UC Regents to vote on new retirement plan, revised intolerance policy

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The UC Board of Regents will convene Wednesday and Thursday to vote on a new retirement plan and a newly revised intolerance policy for the UC system and to discuss updates on mental health resources on UC campuses.

If approved, UC President Janet Napolitano’s retirement plan, aimed at ensuring the university’s long-term financial stability, would save an estimated $99 million annually, according to UC spokesperson Kate Moser. The plan affects UC employees hired on or after July 1, providing them with the opportunity to choose between two pension plans, both of which establish limitations on pensionable earnings.

Many members of the UC community have expressed dissatisfaction with Napolitano’s proposal. In a letter to Napolitano last month, the UC Academic Senate criticized the proposal, instead asserting that the university’s current retirement plan is more beneficial to faculty.

Also on the agenda is an item regarding the effects of an increase in staffing and funding for mental health services across the UC system. The motion was initially proposed in September 2014 by Regina Fleming, medical director of the university’s Student Health Insurance Program, and instituted a 5 percent increase in annual student services fees to help fund an increase in UC mental health services.

The university is in the process of hiring about 80 new clinicians systemwide, according to Moser. On Wednesday, Fleming will present a summary of the mental health staff to be hired on each campus to the regents.

According to Jeff Prince, director of counseling and psychological services at the campus’s Tang Center, UC Berkeley has already begun the process of interviewing potential new hires. The Tang Center is looking to recruit a number of psychologists, clinical social workers, a psychiatric nurse practitioner and multiple psychiatrists, he said.

Prince believes that the next step would be to focus on providing more preventive and educational mental health services on campuses.

“I think this is really exciting for students, and I think it will make a big difference to student access,” Prince said.

The regents will also discuss and vote Wednesday on the adoption of a new policy statement recommended by the regents’ Working Group on Principles Against Intolerance. The working group was created in the fall in response to numerous instances of anti-Semitism reported across the UC system.

Josh Woznica, president of the campus’s Jewish Student Union, said he has personally met with students who have experienced anti-Semitism on and around campus. Woznica said he is grateful to the regents for considering the policy, adding that he hopes more students report discriminatory incidents and are aware of the range of resources available to them on campus.

The statement, however, has been met with criticism from other campus students. Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Berkeley member David McCleary, for example, previously decried the policy, stating that it conflated anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism.

On Thursday, the regents will discuss an audit of the university’s financial statements and UCSF’s request of $21 million in preliminary funding for the construction of a new neurosciences institute, among other items.

Harini Shyamsundar is the lead higher education reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @hshyamsundar.