UC President Janet Napolitano talks tuition hikes, undocumented students

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With tuition hikes to be voted on by the UC Board of Regents on Thursday, UC President Janet Napolitano said the proposed universitywide tuition increase will not impact students who are receiving financial aid, and also emphasized the university’s dedication to supporting and protecting undocumented students.

On Jan. 6, The Daily Californian, along with five other UC student newspapers, participated in a teleconference with Napolitano to discuss these and other pressing issues the university is facing. Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

The New University (UC Irvine): How will the UC increase security on campus?

UC President Janet Napolitano: Last year, both at Merced and UCLA, we had incidents that were serious in nature. I don’t know that we are going to be looking at any kind of major expansion in, say, actual police, but what we are doing is a lot more by way of training and also making sure that things like the alert system (function properly), so that students can get immediate real time information … to enable them to know what to do … where to avoid going.

The Daily Bruin (UCLA): Has the university looked at any alternatives to tuition hikes?

JN: We would all love for tuition never to be raised again, (but) that would require the state to put in substantially more money. … Without a substantial input of more money from the state, tuition becomes a last resort to be used to maintain quality. If we’re going to have tuition increases, they need to be as low as possible, and they need to be predictable and they need to be accompanied by a lot of financial aid.

City on a Hill Press (UC Santa Cruz): What are some possible alternatives to tuition hikes?

JN: We’ve been doing quite a bit of belt-tightening. We’ve reformed the way we do procurement. It allows us to leverage our size.

The Daily Nexus (UC Santa Barbara): How would you respond to other students reporting their undocumented classmates?

JN: Theoretically, any person can report someone they believe is undocumented. Is that a good idea? I do not think so. I do not think deporting is good law enforcement practice. They grew up here. They’ve succeeded here. They got into UC, meaning they’re good students. … I don’t think it’s a good idea, both from a fairness perspective and an immigration perspective.

The UCSD Guardian (UC San Diego): How would you respond to people who say undocumented students are not worthy of government funding?

JN: I think these are the kind of young people that you want to stay in the country. … From the deportation perspective, those are limited resources, so why spend deportation funding on young people who have done everything we have asked them to do? My first year as president, we set aside $5 million for undocumented student support. … We added to that last year. Now, it’s a little over $8 million. I think we’re going to have to expand that if (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program) is repealed.

The Daily Californian: With tuition hikes on the horizon, how will the UC act to prevent a drop in retention and enrollment rates among lower-income communities?

JN: The Cal Grant program. If we raise tuition, Cal Grants also go up, so that low-income students will not only have the increase covered, but will also have their financial aid go up. It will produce for them more resources to use for non-tuition purposes. For example, for California residents, for families that make $80,000 a year or less, a $336 increase in tuition nets $500 in financial aid. … If you are currently receiving financial aid, you don’t have to worry about the increase.

DC: Is the university generating a lot of revenue from private partnerships?

JN: Are we privatizing the university? I would say no, but we have to be very cautious of this. If we enter into a private partnership on housing, it doesn’t mean we’re giving free rein to a landlord. This is for students. This is designed for students.

Senior staff writer Suhauna Hussain also contributed to this report.

Harini Shyamsundar is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @hshyamsundar.

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  • jakeleone

    The U.C. system is highly desired by foreign students. Why not raise foreign student tuition?

    Has Janet Napolitano even considered this? Has she done any actual research on whether we can raise foreign student tuition and in doing so garner more money for the U.C. system?

    We have seen a history of politically connected individuals in our government and public institutions, fail to get the best deal possible for their constituency. Well from what I can tell, this is a classic case.

    In other countries, schools have no issue with charging foreign students a 100x what the average local is charged, we should be doing the same, for the sake of our young people.

    It just makes good business sense.