So students are protesting big tuition increases at University of California campuses all over the state, hoisting placards, occupying administrative offices (most vigorously at Berkeley and Santa Cruz, naturally) and shouting out rhymed chants, like “Fee hike! We strike!”
First, at least they’re protesting something more significant than alcohol restrictions.
Second, their anger is misdirected. The fee hikes aren’t the fault of university administrators, or even the state Board of Regents. Instead they should blame the dumb state legislators, doing the bidding of the dumb citizens of California (aka their parents), who have shown themselves to be unwilling to be taxed a reasonable amount of money to pay for services, most notably education.
Third, the tuition fee they will be asked to pay, even after the proposed 32 percent increase, aren’t that shockingly high. It has been estimated at $10,000—note that is the sticker price, paid only by students who get no financial aid. That is far far below the $40,000 charged by the top private universities, and in the middle range of what in-state students across the country pay at flagship state universities. According to figures compiled by Paul Fain for his New York Times article a couple of weeks back, these range from $3425 at the University of Tennessee to $13,554 at the University of Vermont.
When the California system got started in 1960, tuition was free. That was a noble dream at the time. At this point, it would be a fantasy, barely visible through the mists of time.