California State Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva became the first legislator to call for UC President Janet Napolitano’s resignation Tuesday after criticizing Napolitano’s leadership following a recent state audit of the UC Office of the President, according to a press release from Quirk-Silva’s office.
The press release alleged that Napolitano’s office spent “lavishly on parties and other extravagant events” and attempted to deny information on its spending to auditors.
“Spending $13,000 — the equivalent of one undergraduate student’s tuition for an entire year — on a fancy retirement dinner shows President Napolitano is not worthy of the public’s trust,” Quirk-Silva said in the press release. “She’s not the person to lead the university system.”
The UCOP declined to comment on Quirk-Silva’s statement.
The Assembly Higher Education Committee — which Quirk-Silva serves on — examined a recent state audit of UCOP that alleged UCOP had failed to disclose $175 million in reserved funds to UC regents, state legislature or the public.
In a press release, UCOP denied the audit’s findings, stating that it only holds $38 million in reserves.
In her press release, Quirk-Silva also called for the UC regents to rescind their recent tuition hike. In February, Quirk-Silva introduced Assembly Bill 393, calling for the amounts of tuition and other mandatory systemwide fees that are charged to California State University-eligible students, along with the enrollment fees for California Community Colleges, not be increased until the 2019-20 school year. The bill also urges the UC regents to adopt similar policies.
Naweed Tahmas, external vice president of Berkeley College Republicans, critiqued Napolitano, saying in an email that it would be “immoral” for Napolitano to continue as UC president. Tahmas also alleged in an email that Napolitano “lavishly” spent California tax dollars that could have been reinvested into the UC system.
The board of Cal Berkeley Democrats also supports Janet Napolitano’s resignation, according to Cal Berkeley Democrats President Caiden Nason.
“We’re happy that an elected official said it,” Nason said. “The UCOP has put profit over students. … Janet Napolitano has time and time again shown she is more concerned with other aspects of the UC, not the students.”
UC Student Association President Ralph Washington Jr. said that he’s not surprised that members of the assembly no longer have confidence in Napolitano.
Washington added that when one is critical of leadership, one should also be critical of the institution as well.
“The students have been making the case for a long time that the stakes are different between students and those who are making the decisions,” Washington said. “When the costs become too high, students are the ones who cannot eat and have nowhere to sleep. The decisions need to be based on an understanding of students.”