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When incoming Cal State system chancellor Timothy P. White takes office at the end of the year, he’ll be making about $40,000 less than his predecessor.

That’s because White, in a letter to the CSU trustees, requested a 10% pay cut as his contribution to balancing the system’s books.

White’s salary reduction doesn’t apply to other top administrators in the CSU system, of course, and amounts to just one fifty-thousandth of the system’s state appropriations for the coming year, so assessing whether it’s a worthy step in the right direction of a meaningless bit of PR work is left as an exercise for the reader.

Here’s another stat worth contemplating, though: The pay cut took White from a salary amounting to 105% of that of the President of the United States to one amounting to 95% of the president’s.

In fairness, though, POTUS does have a nicer airplane.

In a post-election conference call with supporters yesterday, Mitt Romney blamed much of his loss on the youth vote, and blamed youth support for Obama on the president’s dastardly trick of taking stances that young people approve of.

From the Boston Globe:

“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift,” he said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people … in addition, with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”

 Setting aside the fact there was no Obama program of “free contraceptives,” and his ugly little “illegals” swipe, what Romney is actually saying here is that Obama won the youth vote by figuring out what policies would make young people’s lives better, and then enacting some of those policies.

It’s diabolical, really.

The student government at the University of California at Irvine last night voted unanimously to divest itself of investments in companies that support the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, and to urge the UC Irvine administration to do the same.

The resolution, titled “Divestment from Companies that Profit from Apartheid,” is the second such policy to be adopted by a UC student government in recent years. (A similar resolution at Berkeley was passed, and then rescinded, amid intense media attention in 2010.) It passed by a vote of 16-0, with no abstentions.

The student government’s vote is unlikely to have any immediate practical effect. There is no indication that the UCI student government has any investments in corporations supporting the Israeli occupation, and UC administrators have stated that they have no intention of considering any such divestment on an institutional scale. But it is likely to revive discussion of Israel divestment on American campuses.

Irvine’s resolution draws explicit parallels not only between Israeli policies and South African apartheid, but also between the current campaign and American students’ past organizing for South African divestment. “As the example of South Africa shows,” the resolution declares, “it is imperative for students to stand unequivocally against all forms of racism and bigotry globally and on campus, including but not limited to Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia, patriarchy, and Israel’s system of apartheid.”

Unlike anti-apartheid campaigns, which targeted any companies doing business in South Africa, last night’s resolution does not call for full divestment from Israel. Instead it calls on UCI to end ties with companies that “provide military support for, or weaponry to support the occupation of the Palestinian territory,” those which are involved in “the building or maintenance of the illegal wall or the demolition of Palestinian homes,” and those which “facilitate the building, maintenance, or economic development of illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory.”

The resolution names eight companies meeting one or more of those criteria in which it claims UCI invests — Caterpillar, Cement Roadstones Holding, Cemex, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Raytheon, Sodastream, and L-3 Communications.

In 2010 UC Irvine suspended its Muslim Student Union in the wake of the disruption of a campus speech by the Israeli Ambassador. Ten Muslim students were subsequently convicted of misdemeanor charges in connection with that incident.

Just last week an Israeli news website described UC Irvine as “a hotbed of pro-Israel activity,” by the way.

A Florida education task force established by Governor Rick Scott is recommending that students at the state’s public colleges and universities be charged extra for majoring in subjects that the state considers unattractive for employers.

Under the proposal, state lawmakers would draw up a list of “high-skill, high-wage, high-demand” undergraduate majors, and tuition in those fields would be frozen for three years. If state funding did not replace the revenue lost due to the targeted tuition freeze, colleges would be free to raise tuition in other specific disciplines to make up the gap.

In addition to the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the report identified degree programs in “Globalization … Health Professions … Education-critical (math, science) … and Security and Emergency Services” as meeting its criteria for the tuition freeze. According to the report, 37% of Florida’s state university degrees are currently awarded in these fields, which means that any statewide tuition hike would have to be 58% higher to provide equivalent revenue while excluding those students.

 

The passage of Proposition 30 in California last Tuesday saved the state’s three public higher education systems from devastation, providing funding to forestall huge tuition increases and enrollment cuts. Young voters made the difference in that vote, amounting to nearly a third of the electorate and supporting Prop 30 by a two-to-one margin.

But the struggle over college accessibility in California is far from over, as new proposed fees at Cal State demonstrate.

On Thursday, Cal State administrators unveiled three new fees for CSU students, intended — in the LA Times‘s gloss — “not primarily to generate revenue but to change student behaviors.” But those “student behaviors,” as the Times goes on to make clear, are only even arguably problematic because the system is so badly underfunded.

Here’s what’s up:

First, Cal State wants to charge a $372 per unit (“credit,” for non Californians) to super-seniors who have already taken more than 150-160 units worth of classes. This fee would raise tuition for super-seniors by more than $10,000 a year, bumping in-state students up to the same tuition rate as out-of-staters.

Second, they’re looking to impose a $91 per-unit fee on students who repeat classes, which they estimate is happening at a rate of about 40,000 times a semester, system wide.

And finally, they’re proposing a $182 per-unit fee on courseloads above 18 units. (This would amount to a $3640 surcharge on a 20-unit semester.)

Cal State claims that the practices they’re targeting are clogging up the system — because students are lingering beyond graduation eligibility, retaking favored classes, and overloading their schedules so they can drop courses later, they say, some 18,000 applicants a year are being turned away.

But thanks to budget cuts, students are regularly shut out of courses they need for their majors, and forced to fill up their schedules with electives to maintain financial aid eligibility. Cal State already bans students who have received a grade of C or better in a course from taking it again. And of course many students who sign up for heavy courseloads are doing it not so they can drop classes later, but so they can finish more quickly — in most cases, at least in part, as a way of saving tuition money.

And even if this weren’t the case, the student who changes majors in their senior year, the student who retakes a course to master the material, the student who adds an extra class to have a safety valve if one doesn’t pan out — these students should not be punished. All these “behaviors” are a legitimate, healthy, even commendable part of the college experience.

As the Sacramento Bee editorialized yesterday, this is outrageous. The Cal State trustees have the opportunity to reject these fees when they meet tomorrow.

They should.

Tuesday Update | Well, the trustees didn’t reject the fee proposals, but they’re not adopting them either — at least not yet. According to a statement from the CSU chancellor, the proposals have been removed from the agenda of today’s meeting and will “be reviewed at a later date after Trustees gather additional information and input from stakeholders.”

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

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