As students and their families struggle to pay ever-increasing tuition costs, UC executives watch their wallets bloat. While university executives are granting themselves and their peers larger paychecks, students are pouring money into a system that cannot even guarantee them access to classes, professors and teaching assistants.
But a new piece of legislation, authored by California State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), aims to address such financial irresponsibility by restricting UC and CSU executives from receiving pay increases in years of tuition hikes or state budget cuts.
Such legislation could not have come at a more appropriate time — 12 UC administrators and attorneys received salary increases in December, ranging from 6.4 percent to 23 percent — but it is only a glimmer of hope.
While CSU executives would legally be bound by the bill if it passed, the UC would not be forced to comply, according to reports from The Daily Californian, UC Berkeley’s student-run paper. The UC is outside the control of the state legislator, so the bill serves as more of a suggestion than a rule.
Respecting the UC’s autonomy — because this isn’t a question of whether or not the UC should be autonomous, though Yee has previously attempted to bring the system under the state legislature — it is nonetheless important that the UC follow the guidelines laid out by the bill if it is passed into law.
This is a question of fairness: Is it fair that students watch the accessibility and diversity of their education dwindle while executives grant themselves unnecessary (and arguably undeserved) compensation?
December’s salary increases have been justified by the regents.
“UC President Mark G. Yudof and other UC leaders defended the raises, saying even during an economic crisis the 10-campus university system with 180,000 employees needs to retain and recruit top staff and faculty,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
But such an argument seems arbitrary when students do not even have access to such “top staff and faculty” because they cannot enroll in their already overcrowded classes. Furthermore, when UC representatives necessitate pay increases to continue recruiting such grade-A faculty and staff, they indirectly spin such decisions as ones made for the good of the student body.
It is hard to understand how executives’ already engorged pay will benefit the students, many of whom work multiple jobs just to scrape by while attending university.
If Leland’s bill passes, executives at the UC should adhere to its guidelines and prioritize students — and prioritize them in a way that doesn’t manifest itself in growing six-figure salaries.