Housing crises are sweeping across all UC campuses, and even on-campus student renters are experiencing effects, as overcrowded dorms are becoming the new standard. In response, at its July meeting the UC Board of Regents approved a one-time housing assistance fund of $27 million. The funds will be evenly dispersed to nine UC campuses, excluding UC Merced. The Chancellor will decide how each campus’s $3 million allocation will be used by Nov. 15.
At UC Santa Cruz, Executive Vice Chancellor Marlene Tromp asked groups such as the Student Union Assembly (SUA), the Graduate Student Association, the Staff Advisory Board and the Academic Senate, leadership from College, Housing and Educational Services and principle officers across campus to each provide 10 proposals for how the grant should be spent.
“Given the diverse housing needs across the system, the campuses were encouraged to consult with student groups and faculty and staff organizations. The intention is that this process would identify campus priorities to assist with the development of a funding utilization plan,” said Ricardo Vazquez, director of media relations at the UC Office of the President, in an email.
Chancellor George Blumenthal formed a committee consisting of four high-level administrators to advise him on the allocation of the fund. SUA President Max Jimenez said the absence of student representation on the committee is a problem with communication. “It’s miscommunication and lack of communication between students and administrators,” Jimenez said. “Because they are working, I don’t want to dismiss their work, but you need to really engage with students and talk to them. They shouldn’t have to have a title. If I was just a student, I wouldn’t be important. […] It should be that all students, no matter if they have a title or not, should be good enough for input.”
To address the $3 million allocation to UCSC and other housing issues, Jimenez organized the SUA Housing Working Group. About 20 students, from groups such as the No Place Like Home project and Santa Cruz for Bernie, attended the first working group meeting on Oct. 4. They shared their personal struggles with housing, such as living in cramped one-bedroom apartments containing entire families or being forced to relocate constantly.
During the Student Housing Working Group meeting, Jimenez called for help drafting the 10 proposals. She expressed her frustration at the fact that no student was on the advisory committee to the chancellor.
“I felt like we accomplished so much,” Jimenez said after the meeting, “and I feel like people are ready, and people know what we’re about. So, I’m excited where this is going to go, and I think it went well. I just really need help at the moment to organize this, because I’m also doing other stuff.”