Aggregating old content. This was written for a national audience for the political journal Against the Current; it was originally written in January, but it was published in the beginning of March.

PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES IN California during Fall 2009 saw the eruption of a movement to defend public education — and more broadly, public services and goods — from an onslaught of cuts and fee hikes in the wake of the 2008-09 economic downturn and federal and state budget cuts.

In many ways, the situation affecting California public universities is not new; the crisis is rooted in contradictions at play since the 1970s. Activists particularly at smaller, “non-flagship” campuses have used terms like “neoliberalization,” “privatization” and “corporatization” to describe what’s happening in their universities for several years.

Now the global economic downturn and the state fiscal crunch, combined with funding and restructuring priorities within the university systems themselves, have created a perfect storm that generalized and intensified at least three major dynamics: austerity (budget cuts, leading to worker furloughs and program cuts), decreased access (fee hikes, lower enrollment, and less availability of classes), and privatization (the public university’s increased reliance on student fees, private donations, and bonds for operation and expansion — and the effect this has on educational priorities).

Read the rest on the ATC website.

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