The following is a letter UCMeP recently sent to the the creme de la creme of the University of California administration. The short memo presents a number of concerns raised by recent revelations (intrepidly broken by CBS 5) that UC Berkeley employs a professional-managerial class of protestors.
Recently, the UC Movement for Efficient Privatization (UCMeP) came across a disturbing story from CBS news that reports “Professional Protestors” are among those involved in campus activism at UC Berkeley:
While we maintain 110% confidence in each of your abilities to do your part to efficiently dismantle public education in the state of California, news of this professional-managerial class of protestors employed by UC Berkeley has raised some eyebrows among even your most loyal constituents. In what follows, we present what UCMeP finds to be three of the most pressing questions this revelation brings to mind. We look forward to your responses.
What types of compensation packages do these Professional Protestors receive annually from the University of California? Do they receive healthcare benefits? And what about pension plans? We have asked various members of the UC administration for more details about the compensation of these employees, but everyone remains very tight-lipped. Since we – like yourselves – are by no means advocates of budget transparency, we fully understand if you prefer not to share these employment details. We assume the lack of publicly available information on these employees is probably due to the fact that they are outside contractors. While we concur with CBS news that it is simply immoral for non-students to participate in protests to defend public education, we certainly value the UC administration’s continued practice to contract out work that could be done much more cheaply by existing employees. As always, we respect the administration’s decisions to screw over union employees to the fullest extent possible. On this note, might we recommend that in order to cut costs (and get the most out employees) the UC consider instituting a furlough policy for Professional Protestors comparable to that of other campus employees?
Why does the University of California deem it necessary to pay people to protest on campus? As loyal supplicants of the UC, we hesitate to question the logic behind any of the administration’s business decisions. Yet we cannot help but ask about the rationale for hiring individuals to protest the noble ways the administration and Board of Regents are looking to privatize the university. After all, the UC administration (particularly Dean of Students Jonathan Poullard and UC Berkeley Spokesperson Dan Mogulof) have worked hard to successfully vilify and criminalize campus activists all the while scaring the bejesus out of anyone else who would even think of protesting the direction the UC is currently barreling down. Why would the UC want add more protestors to the mix? Perhaps hiring outside contractors makes it easier to integrate agent provocateurs and/or informants into the campus activist community? Or maybe hiring Professional Protestors is part of a university marketing strategy? As we all know, UC Berkeley brings in sizable revenue each year by milking its radical past for every cent it’s worth. These Professional Protestors might simply be an investment in the branding of UC Berkeley.
Why are these Professional Protestors allowed to campaign on multiple issues? We wholeheartedly agree with CBS’s denunciation of Professional Protestors for being active on more than one political issue. We cannot stress how dangerous activist multi-tasking is for the University of California. In their coverage, CBS catches a prominent campus activist red-handed protesting not just one issue at UC Berkeley, but two! While we can happily endorse the employment of Professional Protestors for university branding and/or agent provocateur purposes, it is very disturbing that these employees are permitted to work on different issues. By allowing them to do so, the UC runs the risk of its own employees calling attention to the fact that different political issues are interrelated. The UC administration and the State government have worked long and hard to make it seem as if something like British Petroleum’s investment in the University of California is separate from rising student fees. We need to keep doing everything we can to prevent people from connecting the dots. Can you imagine if the citizenry of California began to put two and two together and realized that corporate investment in universities, the incarceration industry, rock-bottom property taxes, and deteriorating K-12 school buildings were actually not mutually exclusive? There would be revolution in the streets! Luckily, we have the help of wonderfully ill-informed and lazy news outlets like CBS 5 who happily present all of these issues as separable and condemn activists for tackling more than one problem.
We thank you in advance for taking the time to address these concerns.