‘A global, diverse world’: UC regents discuss student advocacy, nonresident student experience

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Deep dives into the student experience and continued budgetary advocacy dominated discussions at Wednesday’s UC Board of Regents meeting.

Several people at public comment during the board meeting brought up figures from UC’s recently released admissions data, which showed an increase in transfers overall but a decrease in the number of transfers admitted to UC Berkeley specifically. Students also urged the regents to include students in budgetary efforts at earlier stages and emphasized taking the student experience into account.

According to UC President Janet Napolitano, the funds from the state budget — signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on June 27 — will allow the UC Office of the President, or UCOP, to recommend that in-state tuition remain flat for the upcoming academic year. Additionally, the money will be used to roll back in-state tuition by $60.

The rollback will not affect nonresident tuition, which the board voted to increase in March.

“I want to recognize our students, alumni, faculty, staff, regents and friends of the university for their tireless advocacy efforts on behalf of the UC,” Napolitano said at the meeting. “Your voices were heard and your actions made a real difference in further securing UC’s financial future.”

Outgoing UC Student Association President Judith Gutierrez and incoming Vice President of External Affairs for the ASUC of San Diego Caroline Siegel-Singh gave a presentation to the board about the importance of social media in advocacy, particularly the #FundtheUC campaign.

Gutierrez and Siegel-Singh also cited repeated student attendance at budget hearings as a key factor in persuading the legislature to increase funding. According to Singh, UC students outnumbered staff and lobbyists at most budget hearings.

“The takeaway of this presentation is to institutionalize these advocacy efforts,” Gutierrez said at the meeting. “That way, we avoid reinventing the wheel every time students take new office.”

At the morning board meeting, Napolitano said the board would discuss multiyear budgeting Thursday, which is intended to help families plan ahead and allow the regents to “look more strategically at the future of the UC.”

Planning multiple years in the future would prevent the possibility of postponing budget proposals. In a previous interview with The Daily Californian, UCOP spokesperson Stephanie Beechem confirmed that postponing the tuition vote in January also postponed the UC’s budget confirmation.

As part of former student regent Paul Monge’s effort to make the student experience more accessible to the regents, the Academic and Student Affairs Committee heard from a panel that included Chancellor Carol Christ and former ASUC external affairs vice president Rigel Robinson regarding nonresident students at UC campuses.

Robinson recalled walking onto campus his freshman year and seeing newspaper headlines that said the UC was phasing out nonresident financial aid and, later, capping nonresident enrollment.

“To students, the message these developments send is that they aren’t welcome — that the university isn’t really interested in being a home to nonresident students, but does see the potential revenue that can be generated out of them,” said Robinson, a Missouri native, at the meeting.

Christ said that having out-of-state and international students on campus benefits in-state students, as about 80 percent of in-state UC students do not study abroad. The interaction with nonresident students, Christ noted, allows California residents to learn about diverse points of view.

In discussion, however, Regent Eloy Ortiz Oakley noted how international students’ enrollment in the UC system has increased from 5.2 percent in 2008 to 17.2 percent in 2017, yet the cost of attending a UC as an international student is three times that of a California resident student. Oakley, who is also the California Community Colleges chancellor, said at the meeting that he was concerned about the income diversity among international students.

Christ then noted that nations other than the U.S. place higher value on higher education, and that there are cases in which students from lower socioeconomic statuses receive support from their respective home nations. She also suggested that another way to support international students of poorer socioeconomic backgrounds would be to direct state funds toward financial aid for international students.

During the National Laboratories Subcommittee, members discussed the awarding of the Los Alamos National Laboratory management contract. In the morning, members from the UC Student-Workers Union protested against UC’s mishandling of sexual misconduct cases.

“We live in a global, diverse world where we must live and work with people from different places who have a wide range of perspectives and life experiences,” Christ said at the meeting.

Sakura Cannestra is the executive news editor and Revati Thatte is an assistant news editor. Contact them at [email protected]ycal.org.