Thursday, October 7, 2010

Today's protests

I wasn't able to blog about today's protests at UC Berkeley, in part because the fire alarm in Wheeler Hall went off twice, resulting in my temporary decampment to area caf├ęs. The Daily Cal blogged and tweeted the day's events:
Students, faculty and staff across the nation are gathering on Oct. 7 in defense of public education. After California faced a $24 billion budget gap last year and cut $637 million in funding to the UC system, the university took steps to fill its own funding hole, implementing a furlough program and a 32 percent fee increase for students.

Campuses across the system made their own cuts, the impacts of which are still being felt this year. And with the announcement that UC Berkeley will cut some 200 positions in January, a freeze in faculty hiring, a proposal to develop online courses at the UC, a rise in out-of-state student enrollment and the elimination of four intercollegiate athletic teams this year, protesters say they still have much to rally about in regards to the changing nature of the university and public education as a whole.

Speaking of public education as a whole, let's not forget about SUNY Albany's decision to phase out Italian, French, Russian, Classics, and Theater, which Roland recently blogged about.

On Tuesday there will be a public forum on law school dean Chris Edley's proposal for a UC cybercampus, a proposal that, when I first heard it last year, I fully thought was a parody or a joke. Evidently, not only was Edley serious, but UC admin is taking his suggestion seriously.

That's not to say that there's no such thing as a good online course, or a good course with online components. But developing and maintaining such a thing is difficult and time-consuming, and depends on serious pedagogical and intellectual decisions. There are people out there thinking online education through in very interesting ways (Cathy Davidson, most prominently, but also Kiri Miller, among others)--it's called research. If only Dean Edley had heard of it. There's so much wrong with this whole online campus idea that I'm going to stop writing now to prevent my blood pressure from spiking.

It's about 6:30 and the sun is setting. Now that there are no fire alarms going off in Wheeler Hall, I can hear the sound of either students or hippies, or possibly both, out drumming in Sproul Plaza. Doe Library is still occupied.

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