Seven months after nationwide actions against budget cuts and tuition hikes on March 4th, the National Day to Defend Public Education, the struggle continues. The economic crisis has resulted in the university’s crisis of priorities and the students are fighting back.

The Board of Trustees raised in-state tuition by 24% in the past year and they want to lift the cap on tuition increases, while over four thousand class sections have been cut since 2007.  Over 300 facilities workers have been laid off, yet nine levels of management supervision remain. Our situation at UNC-CH is just one example of downward trends across the country in public education.

Another day of national action has been planned for October 7th.

Women, and especially women of color, have historically been denied access to public education and continue to be marginalized in various academic departments, such as the Sciences.  UNC-CH undergraduate studies were desegregated in 1955, but the first African-American woman did not attend the university until 1963.

Academic departments focused on women, people of color, and LGBTQ folks feel the effects of budgets cuts disproportionately.  Centers that serve women and other oppressed groups such as the Women’s Center and the American Indian Center are the first to have their budget slashed when cuts are made. While at UNC-CH the “average” budget cut to the hardest-hit centers was 17%, the total cut for the Carolina Women’s Center was 25%.

Housekeepers, a workforce that is comprised overwhelmingly of women of color, continue to be fired and laid off, despite the fact that Bain and Co. found that UNC needs to hire more housekeepers.  The workers who remain take on an increased workload but receive no subsequent increase in pay, and administrators enact dehumanizing rules such as the no-sitting policies which infantalizes these workers and puts their health at risk all in the name of increased efficiency.

While housekeepers are paid the lowest salaries, administrators’ salaries continue to increase. Chancellor Thorp makes $420,000 per year (15 times that of the average housekeeper and 11 times that of the median North Carolina household income) and a committee of the UNC system’s governing board suggested that the new UNC system president Tom Ross — the eighth white man to assume the position — should make $550,000 a year, a 15% increase from Bowles’ salary.

As feminists, we will not stand idly by as sexism, heterosexism, racism and capitalism work to dismantle the public education that students fought hard to access and improve.  Join us on October 7th to defend public education at 3pm at the State Capitol building in Raleigh where we will rally and march with groups from across the state.

Advertisements