Students, faculty and staff of the University of California, facing an unprecedented assault on their system’s funding, will be walking out of classes tomorrow, September 24. I’ll be posting more about the walkout soon, and updating during the day tomorrow, but here’s a quick intro:

Last fall’s economic collapse hit American higher education hard, and as the new academic year gets underway its effects are being felt all over the country, but the California budget crisis is in a class by itself.

California’s initiative system, and a state law that bars the legislature from raising taxes without a two-thirds vote, make it almost impossible to fund ordinary expenses in a recession. The state is in a financial free-fall, and political leaders are looking to higher education for revenue.

In the face of this assault, top administrators at the University of California are rolling over.

Last week, UC official released a proposal that would increase the cost of attendance by 15% for the winter term and another 15% in the spring — coming on top of a 9.3% increase approved in May, this would bring in-state fees to more than $11,000 a year.

As UC Berkeley’s student government president has said, “not even during the depression of the 1930’s did student fees rise as suddenly and as much as they are now proposed to rise.” And the attack on higher education isn’t limited to fee increases. California politicians and UC administrators are laying off faculty and staff and cutting employees’ pay while reducing enrollment and increasing class sizes.

Tomorrow’s walkout began as a faculty initiative, and more than a thousand UC professors have signed on, but the protest has been picking up steam among students and non-teaching staff as well. The statewide University of California Student Association has unanimously passed a resolution of support for the walkout, there are two student websites up spreading the word, and folks are sharing news via the #UCWalkout hashtag on Twitter as well.

More to come…