This is a great way to channel political analysis. The bear’s monotone voices really reduce the emotional tensions that humans usually have when communicating politically charged ideas. I have been thinking about why the UC Administrators are interested in building more buildings for million dollar investors (such as the sports pavilion), accepting more out of state students because of the tuition they would bring in and also Bob Samuel’s recent article about the desire to hire more “star” professors. Their reasoning are because these moves will ensure income for the university because state funding for “public” schools have gone kapoot. They are thinking about attracting capital so that the university can be more economically self-reliant. But as you say, how can they be so sure that relying on these capital forces ensure that the quality of education be protected? To them, quality is the material aspects. They need to expand through buildings to bring in more bodies into the school. They need to accept wealthier out of state students who don’t need financial aid. Another thing we need to think about are the international students coming from Asia and Middle East, that have rising middle and elite classes because their economies have boomed and are industrializing. I don’t think the discourse of in-state versus out-state student bodies should create polarization because what is happening is that the university is responding to the forces of globalization which has changed the economic conditions of foreign countries to “catch up” to the likeness of America. Many of the rich countries in Asia, such as Korea, Japan and China are sending students to top schools in the U.S. so that they can be educated here and build up their countries, using the knowledge they gained here. This is a phenomenon that happened since the turn of the 20th century, bringing in elites from foreign countries, educating them in western economics, politics, law, public administration, health systems, etcetera, so that they would be the builders of a “modern” state in their own country. However, the modern state means a more capitalist state, a more American looking state, where young generations are being taught to know how to desire and work for corporations like McDonalds, versus protecting and preserving their native food traditions and land practices. There is something going on about people’s subjectivities in the sense that progress looks like going to top American schools, such as UCLA, Stanford, Yale, Harvard. The UCLA administrators or playing and promoting this image of themselves at a global scale in order to attract bodies (students) to pay back their investments they are putting in now. This also plays into the “star system” of professors. The value of professors are being judged according to the number of publications they have in top journals, or who have well-known books that become knowledge commodities. The ranking of professors according to their output determines who is a “star” and who isn’t. The value placed on textual output versus action-oriented or audience-oriented impact allows professor’s knowledge to be tracked and commoditized. Those who publish more get more rewards, visiting professorships, tenure, higher salaries, because administrators think that the circulation of their ideas–in text–is seen as their ticket for the university to get the attention of more textually reading, educated, elite classes, industries, etc. Therefore, the star-professors are needed in order to promote the capital investment of the university today.
But I feel that to resist, there is a need to work at a subjective, symbolic and cross-cultural level in order to capture the imagination of the student body. Students, from whatever background, come to the university to get educated, to ensure their ticket to a job. But students also know there are lots of fucked up shit happening in the world from war, to climate change, to poverty, to unemployment. I’m not sure about how to get to the student body who are adamant about maintaining class and race power. That will have to take the 99% to help them realize they are a minority. But the 99% of conscience bearing students, who want to integrate their analysis of issues into the world into their education, need some kind of university movement that helps them realize those connections, and how they can actualize radical political ideas as they are getting an education and training. I am for the idea of protest. I am for the idea of protesting and withdrawing from the university as long as we are still able to think and create another educational system as we have withdrawn. I am for the idea of creating funnels between the university spaces that engages students to engage with worlds outside of the confused bubble of the university. If it means graduate students teaching activist courses and creating curriculum to help students dispel their romantic ideas of western educational models and discourses of progress, and connecting students to movements in and outside of the university to connect them to tangible networks of transformative action, then I’m for protest. I look forward to the General Assembly!
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UCLA Fights Back