UC Board of Regents discusses tuition, UC Health, small businesses

photo of a large zoom meeting
UC Board of Regents/Courtesy
At its Thursday meeting, the UC Board of Regents discussed the UC Health strategic plan, a small business program and a tuition increase plan. 

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During its virtual meeting Thursday, the UC Board of Regents discussed the UC Health strategic plan, a small business program and a tuition increase plan.

The meeting began with public comment, which featured concerns on the need for more staff and personal and protective equipment at UC hospitals and students speaking against the development of People’s Park and 1921 Walnut St. Mills College alumni also asked the regents to not take any actions that would jeopardize the efforts of students and alumni trying to preserve the university during the public comment period.

Following public comment, the presidents of the UC Student Association, or UCSA, and the UC Graduate and Professional Council spoke against the tuition increase plan, which was discussed later in the meeting.

“We don’t oppose tuition increases just for the sake of opposition,” said Aidan Arasasingham, UCSA president, at the meeting. “We oppose tuition increases because they erode our fundamental vision for the UC, not as a private product but as a public good.”

The board also heard the strategic plan for UC Health from Carrie Byington, executive vice president of UC Health. The plan features 12 goals, including advancing diversity and inclusion, strengthening health policies and improving access to UC Health services across campuses.

Following the presentation, Regent Michael Cohen brought up concerns about UC Health affiliations. Several other regents also raised these concerns, primarily around what procedures are offered at hospitals and why certain procedures are not given to patients.

Byington said not every hospital can perform every procedure and added that an interim policy has been implemented where she and the general counsel review affiliation contracts.

The board then heard a presentation on the Small Business Forward program, which seeks to increase the UC system’s spending on small and diverse businesses and streamline the process for businesses that want to partner with the UC system.

“Small businesses have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” William Cooper, associate vice president and chief procurement officer, said at the meeting. “As UC plays such an integral part in the state’s economy, it’s imperative that we extend a lifeline to our small business.”

Then, the board heard a presentation on a cohort-based tuition increase plan. The plan would increase tuition for each cohort of incoming undergraduate students and keep that for that class for six years.

The proposal says it will help create more tuition stability and predictability, revenue for the UC system and financial aid for students.

Student Regent-designate Alexis Zaragoza also brought up concerns around the struggles many low-income students already face in getting financial aid.

“There are plenty of students who fall between the cracks,” Zaragoza said at the meeting. “And those students who fall between the cracks are not so small a population that we should not be paying attention to them.”

Afterward, the Special Committee on Nominations announced that Regent Cecilia Estolano will be the chair of the board next year and that Regent Richard Leib will be the vice chair.

The board concluded the meeting by adopting resolutions in honor of leaving regents, including alumni Regent Eric Mart, student Regent Jamaal Muwwakkil and alumni Regent Debby Stegura. The board also adopted a resolution in honor of a board alumnus, Bruce Varner, who died recently.

Mela Seyoum is a student government reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @melaseyoum.