In light of Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed $500 million cut to the UC system for the 2011-12 academic year, various UC Davis groups have collaborated with administrative officials to organize a ‘Making Education Affordable’ panel open to all students and faculty.
The panel, which members include Chancellor Linda Katehi and Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph Hexter, will be held March 8, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in Chem 194. UC Davis CalPIRG, the Student Recruitment and Retention Center, ASUCD and the Student Assistants to the Chancellor have all worked in partnership to provide this opportunity for students to voice their opinions regarding budget cuts and other related issues.
In a message to the campus community, Katehi addressed the state budget crisis and the administration’s dedication to keeping students aware and informed of the school’s budget plans for 2011-12. The plans face a total $107 million shortfall with the potential $73 million reduction from state funding.
“These are very challenging times for our students, staff and faculty,” she said in the e-mail. “We want [students] to have as much information as possible about how UC Davis is planning to approach the 2011-12 budget.”
Plans include increasing enrollment of non-resident undergraduates, increasing summer session enrollment, implementing a course material fee for technology support, reducing energy consumption and cutting 400 to 500 staff positions.
Katehi continued to say that the state’s ongoing financial crisis means reduction in some areas, but also stressed the opportunities for investment and growth in other areas.
“Even in the midst of a difficult economy locally and globally, our university has continued to excel and reach new heights,” she said.
Tatiana Moana Bush, ASUCD senator and senior political science and sociology major, said students have the chance to make their voices heard by submitting questions to the panelists ahead of time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We want to put students in the situation where they have a voice for the reallocation of [university] funds,” she said. “We want [the panel] to be educational, empowering and informative.”
Bush also noted that this panel is part of what she hopes will be a multi-step process.
“The first part is figuring out how we got into this situation and the second part is how to reallocate these funds,” she said.
Manny Rin, UC Davis CalPIRG chapter chair and junior environmental policy analysis and planning major, said the crisis is urgent because Brown is pushing hard to get the cuts passed as soon as possible.
“I believe [Brown’s] solution is to cut the budget and also tax extensions,” he said. “If the taxes don’t end up getting passed by the summertime, we can expect more budget cuts to the UC system, maybe getting up to $1 billion overall.”
Rin said that in addition to informing students, the panel serves as a way to gain media attention that he hopes legislators will take notice of.
“Ideally we’re going to have a lot of media coverage for this panel,” he said. “Legislators know students don’t want anymore cuts.”
Rin also stressed that students have a unique opportunity to make their voices heard by attending the panel and getting involved with the budget talks.
“No matter what level of involvement the student wants, there’s something for them,” he said. “Whether it be signing a petition or participating in a rally or march to the Capitol, there’s definitely a place for everyone.”
VICTOR BEIGELMAN can be reached at email@example.com.