UC Santa Barbara — which employs over 10,000 people as part of the University of California system, one of the largest employers in California — is refusing to release data on how much it pays its employees of color, claiming that that the information is exempt from public review under the California Public Records Act.
The California Public Records Act (CPRA) states that “access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state.” The state law requires public agencies like the UC system to provide records to the public unless the information falls under one of the law’s exceptions.
Despite the UC system’s stated “commitment to transparency and public accountability,” UCSB has refused several times to release the information, which the Daily Nexus requested in August through the CPRA, even after the UC Office of the President directed the Nexus to file this request with UCSB.
The Nexus filed a request to UCSB on Aug. 10, 2020 for the pay, race or ethnicity, job title, gender and full-time or part-time status of each employee who worked during the 2019-20 academic year.
The Nexus requested this information in order to see what UCSB pays its employees of color and which university departments employ them as part of a preliminary investigation into UCSB’s employment practices.
UCSB does provide information online about employees’ salaries and the racial breakdown of its workforce, separately. But this information does not allow for an analysis of pay disparities between employees of color and white employees.
In an email to the Nexus, Monica Dussert, public records act coordinator at UCSB, said the information is exempt from public review under two of the CPRA’s exceptions: “privacy concerns” and “because the balance of public interest favors nondisclosure of this information.”
Under the CRPA, public agencies must demonstrate that the information falls under one of its exceptions.
Kelly Aviles, an open government and media attorney based in Los Angeles, said that UCSB failed to adequately demonstrate how the exceptions cited would legally prevent the release of the information.
“When an agency is denying a public records request, they are supposed to justify the withholding of each record and they need to meet a high burden to demonstrate that it’s exempt,” Aviles said.
UCSB claims that releasing the data requested violates employees’ privacy, but the CRPA explicitly states that the privacy exception “does not prevent the disclosure by a government agency of data regarding age, race, ethnicity, national origin, or gender of individuals.”
UCSB additionally claimed that the data falls under an exception that permits withholding the records if “the public interest served by not disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record.” The Nexus asked UCSB to demonstrate how the exceptions apply to the requested information; University Spokesperson Andrea Estrada denied to provide further comment on the matter.
Aviles noted that she has tried numerous cases against the UC that pushed back against PRA refusals and said the UC is “notorious” for breaking PRA laws.
“We frequently get complaints about UC, maybe more than any other… single government entity. Oftentimes we see either a complete refusal to respond to requests or just denials that have no basis in law,” Aviles said. “They have developed, I would say, quite the reputation in the transparency community for not complying with the laws’ obligations.”
The university maintains that it “fully complies with all CPRA requirements in responding to every request,” Estrada said in an email.
After Dussert denied the Nexus’ initial request in August, the Nexus requested the same information from the UC Office of the President on Sept. 17. UCOP directed the Nexus to file the request with UCSB’s public records office. The Nexus filed a request to UCSB again on Sept. 21 for the same information; UCSB denied that request the same day.
Then, on Sept. 26, the university said it does not have the information the Nexus requested.
In the latest response from the university on Sept. 26, Estrada said in an email that “some of the data does exist” but not “in the manner that was requested.”
In an email to the Nexus, Aviles said Estrada’s response “misrepresents the UC’s previous denial of [the] request, which contrary to their claim, does not comply with the CPRA.”
The bottom line, Aviles said, is that to the “extent that some of the data does exist, they must provide it.”
Wow I bet UC Santa Barbara in California in 2020 is deliberately paying people of color less!
It’s like you guys are running out of places to find racism. Wild.
Don’t be willfully ignorant. Racism exists and is perpetuated everywhere, even in places like California dumbass.
Why would you not want more information if not just to confirm your belief?– More stats and facts cant be bad either way.
Some people like to take stats out of context and freak out about things that have reasonable explanations. For instance women make less than men on average. You could take that as evidence of systemic discrimination. Or, you could consider that a lot of women are taken out of the workforce because of motherhood, so many female employees don’t get the chance to work their way up the ladder like males do. All I’m saying is there’s a lot more pressing places for us to look for racism. The odds of the UC system being deliberately racist is prettttty low… Read more »
So you choose willful ignorance? Because stats might be distorted why see stats or understand things?
Women even with comparable experience get offered less than men. Shouldnt we ensure equitable systems everywhere?
Our salaries are already online. Did you ask each employee if the want to publicly disclose their race?
This is BS.
As an employee its part of the paperwork you fillout. It’s one of the optional form s to self report race. Where is the problem? People either filled it out or didnt. But there is an existing data set of it.
The salaries are online. Go through departments, connect names to money, come up with numbers.
Do you think that your solution is either time efficient or that you can tell what race people are by their name?
pictures are available for many. come up with a number and then make ucsb confirm or deny. you can look back through the nexus for some of these numbers connected to title IX lawsuits.
So connect money to names names to pictures and then you will be able to tell because you cant tell what every person identifies as by looking at them? This is getting dumber and more ignorant as you keep going
what’s dumb is a university owned and run student newspaper asking “themselves” for data that cannot be supplied under the CPRA. Lawsuits can lead to the production of similar data. Perhaps the Nexus should sue themselves. You could be the plaintiff. There is no IQ test you just need bank.
do you really think the student led newspaper is the same thing as the school administration?
follow the money.
Ok and …?
Try making a point not a cryptic empty comment when you obviously have nothing to say
The student newspaper is paid for by UCSB