One of my hopes coming out of the pandemic was that we would become more aware of how interdependent we are as a community and perhaps do more to ensure that everyone has the support they need. The 2022 UAW contract negotiations and strike underscored that interdependence, making clear how essential postdoctoral scholars, academic researchers and graduate students are to our campus ecosystem; our teaching and research missions depend on them. Having them withdraw their labor created significant challenges and stress for our undergraduates, faculty and staff.
‘On My Mind’
‘On My Mind’ is a space for senior campus leaders to communicate with the Berkeley community.
I know that campus messages about healing and coming together after the strike have been met by some with skepticism. Yet, in my mind, if we want to move forward together effectively, we cannot expect to simply go back to business as usual. The strike was challenging for many reasons, including the fact that it came on top of what had already been a very stressful few years. Call it healing, repair or simply processing — I think we all need to take some time to work through the many emotions we felt during and even after the strike.
We also need to begin to address the long-term, systemic issues that were made visible by the strike. State disinvestment in the University of California has made it financially impossible for Berkeley to continue to educate doctoral students as we have in the past. We need a new model, one that provides adequate financial support, robust and supportive mentorship, is equitable and accessible, and that is sustainable in the long term. The chancellor has asked me to convene a task force to address these longer-term questions. How do we advance our mission and stay true to our values while making the changes we need to make to meet this historic moment? I do not claim to have all the answers, but look forward to working with all of you to reimagine and reinvigorate Berkeley’s educational mission.
Finally, as we move into the spring semester, I believe it is important that we be mindful about how we come together again in our classrooms, labs and offices. Working through these feelings will not be easy; it will require intentionality and a significant amount of grace. Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students Sunny Lee, Vice Chancellor of Equity and Inclusion Dania Matos, and I are co-leading a work group designed to help community members manage this transition, providing the campus community with support and tools as we navigate this time. My hope is that we move forward even stronger than we were before.
In the immediate term, if you need support or help, please feel free to reach out to me. For questions or concerns, see if they can be answered by the post-strike FAQs. If not, you can ask your question or share your concerns through the post-strike website. We are working diligently to support the campus community during this time.