Another Mad March

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

While millions of American college students picked their favorite teams in NCAA basketball pools, thousands of California college students gathered in the state capitol to protest Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget proposals.

The demonstration, observers in the golden state note, paled in comparison to past forays. Moreover, our correspondents indicate, the protest may not have been entirely spontaneous.

“The most significant aspect of the event,” Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters writes, “was the relatively small size of the protest crowd, probably less than half of the estimated 10,000 who turned out a year ago, one of the largest demonstrations ever seen at the Capitol.”

The protestors demonstrated against the governor’s proposed tuition hikes at community colleges. But how much of the protest was initiated by professors rather than rebellious undergrads? Our San Francisco City College (SFCC) correspondent offered us an interesting insight.

“During a recent class,” our source at SFCC writes, “our instructor went around the room handing out copies of a letter from the dean of the Castro Valencia campus.”

“When asked, he said he had been told to distribute them. This letter asked students to help fund a partisan effort to lobby against budget reforms currently being proposed by the governor of California.”

We are finding that the use of students as political operatives, which many parents and their college-age children find inappropriate, is a standard practice throughout the California state university system. Our source at California State University at Sacramento informs us that her professors told undergraduates that they should attend the aforementioned “grassroots demonstration.”

What is the tuition hike at issue? Under Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposal, tuition at community colleges would increase from $18 to $26 per unit. That’s less than my family paid at a bargain-basement university 23 years ago.

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.