UC Board of Regents discusses Native American repatriation, multiyear budgeting

UC Board of Regents/Courtesy

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The UC Board of Regents convened at UCLA on Wednesday to discuss a variety of issues, ranging from the repatriation of Native American remains to multiyear budgeting.

The UC’s cultural repatriation policy, which was last revised in 2001, requires that campuses consult with tribal authorities when acting upon repatriation requests. Tensions still exist, however, between Native American tribes and UC campuses over remains that are not identifiable by culture. During public comment, Mark Macarro, tribal chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians in the Temecula Valley, said the remains of Native American ancestors “still remain in ziploc bags on shelves.” Macarro added that as of June, UC Berkeley had only repatriated 313 of 10,000 remains.

UC President Janet Napolitano addressed the concerns during the Academic and Student Affairs Committee meeting, calling repatriation “a fundamental value” of the UC system. Regent John Pérez recounted his own experience protesting at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley, stating that “our history as a university is deeply flawed.”

“The written presentation (of the UC cultural repatriation policy) reinforces a long history of overly technical, overly legalistic and, in many ways, dehumanizing approaches to this question,” Perez said at the meeting. “It’s important that we look at this not only in a technical sense, but that we’re motivated by that broader sense of humanity and justice.”

Separately, members of the Compliance and Audit Committee heard from Robert May, chair of the Academic Senate, on the senate’s response to recommended sexual violence and sexual harassment procedures. Based on recommendations from the California State Auditor, disciplinary hearings of the accused should be scheduled to begin within 60 days of when the chancellor files charges, and the hearing committee should issue its recommendation to the chancellor no more than 30 days after the hearing concludes.

According to May, an ad hoc committee has been commissioned to define the Academic Senate’s bylaws to incorporate the auditor’s recommendations.

At the afternoon’s Finance and Capital Strategies Committee meeting, UC Office of the President, or UCOP, Chief Financial Officer Nathan Brostrom presented an update on the proposed 2019-20 budget. According to Brostrom, core funds — which comprise state funding as well as tuition and fees — have grown by 8 percent since 2001, but in the same period, the UC system has added more than 100,000 students. As a result, funding per student has decreased by 32 percent, causing bottlenecks in graduation rates for certain majors and worsening the student-to-faculty ratio across UC campuses.

David Alcocer, UCOP associate vice president for budget analysis and planning, added that there was a decline in the number of undergraduate students who were satisfied with their UC experience. Alcocer noted that many students did not know a single faculty member well enough to ask for a letter of recommendation, which he attributed to campus budget cuts.

“The key in everything we’re looking at is trying to provide stability and predictability in all of our revenue sources,” Brostrom said at the meeting. “We’re in a solid foundation now, but we really need to build on that to maintain access and quality for current students.”

Contact Revati Thatte at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @revati_thatte.