State audit hearings betray flamboyant grandstanding tactics

UNIVERSITY ISSUES: Students shouldn’t side with UCOP or the state in recent state audit spectacle

Willow Yang/Senior Staff

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Who would’ve thought that people in positions of authority would lie?

The state and UCs both, as public institutions and power players, are accountable to the public for representing accurate information (and not #FakeNews), but in the wake of the recent state audit, both the state and UC President Janet Napolitano’s office are disagreeing with each other over what should be simple facts.

The state audit claims to have revealed $175 million in undisclosed reserves. The UC Office of the President claims $38 million is being kept as reserves, while $83 million is being used for restricted funds and $49 million was previously allocated and disclosed to the regents for programs the public was made aware of.

In direct opposition to this, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and others decry a lack of transparency to the regents and to the public. They also believe Napolitano’s office directly tried to inhibit the audit, but both sides disagree about what role her office had in explaining or obfuscating budget material.

It’s absurd that these two public institutions are fighting over the validity of such basic facts. This has become a public shouting match, embarrassing for everyone involved. The mess of the hearings speaks to a lack of coordination as well as professionalism. Perhaps these showy disagreements should’ve been resolved before the audit was published.

But that’s wishful thinking, as this sort of theatrical bickering happens every year in one form or another between the UCOP and state officials. Over the years, it has often appeared that the state audit works diligently to undermine the UC, as if to suggest budgetary woes could be solved without increased state funding.

And what are students supposed to do? Trust the UC system as it swindles them out of money? Or perhaps the state that defunded higher education in the first place?

Both parties in the last month have used students as rhetorical bargaining chips, taking moral high ground against each other for caring little about the welfare of UC students. But they’ve never really made students a priority, and pretending to do so now is a sham. Yes, fight among yourselves, just don’t put students in the crosshairs.

There are these big transparency issues in the UC, but if the regents and the state had involved more UC students in the first place, they would already know that. It’s to students, and not to state officials, that the onus of accountability lies.

Maybe students shouldn’t take a side. Neither the UC system nor the state is on the students’ side anyway.

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