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Louisiana State University has one reason to be pleased about yesterday’s 21-0 loss to Alabama in the BCS championship game — the defeat saved the school from a six million dollar outlay.

LSU football coach Les Miles made $3.75 million in salary this year, plus another $400,000 in bonuses for winning the SEC championship and qualifying for the BCS. But he missed a huge payday by losing yesterday, since his contract has a clause guaranteeing him an automatic salary hike to $1,000 more than the highest-paid public university coach in the SEC if he ever wins a national championship.

That highest paid coach happens to be Alabama’s Nick Saban, who made $4.7 million this year (plus $400,000 for beating LSU yesterday). Over the six years remaining on Miles’s contract, that bump would have worked out to exactly $5,706,000.

The LSU system raised tuition some $14 million this year, with plans for another $38 million in 2012-13. Miles’s salary hike would have amounted to $40 per student per year.


“Student fees in state universities are usually confined to minor charges for matriculation, gymnasium, laboratory materials, and breakages, etc., which rarely amount to more than $50 a year for undergraduates. With the exception of Vermont none of the institutions in this group charges a regular tuition fee to residents of their respective states except in the professional departments, and in a few cases in engineering colleges. … The total revenue from student fees in 1910-1911, excluding board and rental of rooms, exceeded $100,000 in only six of the state universities — California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin, Michigan leading with $339,000. … The University of Washington, with half as many students as Michigan, but with only 277 professional students out of 2142, received from student fees $15,000. In contrast to these figures of the revenues from student fees, should be placed those of Harvard, $651,000, Chicago, $581,000, and Columbia, including the Teacher’s College and Summer School, $1,164,000.”

A Cyclopedia of Education, edited by Paul Monroe, 1913.

Today is the first day of classes for most of the University of California system, and student activists at UC Berkeley are marking the day with their first student protests of 2011-12.

UC generally, and Berkeley in particular, have been a center of American student organizing in the last few years, though administrative crackdowns have quieted the campuses somewhat in the last twelve months. With the summer announcement of new tuition hike proposals that could nearly double UC fees in the next four years, however, things may be due to heat up again.

The organizers of today’s protest announced their agenda in a Daily Cal op-ed earlier this week, and the paper is planning a liveblog of the day’s events. Activists have already started livetweeting the day at the #Day1 hashtag.

I’ll be away from my computer for most of the afternoon (Eastern Time), but I’ll try to update as events warrant, either here or on Twitter. And with UC back in session, I’ll be posting updates on several big stories from the summer in the very near future, so stay tuned.

The leadership of the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) has announced a Sunday lockout of SFSS’s union employees, after two years of unsuccessful contract negotiations. Unless an agreement is reached by tomorrow afternoon, CUPE local 3338’s twenty employees will be barred from working their jobs.

Unsurprisingly, the two sides characterize the state of negotiations differently, with CUPE arguing that SFSS is demanding “dramatic wage rollbacks and cuts to staffing levels,” while SFSS president Jeff McCann says that the student society is asking for a 12% average pay cut, with about a quarter of that loss to be restored over the course of the new contract. (Edit: see comments for more details on the proposed cuts.)

Activists claim that this move is ideologically motivated, noting that newly-elected SFSS leaders announced the lockout simultaneously with an effort to evict the Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group (SFPIRG) from student-owned offices.

I’ll be following this story as it develops, but I think one element that hasn’t yet received much attention is worth emphasizing — the timing of the lockout.

Now, I don’t know anything about what triggered this particular decision. It’s possible that there’s a compelling reason why this had to happen now. But as I’ve written many times before, summer is the season when university administrators traditionally launch their most obnoxious initiatives, on the premise that there aren’t any students around to object. If you want to pave a community garden, or eliminate a department, or create a new parking fee, or whatever, summer’s the time to do it.

Like I say, I don’t know why SFSS acted when it did. Maybe they had a good reason. But if they timed this lockout — and the SFPIRG eviction — to take place in July because they knew that their student opponents wouldn’t be able to mobilize … well, that’s just punk. It’s anti-democratic, and it’s anti-student. It’s wrong.

This story is the best short introduction I’ve yet seen to the “New Badger Partnership” — University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin’s proposal to split Madison, the UW flagship, off from the rest of the University of Wisconsin system.

Martin’s plan, negotiated in secret with Wisconsin’s new union-busting governor Scott Walker, would lop $125 million off of UW Madison’s budget, but give it far more operational flexibility on issues ranging from how to spend state money to how much to charge for tuition. The plan, opponents say, is a recipe for privatization of one of the nation’s great public universities.

The plan needs to be approved by the Wisconsin state legislature, and the prospects of that seem have dimmed recently — battles over the state budget and collective bargaining have battered the governor’s standing in the state, and it’s not clear that his party has the stomach for another big fight. Opposition to the plan from the university’s system-wide board of regents is a further barrier to its adoption.

But even if the plan is dropped from the current budget, it’s sure to return in the future, and its prospects are being watched closely by higher education advocates and analysts all over the country. At a time when the principles that have governed public higher education in the United States for generations are increasingly under fire, the fate of the University of Wisconsin is sure to have implications from New York to California and beyond.

Students who oppose the New Badger Partnership will be holding a mock auction of Bascom Hall, the UW Madison administration building, this afternoon, with more actions planned for the rest of the week. I’ll be following the story here, so keep checking back.

About This Blog

n7772graysmall is the work of Angus Johnston, a historian and advocate of American student organizing.

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