UCSB’s Division of Student Affairs has been dealt a $7.3 million blow to its budget over the last seven years.
The campus division lost 40 percent of its core funding since 2003, largely due to declining state funding. It is uncertain whether Student Affairs will sustain further fiscal cuts this year, but the administration remains anxious about operating an underfunded, understaffed department.
Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Michael Young said slashes to funding have made it impossible for Student Affairs to maintain the amenities they were able to offer students in years past.
“Every department in the division was cut — everything from admissions to counseling to career services to [the Educational Opportunity Program] to the [Office of the] Registrar,” Young said. “The budget cuts have impacted our ability to provide the level of services we needed to provide to students.”
Dean of Students Yonie Harris said the cuts have also reduced the availability of support staff for students.
“We’ve had to cut hours in certain areas, which means less access to certain departments,” Harris said.
However, she said, although cushioning the effects of the deficit hasn’t been easy, the university has been striving to minimize negative shortfall on students.
“We’ve attempted to have it not felt as much as we can by our students,” Harris said.
In fact, both EOP and Career Services have had to reduce the number of full-time employees within their departments over past years.
EOP Associate Director Ozzie Espinoza said the program has had to keep a tight grip on the services it provides, including those designed to prepare students for the workforce.
“Because of the cuts, the range of programs we offer has gone down,” Espinoza said. “It really has hurt our abilities to offer work study programs, which could have a negative affect on students’ future goals.”
Additionally, Espinoza and Director of Career Services Michael Kemp estimated that their departments are each understaffed by three employees for the current academic year.
According to Young, the unprecedented spate of cuts has forced Student Affairs to alter its outlook on present and future operations.
“We’ve been in the process of re-envisioning how we can learn to live within our new financial reality,” Young said. “We’ve had to make a lot of changes.”
Furthermore, Kemp said cuts have sent students scrambling to seek alternate means of funding to preserve minimal-level services at the university. Several student referenda have been passed in recent years, including last spring’s lock-in fee for Career and Counseling services.
“There has been backfill money given to help fund Career Services,” Kemp said. “Each student pays a little over $5 of their registration fees to fund Career Services.”
While the financial future of the state and university remains uncertain, Young said Student Affairs is adapting so the department can continue to present opportunities and assistance to students.
“We at Student Affairs have been affected dramatically,” Young said. “There have been and will continue to be changes made.”