Yesterday, we told you that big tuition hikes could be coming to schools in the University of California system. But we didn’t know that Berkeley students had a plan to do something about it. They’re going out on strike! With university workers who want a raise! Or something!
Hey, it’s the Berkeley way. When they are pissed about something, they protest. It’s better than the Harvard way; when we’re pissed about something, we ask Daddy to fire somebody.
[Yale way = invite SCOTUS justice to speak about the issue, ask justice only clerkship application questions. UT way = shoot it. NYU way = wait to see how Columbia handles the problem. I could go on and on.]
The protest was scheduled for today. Those hardcore Berkeley students were even asking professors to reschedule classes so more people could participate in the strike.
(Wait for it)
Yes, you read that correctly. Students wanted to strike, but didn’t want to risk missing class.
After the jump, the Berkeley law blog, Nuts & Boalts explains the problems with this plan:
Does it make sense for students to hold a protest over high tuition alongside university workers who want more money? No, no it does not. As Nuts & Boalts explains:
1. Students are “striking” because they don’t want their fees increased while workers are striking because they aren’t getting paid. Seems to me that those two groups are each others enemies, not comrades.
2. Students, as consumers of a service, cannot “strike.” They could boycott or withdraw, but they can’t strike. That would be like me claiming I’m on strike from Best Buy when I don’t buy something from there.
3. They are protesting in Berkeley; the decisions are made in Sacramento. Wrong forum.
4. They are protesting at construction sites around campus. Why? Because they want the university to breach contracts and instead pay out for work without having it completed.
5. The state is many billions of dollars in debt. Does no one think that might have something to do with the financial situation surrounding the UC system?
That seems like a pretty good argument to me. But one of the strike organizers wrote an open letter explaining:
*The “Strike” is Not Ironic*
You can download the full document at Nuts & Boalts. But let me point you to one brilliant paragraph from this letter:
Dean Hirshenʼs memo does point towards a question regarding how we, as a community, should measure ourselves. It also speaks to a conversation that should be taking place in the sunlight, rather than remaining the unspoken but omnipresent message undergirding the Administrationʼs response to student interest and action. It appears that Boaltʼs administration wishes to remake Berkeley Law in the image of an elite private law school. But this sort of fundamental and philosophical shift should not be undertaken lightly, nor should it be forced upon students through tuition increases. It
is not only possible, but also in fact probable, that this student body would rather attend the #1 public law school in America than the #6 private law school. Perhaps our choice to come here was not merely premised on Berkeley Lawʼs ranking in a national magazine, but rather on our universityʼs historic and capacious commitment to issues of social justice, engagement with the local and global community, and willingness to
encourage students to question and challenge the status quo.
You know what? I need more unspoken but omnipresent messages girding my posts. Let me try one now.
Yeah, feel that bitches.
Sorry Berkeley student protesters, but you guys have a real problem here. If you went to law school because of “our university’s historic and capacious commitment to issues of social justice, engagement with the local and global community … ” and whatever, then you went to law school for the wrong reasons. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you should have gotten a Ph.D. if you wanted to question and challenge the status quo. Law school is a professional school, people go there to learn a skill and (hopefully) get a job.
In a way, your beliefs have a lot to do with why you find yourself in the ruinous economic situation you are trying to protest. When law schools get away from their core competencies (training lawyers) and devolve into questions and challenges, they end up graduating people with limited marketable legal skills and a mountain of debt. But more lemmings sign up for law school, the legal economy be damned, because they think law school is about a “capacious commitment to issues of social justice,” whatever the hell that means.
Don’t get me wrong. You current students are getting rogered but good. You should be angry, you should be protesting. But, remember, nobody is forcing you to pay these higher prices. You could leave. There’s no sense in throwing good money after bad. If you feel law school isn’t the right choice, trust me, putting in 7,000 hours for three years reviewing documents while trying to pay down your debt isn’t going to make you feel any better.
Strike! (Or, Three Strikes? You’re Out) [Nuts & Boalts]
Earlier: Law School Tuition Hikes Spread Like Wildfires in California