The UC Board of Regents meeting continued the morning of March 18 with open sessions in the Committee of the Whole and the Committee on Finance, while the Committee on Grounds and Buildings and Committee on Long Range Planning was delayed until the afternoon session.
The meeting included remarks from UC President Janet Napolitano and addressed the approval of the authorization of 100-year taxable external financing, a pipeline crossing agreement for UC Davis’ campus, the continuation of the life-safety fee at Berkeley and a discussion on the 2020 Project to direct UC Merced’s long term facilities development.
The meeting began with public comments to the Board from students across the UC, including UCSB students Alexander Hill, Lacey Wright and Melvin Singh.
Associated Students Mental Health Coordinator and fourth-year psychology major Alexander Hill said peer-based programs developed independently on different UC campuses, including at UCSB, are a cost-effective way to educate students and develop new social norms.
“These student employees are a cost effective way to successfully create new social norms on our campuses,” Hill said. “As the UC examines options in addressing issues of education in sexual violence, mental health and food accessibility … it is important for us to greatly expand these programs to cost effectively address the issues at hand … by formally sharing these best practices in peer programming at a system wide level.”
Gaucho Consent Coordinator and first-year art history major Lacey Wright said sexual assault policies should be reviewed and standardized across the UC according to California law regarding sexual assault reporting.
“I was the one who found and pointed out … the statute of limitations on reporting sexual assault that was still in place at UC Santa Barbara, even though it directly contradicted UCOP policy,” Wright said. “Campuses need to have their sexual assault policies reviewed, standardized, and all of our rights clearly delineated, both those given by the campus and those that are supposed to be required by under SB967. You cannot be claiming to protect and serve your students if you are misinforming them.”
Proposing a cap on out of state students at two UC campuses, while increasing out of state enrollment overall, does not solve the problem. UC’s job is to educate California students, not waitlist them. I am frustrated over UC’s latest attempt to use students as bargaining chips. – Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins
Associated Students External Vice President of Statewide Affairs and fourth-year political science and film studies major Melvin Singh said he attended the meeting to update the Board on UCSB, including the development of State Assemblymember Das Williams’ Isla Vista self-governance bill, AB-3.
“[AB-3] is currently in the [legislative] process,” Singh said. “I know that in the past the Regents have been instrumental in helping Santa Barbara rebuild itself … I just wanted to make sure that this is also on your radar, because it’s something a lot of students are passionate about but don’t have enough representation and voice within our own sphere.”
According to Singh, the UC Students Association, a multi-campus board representing UC students on a system-wide level, recently voted to divest from firearms companies and urged further work on the issue.
“UCSA passed a gun divestment bill which I authored in response to the tragedy last May,” Singh said. “I do want to thank you all again for passing a resolution in honor of the victims, but there is more work that we can do to prevent these things from happening.”
Napolitano then spoke on the state of public research universities, which she said are facing similar challenges across the United States.
“In order to serve the next generations, we must keep these institutions robust, enhancing and expanding their academic research and public service missions,” Napolitano said. “We must always be on alert for doing what we do even better and we most critically must convince the general public that higher education is a common goal worthy of public investment.”
Napolitano also addressed the new UC-Mexico Initiative that began last month, which works to bring together the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) with the UC.
“We are also exploring opportunities for faculty and students from UC and its peer institutions in Mexico to better engage with one another,” Napolitano said. “From creating a potential partnership between the UC press and the press of UNAM, a major Mexican university, to better leveraging the UC Mexico Initiative website for prospective students from Mexico who are interested in research and study abroad opportunities at UC, to implementing a possible joint post-doctoral fellowship network.”
Napolitano also announced a possible freeze on enrollment for the 2015-16 academic year.
“We want to keep tuition as low as possible and as predictable as possible,” Napolitano said. “We want to extend the planning horizon line … I announce the possible freeze on enrollment at 2014-15 levels of California students for the 2015-16 academic year, as well as the possible cap on out of state enrollment at Berkeley and UCLA.”
Napolitano initially announced the enrollment freeze at the meeting of the California State Assembly budget subcommittee hearing on education finance on March 3. Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins released a statement the following day condemning the possible enrollment freeze
“Proposing a cap on out of state students at two UC campuses, while increasing out of state enrollment overall, does not solve the problem. UC’s job is to educate California students, not waitlist them,” Atkins said in a statement. “I am frustrated over UC’s latest attempt to use students as bargaining chips.”
Faculty Representative Mary Gilly then addressed the effect of faculty research on teaching in the UC and said research is not a distraction but rather “contributes to the body of knowledge.”
“Much of the public conversation suggests it’s easy to look at research and instruction as two distinct and potentially competing endeavors,” Gilly said. “When public officials have pined that UC faculty should teach more and do less research, they misunderstand what faculty at a research university do … creation of new knowledge is at the very core of the educational mission of a research university.”
The Committee on Finance followed the Committee of the Whole and began with the approval of a taxable 100-year borrowing plan that will not exceed $500 million, plus financing costs with interest, which will not exceed 5.5 percent.
Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Nathan Brostrom said UCSB, UCSD, UCLA, UC Merced and Berkeley are excluded from the taxable external financing because they already received funding from the first issue of the proceeds in 2012.
“We tried to allocate the proceeds from this issue to campuses that did not participate in the first issue, the $868 million in 2012,” Brostrom said. “All the campuses except Santa Barbara participated in first issue … several factors that contributed to the downgrade. The main one was the pension expense, retiree health expense that we had talked about at other meetings.”
The Board then approved Durable Encroachment Agreement for installation and maintenance of water pipeline within Public Right of Way, which allows for UC Davis to construct a pipeline to bring water from the delivery point north of the City of Davis through the city and to the campus.
“Because this is a durable encroachment agreement it requires assumption of third party liability, which is not delegated by the regents and so can only be authorized by the regents,” Brostrom said.
The Board then approved the continuation of the Life Safety Fee for UC Berkeley, which allocates funding for infrastructure related maintenance, good through 2020.
“The student consultation is not required but students were consulted broadly on this and support has been received both by the undergraduate ASUC and the Graduate Assembly presidents,” Brostrom said. “The projects that these are being used for, in this case, several of them are for buildings that house student services, including a student mental health center and student study center.”
Student Regent Sadia Saifuddin said after talking with students on all 10 UC campuses she believes students would be interested in a designated source of funding for the UC annually.
“Another option that we think would be really interesting is to see a designated source of funding that goes to the UC every single year, instead of being left to the discretion of the legislature every single year, which I think is where a lot of the vulnerability and volatility comes from that we have to debate every year,” Saifuddin said. “Designated funding that is in our pockets every year is something that would help stabilize the university and prevent students from having to default on their loans.”
UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland presented several issues that the campus currently face, all of which involve the lack of space and lack of funds.
“We have moved most of our administrative report to leased space in various parts of the community,” Leland said. “Our utilization rates remain higher than typical standards. We strive to be efficient, but at current levels classes have to be held late into the night, office hours are conducted in noisy public spaces and lab space is being used as makeshift desks.”
According to Leland, the proposed infrastructure plan to be achieved by 2020 will add new buildings quickly and economically to UC Merced, and aims to increase enrollment from the current 6,200 students to 10,000 students.
“As envisioned, the 2020 project represents UC Merced’s future in two ways,” Leland said. “First it meets our current very real existing needs, and second it will enable UC Merced to accommodate 10,000 students.”
The revised 2020 plan was put aside until further updates, and discussion moved on to the Committee on Grounds and Buildings regarding UC Merced’s plans for a campus facility downtown.