Readers React

Tuition is too high at UC. It's time to boost state funding.

To the editor: Thank you for your thoughtful editorial on UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks' effort to comprehensively review his university's operations in light of growing deficits. You raise many important issues. ("What's next for Berkeley and UC?," editorial, Feb. 23)

Tuition at the University of California system spiked after the 1978 passage of Proposition 13, which lowered local property taxes. The state was thus forced to take over funding for health programs, welfare, K-14 education and the courts, which had been significantly covered locally. Since this funding has been virtually mandated, state discretionary spending has been severely limited. Thus the total portion of UC funding received from the state dropped from about two-thirds in the 1960s to the present 15%, if we are lucky.

Today UC tuition nears $14,000 per year, up from less than $4,000 annually in the 1990s. UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law now charges about $50,000 per year. In 1958, long before he was governor, Jerry Brown paid “fees” — no tuition — of $110 to enter UC Berkeley. Starting at Boalt in 1949, I paid $60, the same fee as an undergraduate.

The public should understand the context of this massive tuition spike. It would be far better to significantly increase state support for higher education, a core element of our infrastructure, than to raise tuition.

William T. Bagley, San Rafael, Calif.

The writer was a member of the UC Board of Regents from 1989-2002.

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To the editor: Buried in this excellent editorial is a telling phrase, “the luster of pre-Prop. 13 days.”

When is a responsible politician or a caring millionaire going to sponsor a measure to bury this horribly selfish proposition? Do people not realize that owners with properties whose value has increased immeasurably since 1978 can leave these estates to their heirs without any change to the assessed value?

The effects of this dreadful proposition will go on unless we take action.

Lynne Shapiro, Marina del Rey

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To the editor: I thank The Times for pointing out that the UC sports teams are losing money and that they should be included in any analysis that fundamentally rethinks how a UC campus works. But it is not only the money that should be considered.

I for one find it quite cynical that UCLA has a top-ranked football team and also one of the best academic programs studying traumatic brain injury. UCLA in particular and the UC system in general should send a strong message by eliminating sports programs that severely injure the participating students.

Felix Schweizer, Los Angeles

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To the editor: UC campuses have acquired many of the accouterments of elite society — like their own police departments.

Recent academy graduates are hired at an annual salary of more than $60,000. The chiefs of police are paid more than $150,000 annually. These people police communities that have an infinitesimal rate of violent crime.

UC must cut its administrative budget to the bone.

Rob Reisig, Yorba Linda

The writer is a retired UC San Francisco Police Department chief.

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