplest way to balance the budget, but they are rarely the best. In the corporate world, smart organizations more often choose layoffs than salary cuts. And with good reason.
You notice that they don’t even feel the need to justify applying corporate logic to the university! This is frightening, and it pretty much completely justifies the humanities grad student’s fear of privatization of the academy.
A crisis is a time to rethink what we do, how we do it and who does it.
This is known as disaster capitalism.
Consider what the proposed salary cuts would mean. With employees paid up to 20% below what peer institutions pay, the best will leave. Yes, even in this recession, the best people will leave for other jobs or retire or switch professions. And those who remain will suffer from low morale.
Actually, I heard a story on the public radio show Marketplace at least a month ago about the number of organizations opting for pay cuts over layoffs because the morale of those who stayed would be lowered by “survival guilt.” According to Cooter and Edlin, UC employees, particularly the faculty (I mean, are they talking about anyone else? Maybe administration), are in fact made of lower moral fiber than the typical corporate employee; lower pay would bring them down, but watching their friends and co-workers lose everything wouldn’t bother them a bit.
Growth has led to bloat at UC. The bloat and bureaucracy stifle creativity and productivity. The bloat is in unproductive workers and unproductive jobs. Many jobs have little to do with our core missions of teaching and research. Within jobs, there is task bloat — mission creep creates too many assignments of little import.
Of course, the five billion dollar question is, who do they consider to be expendable? Obviously, they have no motivation to be anything other than cagey about it, because their hope is that everyone will read this and say, “yeah, I know my job or unit is crucial, but those other guys are just taking up space!” If you are of this mindset, you may find yourself supporting this proposal right up until the moment you realize that it was you who they were able to portray as just “bloat.”
Oh, and I say units because that’s their work-around for canning tenured faculty: axing entire units. Who wants to take bets as to whether these old white (okay, I’m just guessing here) guys are just itching to drop Ethnic Studies, or other such departments?
The Fresno Bee ran an editorial in response to the “close UC Merced” proposal in which they stated that some people in the UC system clearly had a “Lord of the Flies” mentality. One wonders, with equal parts grim amusement and increasing alarm, how many more backstabbing proposals we have to look forward to.