The University House opened its doors last Wednesday night as students were given the opportunity to voice their concerns to UC Santa Cruz administrators at the “Appetizers with Administrators” event.

Presented by the Student Union Assembly (SUA) Office of External Affairs, the event brought together several important figures including Chancellor George Blumenthal, Executive vice chancellor (EVC) Alison Galloway and Santa Cruz Mayor Lynn Robinson. Groups of about two or three administrators gathered around individual tables, where students rotated according to who they wished to speak to. Students in attendance discussed topics such as the revival of the Quarry Amphitheater, course tuition, California’s drought, SUA’s proposed music festival and general financial matters in regard to budgeting for such events.

Both EVC Galloway and Mayor Lynn Robinson shared their own methods of conserving water while Chancellor Blumenthal spoke about future renovations on campus.
“I’m working on taking shorter showers, and I don’t wash my car — I wait for it to rain,” EVC Galloway said from one side of the room. A table or two over, Chancellor Blumenthal spoke about funding for the development of the amphitheater.

“Fundraising [to fix the Quarry] is our top priority,” Chancellor Blumenthal said. “Money needs to be raised to make sure it’s ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compatible and things like seating and restrooms are updated.”

Across the room, SUA Internal Vice Chair Max Hufft listed potential names for the music festival — among them “Slugstock” and “Slugapalooza” — while associate vice chancellor of Risk and Safety Services Jean Marie Scott expressed ideas over the quarry’s expected improvements.

Although open to the general public, the event saw mostly SUA representatives, and the turnout was not as popular as intended­, with about only 30 students signing the guest list.

“Obviously we would have liked more students,” said SUA External Vice Chair and principal coordinator and creator of the event Tony Milgram. “We go through social media like Facebook and Twitter, we send out campuswide emails, all to build a direct relationship with students. The most I can do is [continue to] put on events and hope people come out.” This problem is familiar to SUA members, who have been attempting to increase student participation in campuswide political affairs. There is a disconnect with administrators and students, the latter often believing the former make only arbitrary decisions, Milgram said. He organized “Appetizers with Administrators” to help facilitate more communication between students and administrators, demonstrating an ease with which students can share and advocate their concerns.

“Administrators aren’t these mystical creatures making decisions without student input,” Milgram said. “Students do have the opportunity to talk to them, and that was the purpose of this event. Hopefully, we’ll try to recreate [‘Appetizers with Administrators’] in the future.” Vice chairman of the Board of Regents Fred Ruiz was also in attendance at the event. Ruiz said he was impressed with SUA’s dedication in bringing the community together and emphasizing importance of campus affairs.

“It’s unfortunate more regents couldn’t come,” Ruiz said. “The experience was helpful and rewarding. I’m impressed — Santa Cruz is a shining star.” One of Ruiz’s most important initiatives is increasing diversity across all UC campuses. His presence at the event placed this concern at the forefront of all discussions among attendees. Ruiz is keeping an eye on the growing diversity on our campus and on the ways administrators, as well as students, are working to enforce that growth, Milgram said. Milgram encouraged Ruiz to continue visiting other UC campuses across the state and suggest the same to his colleagues. Ruiz said he looks forward to “reporting all of this” back at his next regents meeting as well as visiting other schools and asking his partners to follow suit.

“Appetizers with Administrators” relayed important information concerning students, to students. Although interested in the well-being of the student body and their respective campuses, Ruiz expressed there is difficulty in facilitating communication between students and administrators. Events such as “Appetizers with Administrators” aim to eliminate that gap. “We [as regents] really care for students and their campuses, we work hard for them, but we do not get the chance to develop a relationship because we don’t see each other as much as we should,” Ruiz said. “Events like these are time well spent and are important for both students and for regents.”

Milgram said he is looking to recreate the event quarterly, with the hope of bringing a different regent every time. He, along with all of the SUA staff, encourage all to attend in the future.