UC Berkeley chancellor talks housing, diversity, ranking for upcoming year

Jihoon Park/File

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A combination of persisting hot-button issues and new initiatives shapes UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ’s comprehensive agenda for the 2019-20 academic year.

Christ sat down with staff members of The Daily Californian on Aug. 22 to discuss some of the most pressing issues affecting the campus. Among these issues are increasing units of housing, keeping the budget balanced, implementing diversity task forces for undergraduate and graduate admissions and tending to the basic needs of students.

Housing

According to Christ, housing is the “single greatest need the campus has” and is an issue with the potential of “compromis(ing) the attractiveness of Berkeley as a place to go to school.”

In a 2017 campus-commissioned survey, 10 percent of students said they had experienced homelessness at some point while attending UC Berkeley. 

Christ addressed the planned land usages of Oxford Tract and People’s Park — both of which have been highly controversial. She emphasized the importance of developing land in light of the urgent need for housing and hopes that it will be a means to mitigate both housing and food insecurities. 

“We are very much hoping with the Oxford Tract to develop a plan and commit to CNR (College of Natural Resources) … that we retain research capabilities within close proximity,” Christ said.

While Christ emphasized the importance of maintaining Oxford Tract’s research capabilities, she did not have a similar stance on People’s Park.

“I don’t think the park in its current state is benefiting anybody,” Christ said.

Ranking

Christ also commented on the recent news of UC Berkeley being “unranked” on the U.S. News & World Report’s list of top colleges, saying she does not believe it will affect campus pride or public opinion of the school.  

She added that the campus discovered and reported the error itself, and criticized the annually updated criteria that U.S. News & World Report uses to rank universities on the grounds that “colleges don’t change that quickly.” 

Christ said UC Berkeley will appear on the list again this fall, but made it clear that a ranking does not define the campus.  

“I think it’s ridiculous that you can make an ordinal ranking of schools,” Christ said. “It’s not like they’re sports teams that have a win/loss record.” 

Diversity 

Along with its most diverse freshman class to date, UC Berkeley has also admitted an “extraordinary” group of diverse faculty and deans, according to Christ.

Christ plans to hold a campus discussion of the recommendations put forth by three working groups considering undergraduate student diversity this year. 

To maintain continued diversity across campus, Christ added that she plans to “redouble efforts at outreach” to “yield a stronger relationship with high schools.”

Upcoming developments

Development of Moffett Federal Airfield, alcohol at California Memorial Stadium, a police advisory board and more access to research opportunities are smaller action items on Christ’s agenda for this year.

Christ hopes to expand new space science extension programs in partnership with NASA’s Ames Research Center to a 36-acre portion of Moffett Field in Mountain View, California. She also hopes to develop more opportunities for research by increasing volume and giving programs more funding.

At a more local level, heightened levels of security and spirits are in store for California Memorial Stadium. The addition of metal detectors and more alcohol will be new developments to look out for this semester.

“Alcohol is, frankly, money-making,” Christ said. “It’s an experiment. We’ll see how it goes.”

Contact Amanda Bradford and Alexandra Casey at [email protected].