UC Board of Regents discusses proposed UC budget, basic needs

Amber Tang/Staff

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The UC Board of Regents discussed the proposed 2019-20 UC budget as well as basic needs and seismic safety on UC campuses at its meeting at UCSF Mission Bay on Thursday.

The proposed UC budget will be shown to the California Department of Finance in advance of Gov. Jerry Brown’s January state budget proposal. The UC’s priorities in its budget plan include expanding access to higher education, improving degree attainment, addressing urgent capital needs and keeping the UC affordable.

UC student enrollment has increased by 59 percent since 2000, though available core funds have only increased by 10 percent, resulting in a 31 percent decrease in funding per student, according to UCOP Chief Financial Officer Nathan Brostrom.

Student Regent Devon Graves expressed concern that basic needs funding was not incorporated into the proposed budget. The UC Governance and Compensation Committee approved the creation of a Special Committee on Basic Needs, which would be tasked with developing a long-term plan to address basic needs, during its Wednesday meeting.

“I just find it a little concerning that we’ve established a basic needs committee … yet we’re not making a funding request for those programs and services,” Graves said. “We’re just hoping that money is going to come from somewhere.”

Chancellor Carol Christ said UC Berkeley faces unique challenges regarding capital needs, given that it is the oldest UC campus and is situated on an active fault line. In the next 10 years, the campus will need to spend an estimated $2 billion on seismic and deferred maintenance projects, Christ added.

Of the campus’s 603 buildings, 372 have been seismically rated, of which 78 were rated as “poor” or “very poor,” including Evans Hall, according to Christ.

By 2023, the UC system as a whole will be setting aside an estimated $134 million of state general funds annually for debt service, according to Christ. If these funds were allocated toward campus operating budgets instead, Christ said, Berkeley’s share would be about $20 million.

“We’ve currently increased the number of students in the last five years on the Berkeley campus by 12 percent,” Christ said at the meeting. “Our faculty has shrunk by 1 percent. $20 million would allow us to add 80 faculty.”

During the meeting’s public comment, UC Student Association President Caroline Siegel-Singh discussed the importance of focusing on relationships within the UC system.

Relationships between graduate students and faculty mentors, which can often result in power imbalances, she said, should be more closely monitored. The relationship between state legislators and the UC is also one that needs to be improved, she added.

“This is the time to make it clear that an investment in the UC is an investment in the future of California,” Siegel-Singh said. “The workers, students, faculty are all constituents of the state who deserve investment.”

Contact Amber Tang and Mallika Seshadri at [email protected].