31 May 2007

Go Bears!

Thirty years ago I was a freshman at the University of California, Berkeley. I was lucky. My parents loved me, supported me, encouraged me. I was taught that learning and scholarship were virtues, that a college education was a noble aspiration. The State of California built a university system that was the envy of the world. The parents of the post-WWII and post-Korea generations were determined to send their kids to college. If they were lucky enough to live in the Golden State they had a myriad of high-quality, affordable choices. Affordable. That is the point of public universities--to give middle class and working class kids a chance. I probably don't have to tell anyone that the cost of a college education has so outstripped the rise in wages that fewer and fewer kids get the opportunities that those of a previous generation took for granted. And no one gives a shit. Thousands of young people are convinced they will never afford a university degree. They have given up hope, that most precious of all commodities. They are wrong. They can still do it, it will just be harder and harder. The federal and state money so generously passed out in the 60's and 70's has mostly dried up. Kids and parents have to scramble more. They have to take on more debt. They have to start savings accoounts for college in utero. This is a national disgrace. Every deserving child in high school needs to KNOW, to KNOW, not to guess, that they will be able to afford a college education. Why in goddamned hell do I pay my goddamn taxes? I'll tell you why: so our schools can be the envy of the world again. So PUBLIC universities remain affordable for the general PUBLIC. I read the news and I see what people get pissed off about. They get pissed off about a lot of pointless shit. I'll tell you what I am pissed off about. I'm pissed off about our universities in California not being treated like the jewels they are. I'm pissed off that tuition rates are climbing faster than health care costs. I'm pissed off that no one else is pissed off about it! I didn't expect this to become a rant, in fact, I wrote about my alma mater because I had a wonderful opportunity last night. I attended a local event honoring top students, and presented a California Alumni Association scholarship to a young lady who is attending Berkeley in the fall. I was surprised by how important this event became to me. I shouldn't have been. Going to Cal was the best thing that ever happened to me. I met my beautiful wife there. I made the best friends I've ever had there. I turned my degree into a profession that has allowed me to live comfortably in a place I want to be. I grew up. I became a man. And I embraced the world of learning that Berkeley so vibrantly exemplifies. I want every kid to have that chance. "Fiat Lux" is what it says on the Berkeley motto. "Let there be light." Indeed.
prid. Kal. Iun.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your rant on the California universities (& unies in general), which are pricing hope right out of sight. When I started UCLA in fall of 1954 the semester tuition was $50; when my daughter went there in the late 1980s, it was thousands of dollars already. We probably couldn't afford to send her today, unless she mortgaged her soul. Hope shouldn't have such a high price. NOC