Illustration by Rachel Edelstein.
Illustration by Rachel Edelstein.

You Can.

These hopeful words have been stained with disappointment.

Yudof’s recent undertaking, Project You Can, is a University of California-wide student scholarship fundraising effort to help alleviate financial stress on low-income students.

It aims to raise $1 billion in the next four years — doubling the collective amount raised for students in the past five years — for student financial aid, mostly by soliciting alumni and friends of UC for donations.

On the internet site,, donations can be made to individual campuses. While the program’s goals are ambitious and optimistic, the project is ultimately an ill-advised attempt to cover up a significantly larger systematic and budgetary problem.

By aiming for $1 billion dollars, UC is bound to fall short, but at the same time, achieve more compared to past fundraising efforts.

The program’s flaws lie in the expected process of donating. Because private donors are providing the contributions, all money gets allocated to a specific UC campus, rather than to the entire system.

UC Santa Cruz will see markedly less donations compared to flagship UCs with a greater alumni base, like UCLA and UC Berkeley.

This “new” system is hardly any different from the donation system already in place. Without a significant change in the way UC operates and garners donations, we don’t expect to see a significant change in the amount of donations that actually come in, either.

“While what I have proposed today will allow us to preserve access and help students with financial need, they are not a substitute for adequate state support,” Yudof said at the program’s announcement on Oct. 23. “We must continue our relentless advocacy in Sacramento for increased state funding, even while we explore new ways to increase support for the university and our students.”

State support for higher education has become virtually nonexistent, and while short-term solutions like this program may alleviate the strain temporarily, UC students and faculty need a plan that will help in the long-term.

Furthermore, University trustees and regents need to pursue programs that have high potential to benefit California higher education in the long run.

AB 656, better known as the Torrico Bill, would impose a 9.9 percent oil severance tax on California oil extraction from land and water. It has the potential to generate $1.2 billion annually for California State University, University of California and community colleges.

This bill has received nowhere near enough support from trustees to make it through the California State Assembly.

Endorsing a plan such as Project You Can, while simultaneously kicking efforts like the Torrico Bill to the curb, is not only insulting to California’s public education system, but painful for everyone fighting to save the UC.

Yudof, the regents and the state government need to take this situation seriously and stop masking financial issues with unrealistic, watered-down plans that will only graze the surface of the problem for the short-term.

Durable solutions must be accessed and supported. They are the only hope we have to escape this budget hellhole.

Project You Can is a weak bandage on a much more grave injury, and California’s higher education deserves much better than that. While this bandage may temporarily hold, our educations depend upon seeking other, longer-term remedies.