By Borna Hamedani
I came across David Reider, a fellow student who is a thirty year old senior English major at UCI. During the first day of school in my partition class, David had taken it upon himself to stand up in front of the whole class and speak his mind about the unfair rise in tuition fees. So in turn I took it upon myself to approach him for an interview and get his story. I met with David at a local Starbucks near campus and commenced to interview him.
Q: How long have you been Attending UCI?
A: I have been going to UCI around (thinking to himself), Since 2001 off and on. In the fall of 2004 though, I ended up being diagnosed with a severe, life-threatening brain tumor. I Was diagnosed on a Saturday and had to have surgery on Monday to remove what they could. At the time I was 25, and after my treatment and recovery, I had to come back, well, I just had to. I was finally told by the doctors that I will be okay to come back. And after all that I had been through, I thought I need to get my degree. I only have 6 classes left anyhow.
Q: How has the rise in tuition cost and budget cuts affected you personally? How much has the cost of tuition gone up from when you first started attending UCI?
A: Well When I left, I think it was around $1100 a quarter. That means in the 5 years that I have been gone tuition has risen 300%. And that is freaking ridiculous. The budget cuts are affecting everyone too. I have to attend OCC for my language requirement, and they have had to slash the number of classes that they are offering in the language department. I was at UCI when our wonderfully effective governor made his speech about taking our money away from us and directing it towards kids who needed it more than we did. Needless to say, the students did not like him very much after that. The only thing that I am lucky about is my age. I am over the age limit and I don’t have to claim my parents on my financial aide forms. So I got a lot of loans, but there is a catch. To pay them off the normal way by the time I graduate I will have to pay back about $50,000.00.
Q:What do you mean when you say the normal way? (Added Question)
A: Well i mean paying it back all at once, instead of making payments for the next 10 years of my life.
Q: Why do you want to pay it back up front? (Added Question)
A: Because i don't want a debt lingering over me for the rest of my life. I just want to get it off my mind and pay it back all together, but unfortunately because of my medical costs and other things I'll most likely end up doing the payments. I wish i had that kind of money but i don't.
Q: How did it feel after going through what you went through to come back to school and see how much the cost of education had gone up?
A: I was, I guess stunned is the clean word that I can use here to describe my feeling (laughing aloud) when I saw how much tuition had gone up. Disgusted and drained would be some other words.
Q: Are you currently aware that tuition cost will increase further next year? How does that make you feel?
A: Yeah, I see no end to the raises either. I think it’s crazy how it just keeps rising and rising. It’s really unfair to students who are trying to get a education and better themselves. Thankfully i will of graduated by then.
Q: What are your views about how education is being treated by not only the state but our federal government too?
A: There is just so much wrong with how not just our state but our country views education. I am spoiled in a way since I got to study in England, and I don’t know if any Americans know it, but outside of Cambridge and Oxford college is (drumroll please)free! Free! Go figure. There have been initiatives and propositions put on the ballots, and no one votes for them. The lottery was supposed to give schools money, it never really has. All of this money that was promised to the schools goes somewhere else and I have no idea where it ends up. If California split from the US we would be the 6th highest economy. But we are broke. Go figure.
Q: What propositions and initiatives do you have knowledge of that were intended to help schools? (Added question)
A: Well one that i have intimate knowledge about is Prop 1A and 1B which was defeated in May this year. I voted yes but unfortunately the majority of people in this state didn't think a slight increase in taxes was a fair trade for billions in funding for our schools. Another thing i've been made aware of is this rainy day fund which the regents and heads of our UC system think is not necessary to use yet. What can be a more rainy day than now, kids our dropping out of school because they can't afford it anymore. Why is this money restricted and what else could it be used for!
Q: Do you personally know any teachers who have been let go due to budget cuts?
A: Oh my god yeah! My sister in-law lost her job teaching at O.C.C. (Orange Coast College). Two of my friends who are teachers lost their jobs. Other friends who are teachers at O.C.C. had to take on an absurd amount of students due to the cuts. Their story is all the same. It’s cheaper to fire them then it is to pay their salary.
Q: If you could speak to UC President Mark Yudof, what would you say to him?
A: What would I tell him? I would have a congenial discussion with him about why he is doing absolutely nothing to help the people he is supposed to help. We need education, but it’s sad that not many people could even attempt to attend school now, because it’s so freaking costly. Soon we will approach the same amount private universities charge, if we haven’t already (laughing to himself). A Public education system run by the state shouldn’t put students into poverty when they graduate.
Q: In reference to you previous claim, Do you personally know anyone who is struggling to make a living after graduating from school? (Added Question)
A: Actually yea i do, i have a friend who graduated as an architecture major from UCSD last year. This guy is one of the brightest people i know and can't even find a job to help pay off his student loans. He's currently working as a valet for a hotel, just to make the payments for his student loans and live in bad conditions at best. I guess a Bachelors degree means nothing anymore, which is scary for me because that's all i can afford to get. I would love to attend graduate school, but i have no money for it and i'm not willing to dive deeper into student loans.
Q: Do you think enough students are concerned enough to help make a change to the current system?
A: Sadly I don’t, you saw it yourself on the first day of class (our Partition class we attend together). I was very disappointed that when our professor asked our class who wanted to talk about the budget crisis and out of 60 people I was the only one that raised a hand. Until we started caring and uniting under one cause together nothing will change, and I think things will just keep getting worse and worse.