As Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers convened Thursday for negotiations over the state budget, a group of University of California students had a gift for them: burrito bowls from Chipotle.
Following Brown's comments last week that California universities should be more like the fast-food chain – limiting their course options so that attendees can graduate faster and at a lower cost – the students said they wanted to make the case that the real issue at UC and California State University is a lack of funding.
The demonstration was organized by Maxwell Lubin, a UC Berkeley graduate student and CEO of the advocacy group Rise California, who has already spearheaded successful lobbying campaigns this year to avert tuition hikes at UC and CSU. After delivering the Chipotle meals to the offices of Brown and the 10 legislators participating in the budget conference committee, he called Brown's analogy "insulting.”
"The reason it's such an egregious comparison is that so many students don't even have enough to eat," Lubin said. With tuition costs soaring over the past decade to make up for recession-era budget cuts, students are struggling to pay for their basic needs, he said, a situation he called “morally unconscionable.”
He was joined by fellow UC Berkeley students Rigel Robinson and Varsha Sarveshwar, who shared copies of an op-ed they wrote for The Bee this week about Brown's Chipotle speech. They said they had never heard their friends complain that their biggest obstacle to graduating on time was, as Brown suggested, professors wanting to "teach one of their pet little projects."
Lubin said one of his organization's long-term goals is to remind the public that the universities are not just for job preparation and there is value to the variety of subjects that students learn there. He pointed to Brown's famous habit of quoting old philosophers in his press conferences.
"For someone who went to Berkeley and got a classic degree, there's a rich irony there," he said.