Two weeks ago Peter Taylor, chief financial officer at the University of California Office of the President, published an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle. In the op-ed, Taylor accused University of California students of being unqualified to understand UC financial policies, calling the “ miscalculations” of students “ outrageous.”
City on a Hill Press would like to respond to Mr. Taylor’s article by asking him where his support lies? Considering his recent decision to insult the very students who provide him with employment, an answer to this question is all the more relevant.
Taylor sought to justify the university’s use of three interest rate “ swaps” on borrowed money to expand university medical centers. According to Taylor’s op-ed, “ swaps exist to insulate borrowers such as UC from volatile interest rates.”
Taylor went on to cite a recent study conducted by UC graduate students who claim that interest rate “ swaps” are not the best way of saving money.
Taylor responded to this claim by stating, “ As much as I love Shakespeare, I don’t pretend to be qualified to teach a class on his works. Similarly, the students who have criticized the university’s policies should understand that just because they are in graduate school doesn’t mean they are experts in everything … Indeed, if this level of ‘research’ were produced for a class on finance, it would merit an ‘F’.”
We do not necessarily take issue with the policies Taylor has enacted. We hold him to the degree of respect that his position deserves, but it is an outrage when a chief financial officer blatantly insults students.
We are opposed to any university official who promotes the notion that students are incapable of understanding policy decisions that affect them. Moreover, we oppose the way this university official made his point. Insulting students is hardly good policy.
If anything, it is Taylor’s responsibility to ensure that students clearly understand the economic decisions made by administrators whom students entrust their money. And it is the university’s responsibility to train their students to understand these complex issues. Questioning students’ abilities calls into question not just those students’ level of research, as Taylor points out, but also the UC’s ability to educate.
Taylor’s approach only furthers the nonsensical mentality that students should stay out of affairs involving their own money. The university needs to strive toward greater transparency in the actions of its administrators and needs to create an environment of open ideas. This is not done through insult and mockery.
For the University of California to achieve greater transparency at the administrative level, it is essential to consider the opinions and thoughts of its students as relevant. When ideas are rudely dismissed, officials demote themselves and inexcusably fail to create vital transparency for both today’s and tomorrow’s students.