UC Student Association calls for public forum with UC president, state governor

Jessica Gleason/File

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The UC Student Association has called for a public forum to discuss UC costs and funding with UC President Janet Napolitano and Gov. Jerry Brown.

The request for a public forum was initially brought up by the Associated Students of the University of California at Davis, or ASUCD. In February, UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi personally reached out to both Brown and Napolitano regarding the possibility of holding the forum at UC Davis.

The originally proposed date of April 1 for the forum, though, was rejected by Napolitano because of scheduling difficulties. In a letter to members of ASUCD, Napolitano said she “applauded (the students) for thinking broadly about the future of the University.” The UCSA is currently working to reschedule the forum for later this spring.

UCSA President Jefferson Kuoch-Seng said that although Napolitano and Brown meet privately often, very little information is released to the public. The request for a public forum is a result of the “boiling up of pressure and frustration over time,” according to Kuoch-Seng.

Nevertheless, Kuoch-Seng is “hopeful” that the event will take place, saying that both Napolitano and Brown seem open to the idea of a public forum.

Kuoch-Seng added that the forum would likely be held at UC Davis because that campus is the ideal central location between Oakland and Sacramento, where the offices of Napolitano and Brown are located, respectively.

In conjunction with the request for a public forum, the UCSA also launched a public petition in order to further pressure Napolitano and Brown to participate. According to UCSA board chair Kevin Sabo, the petition had gathered more than a thousand signatures as of Friday.

In January, the UC Board of Regents established the Select Advisory Committee on the Cost Structure of the University — formally made up of Brown and Napolitano — to focus on university finances and cost structure.

But according to ASUC External Affairs Vice President Caitlin Quinn, who sits on the UCSA board, this committee of two has not been “readily accessible.” Quinn said she had not been invited to either of the two meetings between Brown and Napolitano and felt that both of them had not been accessible enough.

Evan Westrup, a spokesperson for Brown, said in an email that the committee “continue(s) to seek input from students through campus visits and meetings.”

He referenced a meeting Friday in Sacramento among UCSA executive board members, UC student body presidents and staff from the state Department of Finance.

Sabo noted that the meeting was mostly for “informational and fact-finding” purposes regarding a variety of UC issues, including online education and finances. He added that the public forum proposal was also discussed but that no agreements have been reached yet.

The UC Office of the President did not comment on the specifics of determining an alternative forum date.

Contact Natchapol Praditpetchara at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @natchapolp.

A previous version of this article stated that Caitlin Quinn attended two meetings with Brown and Napolitano. In fact, she was not invited to either of the two meetings.