Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown made decisions on several bills that will affect students and faculty at the state’s three public higher education institutions. The bills covered multiple issues, including future fee increases, faculty tenure review policies and expansions to scholarship and medical coverage for student athletes.
Brown had until Sunday to make a decision on the bills, which were passed by the state Legislature during the 2011-2012 legislative session. Brown signed bills that aim to decrease the unpredictability of future tuition increases and increase the affordability of textbooks. A significant portion of the state budget allocated to its higher education system hinges on the passage of Proposition 30 — Brown’s tax plan that will appear on the ballot in November. If the proposition fails to pass, the University of California would be dealt a $250 million midyear “trigger” cut, and student tuition would likely increase in January.
Because the UC system has legislative independence from the state, most of the bills will be implemented systemwide only to the extent that the UC Board of Regents decides to integrate them into existing policies.
AB 970 recommends the UC and CSU start the process of consulting with student associations roughly six months before adopting future tuition increases.
Although the bill was co-sponsored by the California State Student Association and the UC Student Association, the university originally opposed it but changed its stance to neutral after the Legislature made amendments to the bill, according to UC spokesperson Dianne Klein.
Amendments “made the bill workable and created significant ‘outs’ in the event certain actions — such as state budget reductions or midyear budget cuts — occur,” Klein said in an email. She added that the university already consults with students any time the it adopts tuition increases.
Still, UC Student Regent-designate Cinthia Flores said in an email that she will advocate for the bill to be adopted by the Board of Regents because it promotes greater transparency and accountability in the UC system.
SB 1052/SB 1053:
Together, these bills will create an open source textbook library for 50 of the state’s most popular undergraduate courses. It also legislates the creation of a council of faculty members from all three higher education systems to select these courses.
Still, some students said that creating an online database will not necessarily make textbooks accessible.
“It’s not … going to solve any problems for truly low-income students, because e-books require an electronic device” said Jacquie Lu, a senior at UC Berkeley. “But, obviously, cheap or free e-textbooks are a step in the right direction.”
The university sent a letter to Brown on Sept. 6 asking him to sign the legislation.
This bill expands scholarship and health care provisions for student-athletes at university athletic programs that draw an average of $10 million in annual revenue from media rights starting in the 2013-2014 academic year.
According to Cal Athletics Communications Director Herb Benenson, the campus athletics department already offers its athletes the benefits outlined in the bill. UC Berkeley already covers athletic injuries for up to two years, even if the student-athlete has left the campus, according to a bill analysis by the state Senate Appropriations Committee.
On Sunday, Brown vetoed a bill that would request the university to consider faculty community service for purposes of appointment, tenure review and promotion.
In a veto letter to the California State Assembly dated Sept. 30, Brown said he vetoed the bill because many systemwide policies already consider service for faculty review.
“The extent to which service is considered in such decisions should be a local, campus-based decision,” the letter states.
This bill calls for the state’s three higher education systems to include information about federal student loans, such as the availability of these loans to students from all income brackets, in financial aid literature starting in January 2013.
Contact DJ Sellarole at [email protected]
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