About that time I paid $80 to attend UCLA

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flickr: stopnlook's

Yesterday, I went to my old alma mater UCLA to check out student activism 40 years after I graduated. Living in L.A., it's not as if I hadn't been on campus in all that time, because I had gotten a masters degree in education there about 5 years ago that was paid for by the State of California.

What drew me to the campus was disbelief in the notion that the Regents were on the verge of raising the tuition by another 32% in addition to the 9% they had already raised it in May of this year. Was the promise of my youth that all students who did well in high school would have access to a great public education finally dead?

For the last year, I have been trying to build this website to create a virtual commons in the spirit of the 1st Amendment Freedom of Association, where those interested in finally confronting the well-orchestrated plan to eliminate what had been a state of the art public education system can finally come together to stop this threat to our democracy.

Since I arrived late, I didn't know where the students were and had to walk around campus for about 45 minutes looking for the activists. While looking for them, I was hit by the corporate image of public education that now permeated the campus in marked contrast to the UCLA of my youth where tuition was $80.50 a quarter. The North Campus student store, where we once sat outside and ate reasonably priced food, now felt nothing about charging $2 for a small orange juice- more expensive than the local market- while corporate logos of banks and chain restaurants seemed pervasive around this campus where such rank commercialism would never have been tolerated in the UCLA of the past..

The vast sports complex that now occupied the space between the main campus and the dormitories reeked of the wealth that had been poured into it. It had shocked me the day before to hear members of the Solidarity Alliance on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now reveal that a multi-million dollar sports program, which generates huge revenues to the University of California was allegedly in the red and that student tuition had to be used to subsidize many expenditures related to the sports program in a university system where the accounting was anything but self-evident.

As I passed what I remembered as Sproul Hall, which I had found by the helicopter circling above, I came upon a rather strange scene where the demonstrators were on a street surrounded by barricades. It looked like they were trying to occupy the parking structure.

As I stood watching the demonstration, I listened to Gordon Takamatsu of KNBC television reporting and spinning the Regents decision to raise tuition as "inevitable" and "a done deal" in what appeared to me to be an attempt to create more apathy in the public, when the reality is that the vast majority of Americans feel exactly the way these students do.

The corporate controlled media is operating under the premise that if a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, then it never happened and those that think it did will feel too apathetic and alone to have the temerity to assert that it did.

In the Making of the President 1960 that chronicles the election of the first Catholic president in the United States, Theodore White shows what the less than one-half of one percent of the people in this country can do who do something more than just vote. At www.perdaily.com, it is my belief that we can do far better than one-half of one percent in developing the constituency necessary to confront and change the corporate party line that is threatening the very existence of this country with its monomaniacal pursuit of ever increasing profit at any cost.

This nonsense is only inevitable if YOU allow it to be. See you in cyberspace.


11 2009

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