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Regents Vote to Not Divest from Fossil Fuels

During a meeting in September, the UC Regents voted against divestment from fossil fuels after a task force, convened by chief investment officer (CIO) Jagdeep Singh Bachher, presented several recommendations. The report he presented included the need for a “more holistic approach” when considering social and environmental impacts regarding the university’s investments.

Divestment movements have spread to more than 300 campuses nationally. In April, UC Santa Cruz’s Student Union Assembly voted to pass a resolution calling for the divestment from fossil fuel assets in the $6.5 billion UC General Endowment Pool. Activists called for divestment of the $500 million officials estimate the UC owns in various coal-related holdings. The UC has previously withdrawn funds from tobacco companies and other firms seen as aiding South African apartheid regimes and genocide in Sudan.

The University of California Student Association (UCSA), an association of UC student governments, voted to make “Fossil Free UC” one of its 2013-14 undergraduate campaigns last year, stating that divesting from fossil fuels is “key to encouraging other institutions to follow suit and start thinking seriously about sustainable energy.”

UCSC third-year and one of two students on the UC task force appointed by UCSA Alden Phinney said it was “clear from the beginning” that the Regents were not interested in divesting. He said the recommendations by the CIO of a more “holistic approach” are problematic.

The report called for aScreen Shot 2014-10-10 at 4.17.49 PM $1 billion investment in renewable energy, improved agriculture and energy efficiency. Phinney hopes the Environmental Social Governance (ESG) framework is one that has “teeth.” He said investing in renewable energy could be seen as hypocritical, considering the burning of fossil fuels is the largest source of emissions of carbon dioxide, contributing to global warming.

“Investing in renewable energy is great. Implementing a socially responsible or sustainable investment framework is great,” Phinney said. “We’re definitely for those things but they’re really refusing to acknowledge the problems in their investments and how sort of hypocritical it is to say they’re looking at it ‘holistically’ while refusing to impose negative screens on companies based on any sort of sustainability criteria.”

In a meeting with student press last week, UC President Janet Napolitano said the new ESG framework doesn’t discount divestment as an option in the future but currently the university will pursue other solutions.

“We reject the notion that divestment is really the only and best thing to do,” UC President Napolitano said. “It becomes a bumper sticker — it’s easy to rally around but we think we can be much more substantive and comprehensive than only divestment.”



Three Chancellors Receive 20 Percent Raise

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 4.15.59 PMAfter the release of the 2013 salary report with the University of California’s statement that many employees are paid “below market” comes the approval of a 20 percent raise for the three lowest paid chancellors, including UCSC’s Chancellor George Blumenthal.

The base salary for Chancellor Blumenthal increased from $319,300 to $383,160. Base salaries were also increased for UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland and UC Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry Yang.

The Student Union Assembly’s External Vice Chair Louise Cabansay said she understood the Regent’s justification that UC chancellors are paid less than those at other universities, but she added that the UC was created as a public good for the state. She said previous increases were modest in comparison.

“Considering our budget crisis, 20 percent seems a little bit like a big jump,” Cabansay said. “I know previous increases were 3 or 6 percent. They weren’t as high as 20 percent.”

UC Regent Russell Gould said the increase was a matter of “correcting injustices” as UC chancellors are among the lowest paid when compared to other universities. Former UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake resigned earlier this year to lead Ohio State University, where he was offered a base salary of $851,303.

In a meeting with student press, UC President Napolitano said some chancellors are paid like they’re “middle managers at a tech firm in San Francisco” and are paid lower than those at comparative universities. She said a salary plan she created will put chancellors “somewhere around the middle” in comparison to other universities the UC “competes with.”



UC Sexual Assault Task Force Presents Recommendations

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The UC Sexual Assault task force, convened by UC President Janet Napolitano in June, announced seven recommendations to the Board of Regents last month. The recommendations are set to take effect the next academic year and be fully implemented by fall 2015.

UCLA and UC Berkeley are part of the 70-plus universities that are currently under investigation by the United States Department of Education for mishandling sexual violence cases and potential violations of Title IX, a federal law that protects students from discrimination on the basis of sex at an educational institution that receives federal funding.

Sexual violence prevention educator Caitlin Stinneford was the only representative from UCSC on the task force and said sexual assault affects every campus, but she is hopeful the recommendations, including consistent consequences will make an impact.

“I like the idea that if the UC system wants to be a unified system we need to create things that feel consistent to students,” Stinneford said. “Consistency holds campuses accountable. The campuses being investigated weren’t doing things in the best interest of students.”

Stinneford said UCSC implemented the UC’s first sexual assault policy in 1994. While UCSC is not one of the campuses being investigated, Stinneford said the issue is more concerning than the Clery Act report will show. The Clery Act is a federal law requiring colleges to report crimes that occur “on campus.” The report shows 12 reports of forcible sex offenses and nine reports of domestic violence in 2013. Stinneford said she personally supported 97 people in 2013-14 around the issue of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.

“We don’t recognize how big the issue is because it’s in confidential spaces,” she said. “I meet people who don’t want to report to police or the Title IX officer.”

Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 967, or the “yes means yes” bill last week, requiring “affirmative consent” by each person engaging in sexual activity. Under the new legislation, universities must adopt policies concerning sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking that include affirmative consent to receive state funding.