Spring quarter is the time of year when campus tour buses begin their rounds and guides show potential undergraduates all that UC Santa Cruz has to offer, yet the state chooses not to support the groups that try to bring diversity to UC campuses that have been lacking it for years.
Students from Engaging Education (E-squared), a Student Initiated Outreach (SIO) program and retention center that is geared towards students of color, have expressed their frustration at Governor Schwarzenegger’s decision to cut almost $19.3 million in funding to outreach programs across the UC campuses.
While the state legislature will certainly overturn this decision during the May revision of the state budget, the Governor is sending a message that diversity on UC campuses is not one of his priorities.
This is a mistake.
Nearly 500 UCSC students and newly admitted high school students voiced that minority opinion at the Bay Tree Plaza last Friday, joining students at multiple UC campuses.
According to University of California Admissions statistics, underrepresented student groups make up 23 percent of the UC undergraduate population. If the goal is to have diversity amongst University of California campuses, than the Governor sure has a funny way of showing it to students.
For three straight years, the governor has effectively tried to eliminate Academic Preparation Programs and SIO by cutting off their funding, and it has taken yearly intervention from the legislature to keep it around.
It has gotten to the point where it is not even a question for the legislature because they have gone against the governor and restored funding to outreach and retention programs in the May revision every single time.
When City on a Hill Press asked Chancellor Blumenthal about the Rally and cuts to SIO programs last Friday, he threw his support behind the students.
“There are a number of SIO programs from this campus that have been extremely effective,” Blumenthal said. “The chancellor’s offices have been providing a bulk of that funding and I remain committed to Student Initiated Outreach.”
The governor should listen to students of color, the state Legislature, and Chancellor Blumenthal, and stop trying to take away what little services are available for these students.
The excuse from the governor’s administration has always been that outreach and retention programs need to prove that they are successful, but there are no other programs that are aimed at preparing students of color to gain access to a university education and stay in college.
In the end, there are no more excuses. It would behoove Governor Schwarzenegger to support the programs that will not only create a more diverse UC, but have an educated population that reflects the diversity of California.