Thursday, March 4, 2010

An Aside

Today was an important day for California young people. Lots of my friends protested the rising of student fees, and the cuts to the entire college system in California. About seven years ago, I and a bunch of other community college students at the time, marched on the State Capitol. We didn't want the student fees to rise from $11 a unit. I was interviewed for Sacramento City college's newspaper, the Express, a year later, when the discussion again arose.

Now, the situation is dire. California State University at Sacramento is experiencing furloughs that affect courses and teaching. Due to record unemployment (of which I am a hidden statistic, I have not collected unemployment, and I am almost a year out of work) many of us are returning to school. I am currently re-enrolled at SCC post a degree at CSUS. For my Excel class, the professor has assigned us a project requiring the names, ages, and majors of our classmates. I was astounded to realize that I, at 26, was still among the youngest in the class. There are many in their 40's and older. There are other "graduates" as well, who (like me) seem to be in their latter 20's.

The State of California is sliding into a hole so large that it has begun systematically burying all tiers of its college system. The University of California system has boasted UCLA, UCSB, Cal Berkley, UC Santa Cruz, UC San Diego... but what happens to these nationally respected schools when the budgets are cut? Then there are the California State schools. San Fransisco State has a nationally acclaimed MFA in Creative Writing. California State University at Monterey Bay has programs working with Moss Landing. California State University, San Jose has the only Library Science degree in Northern California. Yes, that means the UC's don't have one.

What does this have to do with writing? Everyone I have brought into this writing network I have known in college, or through someone I met in the course of my 8 year college career. Classes were the best center for meeting other writers, for learning about groups, and so forth. When I went to World Fantasy Convention last fall, some of the authors were open about working in colleges and universities. Others had degrees in creative writing. Some had degrees in something else...knowledge and writing seem to go hand in hand. How can we hope to nurture future readers and writers if we can't assist our universities?

And... besides...there was the picture of the cool dude with the protest sign that read: "What Would Emerson do?" Because, my friends, you can't beat that.



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