On Feb. 17, the state Joint Legislative Audit Committee unanimously approved a system-wide state audit of the University of California.
The audit, originally requested by State Sen. Leland Yee, will entail a comprehensive review of the UC’s use of public funds and its distribution of increased revenue from recent student fee increases. The UC has agreed to the audit without reservation.
In a press release, Executive Vice President for Business Operations Nathan Brostrom said that the UC would gladly cooperate with the audit, as transparency will ward off skeptics.
“We have nothing to hide, and embrace with enthusiasm this opportunity to illuminate once more the work and finances of the University of California,” Brostrom said.
Contrarily, Yee said that the audit is a necessary step to bring more transparency to the UC, which has recently been plagued with allegations of offering pay hikes to executives at an inappropriate time, given the UC’s dire finances.
Yee’s Chief of Staff Adam Keigwin said the audit is necessary in order to expose impropriety and misuse of funds within the UC administration.
“This isn’t just caused by one problem,” Keigwin said. “It’s a series of issues caused by either a total disregard for students and low-wage workers or just poor decision-making skills, or a combination of both. [Yee] has said, ‘enough is enough.'”
Steve Montiel, a spokesman for the UC Office of the President, said that Yee is overstating the reality of the situation and trusts that the audit will eliminate undue suspicion towards the UC.
“Unsubstantiated claims from Senator Yee’s office about the University of California should be taken with a large grain of salt,” Montiel said. “We trust the people of California to sort out fact from fiction, and we’re confident that any audit will confirm the integrity of the UC system’s efforts to preserve quality, access and public service in the face of chronic state disinvestment in higher education.”
While the current debate has sparked much media attention, it is far from the first time Yee and the UC have sparred. Yee has authored two bills aimed at increasing transparency at the UC. Both the bills, Keigwin said, were opposed by the UC.
“The UC says they welcome transparency, but their record is anything but transparent. It’s a nice line, it sounds good, but their record is on the wrong side,” Keigwin said. “Time and time again they oppose every transparency bill in the legislature; you can’t say you’re for transparency and then oppose it every chance you get.”