The UC Regents and its committees met at UC San Francisco’s Mission Bay campus yesterday for the first of a three-day discussion about University spending, a potential tuition increase and various other topics.
The three-hour meeting began with twenty minutes of public forum, during which 10 members of the UC community voiced concerns about UC President Janet Napolitano’s proposed tuition hikes. Afterward, the Committee on Grounds and Buildings discussed a proposed capital financial plan and preliminary plans for new buildings and the Committee on Compliance and Audit presented annual reports.
During public forum, President of the UCSF Associated Students of the School of Nursing Audrey Combs said many nursing students within the UC system carry an unfairly large financial burden. She also said the University should adjust supplemental tuition in accordance with regent policy and not hinder students’ career paths, citing Regent Policy 3103.7, which states that any tuition increase for professional degrees cannot threaten education access for students interested in pursuing “low-paying public interest careers” and must be justified based on financial need.
“This isn’t just about tuition. This is about the health of Californians and this is about the well-being of our communities,” Combs said. “For those in my graduate nursing program, the debt burden for choosing to attend UCSF is anywhere from 100,000 to 150,000 dollars. Starting pay at a community clinic is about $64,000.”
Fourth-year biopsychology major and External Vice Chair at UC Santa Cruz Louise Cabansay spoke of concerns about the pressure on undergraduates to pay tuition and student fees.
Cabansay said she is having problems paying tuition and has to work while studying to cover costs.
“I am part of your 55 percent who are covered by the Cal Grant and the Pell Grant, but despite this, I am $25,000 in undergraduate debt,” Cabansay said. “I have worked one to two jobs my entire undergraduate career.”
Cabansay also said she frequently encounters students who are concerned about making payments.
“I’ve already had one student drop out this year because they are unable to pay their fall quarter fees,” Cabansay. “I have countless students who come to me each day questioning their own worth, questioning how they can continue to keep putting this burden on their families, and this will continue if this proposed tuition increase goes through.”
UC Berkeley student and External Affairs Vice President for UCB’s Associated Students Caitlin Quinn said UC leadership lacks proper communication and education avenues for students who wish to know plans and activities underway within the UC.
“My students have been asking me, their vice president, who they elected to be more transparent, about what is going on with this tuition plan and my hands are tied,” Quinn said. “I only know as much as the average student. My seat on the UCSA Board hasn’t given me any insight about what’s going on.”
Quinn also said the tuition increase represents larger mistreatment of students by University officials.
“Students really, really, really do not like being used as hostages and political pawns by the UC,” Quinn said. “We are proud to be UC students. We worked hard to get here, so to get this slap in the face, it’s a real shame.”
Later, the Committee on Grounds and Buildings preliminarily approved the 2014-2024 Capital Financial Plan, a collection of each campus’s construction and renovation costs for the next decade. Although the total projected spending for all campuses is $16.3 billion, Regent Hadi Makarechian noted that individual projects costing over $60 million are subject to individual review.
The UC Regents will meet again today and Thursday to discuss the proposed tuition changes and other agenda items.