By 2020, UC Davis will have 5,000 more students, if everything goes according to plan. The 2020 Initiative, introduced by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, also includes the addition of 300 faculty, along with housing facilities and buildings to accommodate the increased population.
We have many concerns about the 2020 Initiative. With the addition of 5,000 students, the impact will not go unnoticed. How will this change the quality of our education? How will the campus handle an extra 5,300 people? And most importantly, where will everyone park their bikes?
The Initiative is a way for the university to gain revenue and decrease reliance on the state for funding, while supporting the growth of UC Davis. While we understand that continuing cuts of funding from the state has left the UC system high and dry, we also don’t believe that the only solution should be found in the wallets of students.
Adding more students could lead to a decreased level of education. Though the student to faculty ratio will stay the same, there is already an issue with class size on our campus and professors and graduate assistants often complain of being overworked. Students are already sitting in 400-person lectures, and we imagine it will only get worse with the addition of more students. With more students in classes and on campus, the education we receive will be less personal and less effective.
Hopefully the 400 to 600 extra non-faculty that the administration hopes to hire will be enough to support the expanded student population. We will need more academic advisors, counselors, doctors, custodians, groundskeepers and so much more.
The administration has stated that many of the 5,000 new students will be non-California residents. While we are open and accepting to anyone who wants to come to UC Davis, this is further evidence that we have moved away from the original UC Master Plan, which stated that the UC system should be free, guaranteed education for California students. Furthermore, international students on campus have already expressed frustration with the school’s support and their ability to integrate into the community. We hope that the university will create more resources for these students and listen to their concerns.
It is disturbing that an Initiative like this is necessary as state funding for higher education decreases, and we are unsure if the new changes to UC Davis will have the positive impact the administration is hoping for.