As of November of last year, the UC Regents agreed to raise tuition prices over $10,000, a 32% increase to the already expensive price for higher education. I’ve attached a picture that shows the progression of tuition costs over the years; an image quite striking and alarming. Many students and teachers acted out against the fee hike in several protests and demonstrations most notable: the March 4th protest. The October 7th “Day of Action” was another chance for activists to show their support in the fight for public education. The UC system prides itself on being a group of schools that are affordable and accessible to all who want it. However, it is this very increase in tuition that is driving underprivileged minorities out of the UC system.
With the end of affirmative action in the public education system, a specific number of minorities were no longer guaranteed into college. Being part of the Pilipino community here at Cal, I am constantly reminded of our diminishing number and underrepresentation in the greater Berkeley campus. Only a mere 2.9% of the Berkeley population, many of us protested to fight against our dwindling numbers in solidarity with the other minority groups on campus. RAZA, the Chicano/Latino space for recruitment and retention is also seeing a diminishing number in their community. Most unsettling (and perhaps most relevant to our course) is the vanishing number of 0.1% Native Americans represented on campus. The Native American Recruitment and Retention Center is rumored to have a lonely 3 members.
The Pilipino Community made demands during the rally in support of their minority counterparts. The increase in the tuition is making it too expensive for future minorities to make it into the UC system. The people are becoming less diverse and more elite and privileged folk. I admit that I was lucky and privileged to be able to afford the tuition increase but I sympathize with the many that are forced to take out more loans, find more work, and try to graduate early all because of the increasing tuition prices. The demands were simple: expansion of the ethnic studies program at UC Berkeley, and more visibility and representation in our cultures and
I admit, the rally overall was uncoordinated and not very effective. I think I’m only aware of the issues because I chose to be a part of this space, and the struggles of minorities on campus aren’t successfully publicized. The Day of Action was merely an attempt to do something about the issues that need to be addressed, unfortunately in a manner that was unable to reach out to everyone.