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Blame on university for lack of state funding justified

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APRIL 01, 2016

We, the Senior Editorial Board of The Daily Californian, want to extend our most gracious thanks to the state auditor for spending 400,000 tax dollars to compile a report criticizing the University of California’s money management and admissions practices.

The audit revealed a shocking truth: The university has ramped up nonresident enrollment in order to get more funding. The University of California should solely serve students whose taxpayer dollars have, year after year, funded the UC system. We’ve been dying to wave goodbye to every out-of-state student, along with the 800 million extra dollars that they bring to the university.

But the state audit didn’t fail to consider the budgetary shortfalls that might be worsened if out-of-state enrollment were capped. In fact, it brilliantly recommended that the university look into its spending, including salaries, and consider making budget cuts to help alleviate the budget crisis.

Again, we agree. And we think there’s a lot of room for the university to make some completely benign and noncontroversial spending cuts. For example, our campus could save money by cutting the public health major or dissolving the College of Chemistry. Moreover, using electricity in classrooms even while iPhone flashlights and the brilliance of student minds could adequately illuminate the workspace is another place where our campus could make badly needed cuts. As the saying goes: Fiat Lux.

And to curb the rising spending on salaries that the auditor pointed to, the university could lower its systemwide minimum wage and outsource more workers. Ultimately, California public higher education is all about educating California students at any cost, even if that means giving employees scant wages.

The biggest problem that the audit identifies is that the university has relaxed out-of-state admissions standards in a selfish attempt to get more money. And the university’s counterclaim — that it hasn’t relaxed standards but has instead moved away from solely using SAT scores and GPAs to determine the quality of a student — holds little merit. We want an admissions process that focuses primarily on raw numbers, thereby favoring those with time and money to take SAT prep classes and hire tutors throughout high school. When it comes to creating a great academic environment, homogeneity is key.

The audit brushed over state funding as a possible source of the problems it points out — and for good reason. We applaud the state for accurately stripping itself of any and all blame in this issue. It’s time for the university to stop acting like insufficient state funding is a legitimate excuse for budgetary problems.

April Fools shenanigans aside, we recognize the problem of California’s public university system failing to make space for in-state students and believe the state auditor’s analysis makes valid points — such as its suggestion to cut the salaries of UC executives. Yet, it would behoove the state and the university to collaborate further rather than continue to publicize conflicting reports.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Senior Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.

APRIL 06, 2016