As part of a 2012-2013 budget proposal sure to satisfy parents of college students, Gov. Jerry Brown has recently worked with Democratic leaders to guarantee to hold tuition rates flat for both the UC and CSU systems over the course of this year and the next. This guarantee comes on the heels of initiatives to cut state spending and reduce the state’s $15.7 billion deficit. The proposal will cost the state $125 million for each system and is contingent upon Brown’s November ballot measure to raise state taxes to account for the shortcomings.
For taxpayers, this decision has mixed implications. Most considerably is the notion as to whether it is appropriate for Californians to bare the brunt of higher taxes that could have otherwise been alleviated by raising tuition at state funded universities. Of course, adding to the growing November list of tax burdens wouldn’t be a surprise, either. California’s financial history is infamous across the nation as a state that spends more than it has, many times for reasons that would be deemed imprudent. But when presented with the opportunity to prevent student tuition hikes via taxes, a defense of the proposal would appear to be justified. Or at least, that’s what any good politician would have you believe.
But looking back upon this past school year, it’s hard to forget the plethora or rallies, riots, and rebellions that occurred on the various campuses of the UC and CSU systems in response to regents raising tuitions and cutting budgets during the 2011-2012 year. From the reports of police brutality up at UC Berkeley, to the infamous pepper spraying incident at UC Davis, students have had their say and suffered the consequences. The resulting tuition freeze guarantee almost seems like a measure too good to be true after what would seem like irreconcilable friction between short term student interests and long term university sustainability.
Still, whether for political reasons or for true economic efficiency, Gov. Brown’s proposal seems to have rewarded students for their civil disobedience. It is hard to imagine any other era when such student discourse was permissable,
and even harder to fathom whether the students actually deserve their reward. Much like any other product or service, the California university system is a good subject to those that buy it, and for those that do not the additional tax burden would be unwarranted. And while not everyone is lucky enough to attend institutions of higher learning, it speaks volumes when students protest against raising the price of a good they believe they are already entitled to. Today’s youth stands at odds to anything historically seen in the U.S. They are immersed in a realm where access to technology and social media is a standard, higher education is a necessity to be a productive member of society, and good fortune is mistaken for legitimate success. All things considered, the youth of today are characterized by more notions of entitlement than ever before, and given the variety of policies and disciplinary measures enacted upon them, you really can’t blame them. If every state wide protest resulted in some demand that was met, this would be akin to a tantrum throwing baby getting his or her wish every time he or she acted up — the point being that if elected and appointed officials are actually going to start taking California’s problems seriously, they should stop giving into the demands of those whose interests are contrary to the state, even if they do take a college campus hostage.