Tuition for in-state students at the University of California has doubled since I graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2006. Between my freshman and senior year (2002-2006), it increased by 70%. My friends from other states paid three times the state price to attend the same university--international student fees were even higher.
The University of California system was designed as a network of competitive public schools -- institutions where, at the very least, California residents could get a good education for an affordable price. I believe in the UC system and am incredibly grateful for the education I have been able to get -- thanks in large part to my parents, grandparents, aunt and uncle who all helped support me while I pursued my undergraduate education. Without them, I would have accrued massive debt--a price many students are forced to pay for the privilege of getting a degree.
Education should not be a privilege--it should be a right. College should be a time when students are allowed to focus on their studies, to experiment with new ideas, to invest time learning about careers they might not have had access to otherwise. It should not be a time when students must forgo their homework to work multiple jobs, or lose themselves in adult financial matters that tie them to debt for the rest of their lives.
For these reasons I stand in solidarity with my peers at UC Berkeley, at UC Davis, and other public universities who are striving to remain that -- public -- in this era when systems of all kinds need reminding of what our true priorities are.