UC Berkeley News


Letter to the Editor

03 October 2007

The topic of fee increases is a sensitive one for a great public university. The issues are subtle and complicated. Nowhere is the tension between the university's real needs and its public-service mission more pronounced than in the fee debate. 

The anonymous article in the Berkeleyan's Sept. 27 issue - its byline is "UC Office of the President" - about the recent decision by the UC regents to increase fees for students in professional-degree programs states that professional-degree fees in the UC system will remain well below those of most such programs. The article goes to great lengths to justify the necessity of the increases in budgetary terms.

Rather than debate these official pronouncements on their merits, the Berkeleyan instead opted to critique them on the cheap. I speak of the "sticker-shock guide" box on page 6 of that issue, to which readers' attention is drawn with a similarly titled call-out box on the issue's front page.

The "sticker shock" label affixed to the featured fee-increase data is a playful but nonetheless editorialized viewpoint. The editors of the newspaper apparently question whether UC's professional-degree programs remain a substantial bargain. After all, purchasers of bargain goods and services - excellent quality at relatively low prices - experience sticker delight, not sticker shock.

Perhaps the newspaper welcomes neither the content of this news item nor the manner of its impersonal byline. Whatever the case, there are more forthright options for expressing editorial views than embedding poorly hidden implications in catchy labels.

Larry Rosenthal
Alumnus, Goldman School of Public Policy
Executive Director, Berkeley Program on
Housing and Urban Policy, Haas School of Business

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Editor's note: The Sept. 27 article and its sidebar were reprinted verbatim from a UC Office of the President press release; the headlines and page-one call-out box were supplied by the Berkeleyan, with no intention to editorialize.

The writer has asked us to make clear that the views stated here are his own.

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