UC Regents members review possible tuition increase, sexual harassment
On Nov. 16 and 17, UC Regents met at the San Francisco Mission Bay Conference Center to discuss pressing issues with regard to faculty, students and staff.
On Nov. 16, UC Santa Cruz and UC Berkeley students from Fossil Free UC, a UC systemwide, student-led organization, asked the regents to divest from fossil fuels. Students from UC Berkeley presented a letter to the board of regents which was signed by more than 650 faculty members from across the UC system, urging members to take action against the use of fossil fuels like other universities have.
“By choosing not to lead with us, Regent Sherman, you are spreading a diseased lie about the impact of the oil industry, on the climate and on people,” said Sam Weinstein, a UC Santa Cruz student. “This issue is not going away, and we are not going away.”
Students stated this topic was especially relevant in light of Donald Trump winning the presidential election, as he has denied climate change and global warming and also appointed a climate change skeptic to direct the Environmental Protection Agency.
Jasmine Marshall Armstrong, a doctoral candidate at UC Merced, also addressed the presidential election and the impact it had on students the night Donald Trump was won the presidency.
Armstrong stated that many members of the UC system, especially LGBT+ students, students of color and undocumented students are fearful of hate crimes and deliberate violence. Armstrong herself received a death threat from a white nationalist due to her support of minority groups.
“We all need to feel safe, valued and protected,” Armstrong said. “I ask you to live up to our motto of ‘let there be light.’ Let California be the light in this moment of darkness.”
The UC Board of Regents also addressed and approved a policy change requiring board members to comply with ethical conduct and sexual harassment policy in private as well as public life. This policy change comes after controversial issues pertaining to sexual harassment, including an incident in which Regent Norman Pattiz asked a female colleague if he could touch her breasts during the public airing of a recording, as well as an incident in which Pattiz was accused of saying to a female “If I wasn’t married I’d be chasing you down the hallway.”
The new policy will require regents to complete sexual harassment prevention training.
Pattiz, who sits on the Governance and Compensation Committee and was present at the meeting, said he had already begun the mandated sexual harassment training.
The board voted on reducing the number of standing committees from 10 to six and will also allow committee meetings to be held concurrently. Committee chair Regent Russell Gould stated these changes would allow each committee to be more engaged and effective during meetings.
The six renamed and standing committees are Academic and Student Affairs, Compliance and Audit, Finance and Capital Strategies, Governance and Compensation, Health Services and Public Engagement and Development.
The regents also discussed potential tuition increases.
UC chief financial officer Nathan Brostrom pointed out the existing gap between the $7 billion received from UC tuition and state funding and the $30 billion operational budget. Brostrom proposed an increase in tuition of about $300. He addressed the system’s preliminary 2017 to 2018 budget, which included growth of undergraduate and graduate student enrollment, resulting in mandatory cost increases.
“There was discussion of potential tuition increases, but we don’t know at this point in time,” said Regent Hadi Makarechian.
Makarechian presented a report by the Finance and Capital Strategies Committee explaining that further consideration of tuition hikes would occur in January.
The regents approved a three year financial sustainability plan, which includes cost-saving alternative revenues.
This discussion lead to protests on the second day of meetings, where more than 50 students protested tuition hikes outside the conference center, marching around the driveway and insisting that the regents not only freeze tuition but also to roll back existing fees.
Students moved into the meeting room and spoke over regents numerous times in the ensuing discussion. Vice Chair Bonnie Reiss gave several warnings, threatening police intervention if there were continued disruptions. Students entered at 10:30 a.m., and left the meeting room and continued to protest outside by 1 p.m.
The meeting adjourned around 3 p.m. on Nov. 17.
Written by: Demi Caceres — email@example.com