For the first time in three years, Chancellor George Blumenthal attended a Student Union Assembly (SUA) meeting the night of Feb. 20 along with Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Marlene Tromp. This is the first of a potentially quarterly event going forward, Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal and Tromp answered questions and addressed concerns on topics from housing and overcrowding to support for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients to the dismissal of admissions director Michael McCawley. Attendance peaked at around 60, with many from student government and student ethnic organizations across campus.
City on a Hill Press previously reported that in 2015, the last time Blumenthal came to a weekly SUA meeting, students blocked the exit in order to ask Blumenthal more questions, and a staff member called campus police for evacuation. One student reported being injured by officers during their entry.
To ensure a safer space for students, SUA President Max Jimenez contacted the chancellor’s office requesting there be no police presence at the meeting. The chancellor’s office respondedtherewerenoplansto have UC Police Department (UCPD) personnel on site.
“We never intended to bring UCPD to the meeting with us,” Tromp said in an email. “It is the responsibility of the police to provide safety protocols for the Chancellor whenever he has a large open forum. We never felt concern for our safety, either prior to or during the meeting.”
The administrators’ answers were time-restricted to two minutes to ensure many questions could be asked, but Blumenthal and Tromp gave answers that proved to be unsatisfactory to many of the students, such as first-year SUA member Ayo Banjo.
“I don’t think anything new was answered,” Banjo said. “They dodged the questions very well. It was like a game, going back and forth. […] If the chancellor was honest in his answers, that’s scary, because he doesn’t know anything.”