The UC Regents need to get in touch with the students they supposedly represent. Over the past few years, the UC system has slowly moved its way towards a privatized, more expensive education system that has put education farther out of reach for thousands of students.
This has all been discussed and decided within the confines of UC San Francisco, a good distance away from many schools that want to be represented or take part in these discussions. UCSF is a graduate school that recieves over 100 percent of its educational fees back. This favortism towards graduate campuses excludes all the undergrads that make up the majority of the UC system. Regents should return to the policy of rotating to a different campus for each of their six meetings every year. This would allow them to hear more student perspectives during public comment sessions, as they weigh our futures.
This past year, students have voiced their disapproval with protests and strikes across the state, both on campuses and at the capital. But the regents aren’t getting the hint. Recently, a member of the UC Commission on the Future pitched an idea of annual fee increases ranging anywhere from 5 to 15 percent over the next five years. This proposal comes at a time when the UC system is experiencing the largest fee increase in its history.
Nothing is for sure, and members of the commission have made this clear with the inclusion of a disclaimer underneath the policy suggestions. It reads, “Nothing in this policy constitutes a contract, an offer of a contract, or a promise that any fees ultimately authorized by The Regents will be limited by any term or provision of this policy.” But the fact that the regents are even considering a new fee increase is unacceptable and frightening.
The regents will do what they please to push the UCs toward their vision, and from the looks of it they plan to do so without consulting the student populace. Aside from the much-ignored public comment portion of the regent meetings, during which Richard Blum usually ends up asleep at the wheel, the only way student opinions are expressed and accounted for is through the one student regent on the panel. It’s not the fact that students across the state are not speaking their minds, it’s the fact that the regents don’t care to listen, and would prefer to pursue their own goals and visions.
The regents need to recognize that students are not going to tolerate having their fees increased again while their voices continue to go unheard. Students want to have a say in where their money goes. They should not have to see their fees increased by a group of undemocratically appointed officials who do not have the students’ best interests in mind.
The UCs have seen some positive changes due to the protests — most notably when the governor cited student activism as an influence in his decision to cut prison spending in order to increase finances towards public education. The regents should look to continue this momentum in the state by working to push education bills like Assembly Bill 656, which imposes a gas and oil tax on any producer and puts that money back into public education. Instead they are looking for ways to dip back into the students’ pockets.
The regents need to use the student population as an asset and an ally, and raising our fees again is not the way to do it. Not giving us a reasonable amount of say in decisions that affect our whole system is not the way to do it. We need to come together to build a UC system that reflects what we all want, not just what the regents believe to be best.