Earlier this year, President Janet Napolitano completed an interview with six UC student newspapers in which she defended a 2.5 percent tuition hike in order to “maintain quality” across the public university system. She reiterated that the hike was a “last resort” and, in response to a question from UC Santa Cruz’s student newspaper, City on a Hill Press, said the UC had been “doing quite a bit of belt-tightening.” Unfortunately, as is our experience with public officials across the political continuum, what really happens is often in stark contradiction to what they say.
According to a report released recently by California State Auditor Elaine Howle, one could only rationally conclude that if the university does face a problem, it is certainly not one of deficiencies in funds. The audit revealed that President Napolitano and her associates accumulated $175 million (!) in reserve funds, all of which were not disclosed to the state legislature, the Board of Regents or the public at large. To put that sum of money into perspective, Assemblymember Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, chairman of the budget committee, stated that if the $175 million had been directed toward student enrollment, more than 35,000 additional students could have attended UC schools. Even liberal Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom felt the need to sharply criticize the lack of transparency of President Napolitano’s office. “It’s outrageous and unjust,” he said, “to force tuition hikes on students while the UC hides secret funds.” Do you still think that, with such a massive amount of money being taken accumulated by the office of the President, we need to raise tuitions to maintain quality of experience across the university system?
The audit also found that in the fiscal year 2014-15, the 10 executives of Napolitano’s office were paid a total of $3.7 million, “over $700,000 more than the combined salaries of their highest paid state employee counterparts.” As an example, the chief financial officer for the UC makes $412,000 while the California State University system’s counterpart makes $341,000. The Sacramento Bee reported that President Napolitano used an innovative method of requesting approval for budgets that were significantly larger than what her office was likely to spend. These surplus funds were then used by the President’s office to be spent on “projects of its choice.”
In response, the President’s office decided to play to the insanity of the left and claim that the money was used to “increase support” for illegal alien students and in efforts to “prevent sexual violence and sexual harassment.” She claimed that her office was only sitting on $38 million while the rest had been committed to projects that reflected “university priorities” and provided a multitude of press releases, regents meetings and news stories as evidence. However, as the auditor notes, the office of the president could not provide a comprehensive list of all their programs, their value to the university or how much they costed. Could it be that the funds were used in an entirely justifiable manner? Possibly. But if the president’s office genuinely believes that they could spin their actions by appealing to the left’s favorite victim groups, they presume an incredible level of naivete among a student body that is crippled by continual tuition hikes and, as a result, is highly skeptical of the administration’s actions.
The very first piece I wrote in this newspaper, before my column, was a response to President Napolitano’s lukewarm defense of free speech rights in a column she wrote for the Boston Globe. It critiqued her creative redefinition of safe spaces and trigger warnings as mechanisms to foster inclusivity instead of the censorious tools that they really are. I ended that piece by stating that I hoped that she would live up to her obligations and her promises in her op-ed by being a fighter against campus censorship. Unfortunately, as I have pointed out in column after column, she has failed to live up to that commitment. Add to that her ability to say with a straight face that she had no choice but to raise tuitions on students who already struggle to pay those fees while herself siphoning off large quantities of public funds makes the prospect of her staying in the office she currently occupies morally repugnant. I believe that, if the UC president cannot provide an appropriate justification for amassing of those funds and their dissipation, then we have now reached the point where it might be necessary to initiate the procedures necessary to remove President Napolitano from office.
As some of my most diligent readers have noted, this is my last column in this esteemed newspaper. While my fellow students are now pumping their veins with caffeine as they study for finals, I have had some time to reflect on my time at The Daily Californian. Looking back on this semester, I feel proud of the stance I have taken for free speech regardless of the hysterical backlash I have received from doing so. From the day I told my editor that I was an avowed conservative and he should not hire me if my views made him uncomfortable to today, I have gone after renowned Berkeley figures, campus liberals, feminists, safe spaces, trigger warnings and non-existent racism. It was not my objective to be bipartisan or to build some sort of consensus. I wished to state my opinion regardless of whether that would bring more people to the conservative fold or alienate the entire student body. I would like to thank my readers for the countless emails that I have received: from alumni telling me that they would no longer donate to this school after witnessing what it had turned into, to the criticism I received from all corners. I leave this newspaper a better columnist as a result of your praise and criticism. On that note, thank you for everything and best of luck for finals.