The “Unison”©: A Synergistic Model for the Solvent Merger of California’s Universities and Prisons (Part 2 of 2)

Abstract. The following is the second part of a two-part study drawn up by the UC Movement for Efficient Privatization (UCMeP). Part One of this groundbreaking study gives approbation to the Governor’s recent public-relations-stunt-disguised-as-a-budget-proposal (to “support public education” by privatizing the state prison system). Despite their appreciation of the governor’s rhetorical maneuvers, Part Two explains UCMeP’s concern that the proposal unnecessarily pits prisons against universities. UCMeP then unveils an innovative proposal for unifying the privatization projects of education and incarceration in the State of California, calling for the synergistic creation of the world’s first combined university-prison institution, or the Unison©. To conclude, UCMeP details the remarkable and innovative steps administrators at UC Berkeley are already taking towards synergizing education and incarceration.

PART TWO: University + Prison = the Unison©

We here at the UC Movement for Efficient Privatization (UCMeP) were cautiously thrilled by the innovative budget plan recently rolled out by our burly hunk of a governor, Mr. Schwarzenegger, on Friday, January 8. In Part 1 of our study (which you can read here) we celebrated Arnie’s wonderfully-wily plan to allow our once-golden state to cut its losses on its multi-decade long prison building spree (what UCMeP has long preferred to call “California’s Long-Term Penal Infrastructural Development and Beautification Project”) by deftly accelerating its plans to de-regulate the incarceration industry into a competitive private venture. We were especially encouraged by Schwarzenegger’s savvy decision to present this proposal under the inspiringly insidious pretense of “supporting” public education. What a brilliant move to demobilize the terrorist network currently wreaking havoc throughout our state in the name of preserving that wasteful (dis-)service of “public” education!

Despite Arnie’s honorably deceitful proposal, we here at UCMeP, like so many other groups at the University of California, could not help but be critical of the way in which the governor’s plan pits universities against students. Yet unlike those mischief-makers at OccupyCa (see the Marxist circuity and disgusting rationality of their response to the governors’ proposal, UCMeP is not calling for any “unity… in the struggle against the privatization of both schools and prisons,” but instead urges for the privatization of schools and prisons to be unified. Rather than separate the two privatization projects, we believe universities and prisons should consolidate their efforts. We aver that such unity must abide by the time-tested and fiscally sound corporate strategy ofsynergy.

Instead of pitting the state’s two most internationally renowned institutions against each other, the privatization projects of incarceration and education – two lucrative business ventures that have been kept separate for far too long in the golden State of California – should be efficiently and profitably consolidated through a careful yet speedy merger. For the end product of such a consolidation, UCMeP envisions an entirely novel, bankable, and combinatory incarceratory-educational entity called,the Unison© (short for the University-Prison). Like its pithy and cleverly efficient name suggests, the actual form such a groundbreaking merger would take should draw on the most profitable characteristics of both the university and the prison, all the while strategically excising the less “solvent” parts.

Now, some might claim that such an innovative project will never come to pass. To this, we would simply like to point to how experiments with the Unison© are already well underway in California. We find it instructive to look specifically at University of California at Berkeley, which has taken the greatest strides towards transforming itself into a combination university-prison.

As anyone who has recently stepped foot on the campus of UC Berkeley can attest, the prisonification of what once was “the world’s best public university” (which is of course an oxymoron) is already at foot. What was once “a hotbed of communism and homosexuality” (according to former governor Ronald Reagan), UC Berkeley has recently become an instructive paragon in penal and educational synergy, incorporating a number of practices from more-established correction facilities, and in some cases, even improving upon and making more efficient established incarceratory procedures. On this note, we would like to conclude this short missive by pointing to just three of the many innovative steps UC Berkeley has taken to synergize education and incarceration, which we hope other universities will draw on for guidance:

Synergy Step #1: Replace Faculty with Police. Not only has the UC Berkeley administration recently demonstrated sound fiscal decision-making abilities by getting rid of redundant staff, faculty, and union employees (as well as starting to push out those expensive middle-class students), but in doing so, administrators have replaced them with increased numbers of police officers who are now a familiar presence on campus both aesthetically and tangibly. Far from being a drain on resources, however, this growing cohort of police officers is actually a long-term investment in the university’s fiscal and academic future. In the long-run, we believe increased numbers of moderately-paid police on campus will ultimately phase out the outdated, aging, and much higher-paid tenured faculty in the Humanities and Social Sciences, thus ultimately saving the university money. Additionally, the lessons of obedience, discipline, and respect for authority that officers can literally pound into the university’s impressionable minds, we believe, will help build a much sounder and more acquiescent citizenry than the critical thinkers and rabble-rousing socialists those armchair-activists in the Humanities currently aspire to churn out.

Synergy Step #2: Infrastructural Resource Maximization through Overcrowding. As is well known, California’s prison industry saves untold millions each year by practicing sound infrastructural and personnel austerity measures. While some activist judges at the federal level (undoubtedly bribed by the rich prison union lobby) have determined these measures as contributing to massive overcrowding in the state’s many prisons (even ordering California to cut its prison population by 40,000 over the next two years, a demand Schwarzenegger wisely ignored), these efforts are actually an enviable model of resource maximization. This is a lesson UC administrators seem to have learned well as evidenced by their shrewd decisions to increase already high class-sizes while slashing course offerings.

Synergy Step #3: Closed Tribunals instead of Transparent Trials. While UC Berkeley has transposed a number of practices regularly used in prisons directly onto the university, UC administrators have also impressively enhanced many of the criminal justice system’s most inefficient procedures. Perhaps the best example of this can be seen in the brilliant steps UC Berkeley has recently taken to revamp the efficacy of tired and inefficient juridical processes in its campaign of criminalization against students. In the many exciting tribunals currently being held against dissenting students (what the administration creatively terms ‘student conduct hearings’), UC Berkeley has not hesitated in throwing out all notions of giving students the right to a fair trial. Unlike the highly bureaucratic and rule-bound state criminal justice system, UC Berkeley bravely recognizes that things like a compelling body of evidence, trial by jury, and the right to legal representation are simply (costly) obstacles that stand in the way of speedy and efficient punishments. In their bold and enviable disregard for justice, UC Berkeley has demonstrated, that the public university system is much more adept than its counterparts in the justice system at saving costs and ensuring convictions.

As UC Berkeley tirelessly works to shed its anachronistic (not to mention narrow) educational mission by promoting synergy between the two burgeoning industries of incarceration and education, we here at UCMeP look forward to the day when the University of California and the state prison system will officially combine forces to make real the dream of a born-again UC: the Unison© of California. And perhaps we will even be able to soon add a new UC to our venerable campus roster: UC San Quentin.

Faithfully Yours,



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