Beginning tomorrow, students will have the chance to make a strong and definitive statement to Mark Yudof and the UC Regents about whether or not they have confidence in the administration and its voting members.
If the two “no confidence” votes pass, potentially thousands of students will have democratically professed their dissent, sending the message that the path of the regents has led students to severely distrust their decisions.
There is certainly reason to lack confidence in Yudof and the regents. First and foremost, the 32 percent fee increase was entirely unexpected, sudden and overwhelming. The increase was unfair to say the least and completely devastating to many. We suspect that there were other, less dramatic options that regents simply overlooked in exchange for an easy way out of a budget crunch.
At the regents’ most recent meeting last week, a main item of discussion was to reduce administrative costs by centralizing departments such as human resources. This plan will save an estimated $500 million over five years. Student fee increases were expected to save a fixed amount of $505 million, some of which goes toward financial aid. We question whether the idea to save $500 million by combining a few departments simply required more time to configure, or if the regents really did turn their backs on students before looking at alternative measures.
These are some of the problems that might lead a student to understandably not have confidence in the regents. However, to say that we have absolutely no confidence in the regents would disregard any efforts made by Yudof and the regents, small as some believe they may be. These efforts may both improve the functionality of the university and sustain the quality of its education.
We therefore have “diminished” confidence in the leadership of the UC after this year. We haven’t lost hope, and believe that, soon, much of our confidence will be restored.
Several of the UC Commission on the Future’s recommendations actually benefit students. For instance, one step that the regents will most likely take is to encourage students to graduate in less time. Regents have admitted that if they do this, they will also most likely be forced to make classes more available.
The Access and Affordability Workgroup not only insisted that financial aid always be available for low-income families, but also suggested that middle-class families be given more aid.
Regents and Yudof have also made considerable advocacy efforts in Sacramento. This is perhaps one reason why Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s revised budget proposal restores $370 million in funding to UC, which will help to close next year’s budget gap significantly. This advocacy effort seemed wishy-washy at best before regents went through with it. However, their success is promising.
We strongly encourage students to vote in Wednesday’s special election. A student’s reasons for voting no confidence are personal – the ambiguity of the resolutions encourages these students to have their own reasons for voting. Though maintaining a “diminished” level of confidence doesn’t have a place on tomorrow’s ballot, we urge voters to consider its implications as a possible benefit to the future of their education.