By Jocelyn Colbert |Staff Writer|
The Campaign for the Future of Higher Education (CFHE) and supporters don’t like the idea of treating students like “consumers” and a college education as a “product.”
According to D. Bruce Johnstone, professor at the University at Buffalo, “privatization, in reference to higher education refers to a process or tendency of colleges and universities [both public and private] taking on characteristics of, or operational norms associated with, private enterprises.”
“Privatization connotes a greater orientation to the student as a consumer, including the concept of the college education as a ‘product’,” stated Johnstone.
More than 100 faculty, students and community leaders met at the Marriott Hotel in Manhattan Beach Jan. 16-18, for the eighth national gathering of the CFHE.
The gathering, hosted by the California Faculty Association (CFA), focused on “ways to build coalitions to fight the various privatization schemes affecting nearly all colleges and universities in the U.S.,” stated the CFHE website.
“Privatization schemes in higher education are hurting the people CFHE collectively represents and serves,” according to CFHE.
CFHE was “launched to guarantee that affordable quality higher education is accessible to all sectors of our society in the coming decades; and include the voices of the faculty, staff, students and our communities—not just administrators, politicians, foundations and think tanks—in the process of making change,” stated FutureofHigherEd.org.
Also during the meeting, members of the CFHE called for 10 states, including California, to institute a student loan refinancing program mirroring one proposed by United University Professions [UUP] in New York.
“By 2016, we’re hopeful that 10 states can adopt the UUP student loan refinancing program and loan forgiveness proposal for adjunct faculty,” said Jeffrey Kolnick, a Southern Minnesota University professor and CFHE participant.
UUP’s plan proposes that State University of New York (SUNY) graduates with state or federal student loans as of Jan. 1, 2008 could refinance their debt, as long as they earn an associate or bachelor’s degree from a state-operated SUNY school, stated UUP.
“United University Professions is the union representing more than 35,000 academic and professional faculty on 29 State University of New York campuses, plus System Administration and Empire State College”, said Michael Lisi, Communications Director of UUP.
“UUP is affiliated with New York State United Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO,” said Lisi.
Lisi, who writes for UUP’s member publication The Voice, told UUP’s story—and won a prestigious international labor award in doing so.
Lisi’s winning entry, “Speaking up for SUNY” (January 2010), describes the impact that state budget cuts have had on students, parents, faculty and staff on SUNY campuses.
“I’ve taken out so many loans for my degree,” said student Jasmine Williams, who is graduating next quarter. “If some of my loans can be forgiven it would help out a lot.”
Some students joke about their debt despite the seriousness of the issue.
“Sallie Mae is looking for me!” chuckled student Brandon Maynor, “I will hide out as long as I can.”
It is the goal of the program to ensure that higher education is the best it can be for students in the attempt to help ensure their success.
“We must ensure that the emphasis, curriculum, pricing, and structure of our nation’s higher education systems are good for our students and the quality of education they receive”, according to futureofhighered.org.
Many people have invested themselves into this campaign.
“This campaign does not start from scratch. It builds on the important work being done by many diverse organizations who fight for access, affordability, funding, equity and humane values,” stated CFHE.