New UC President presents unique opportunity to shape future of system
As the new decade begins, the UC has an opportunity for improvement. After careful reflection on previous shortcomings, the Editorial Board hopes that new leadership implements appropriate changes as the system enters a new era.
UC President Janet Napolitano’s last day in her position is on Aug. 1. Student input and needs must be at the forefront of a search for a new UC president. The special committee to consider the selection of a president met with advisory groups consisting of “faculty, students, staff, alumni, campus chancellors, laboratory directors and vice presidents” to discuss the criteria of the position in early November, according to the one update on the search since Napolitano’s resignation in September. But it’s neither clear how involved students were in these advisory groups nor how open the committees were to ensuring student voices were representative of a diverse UC student body.
While there was a public forum held at UC Davis during Fall Quarter, it took place on the Friday of finals week, when very little students were in town or available to attend and voice their concerns. With town halls planned across the UC for early 2020, the special committee must ensure a diverse turnout of the “constituent groups of the university,” it hopes to hear from.
Since the UC president is at the helm of the most prestigious public university system in the nation, the Editorial Board believes the new president should have a background in education and a comprehensive understanding of the flaws and inequalities that come along with it. With a student population of about 280,300 on their hands, the president should also be able to stand up to the federal government when the well-being of UC students is at risk, as was the case when the Trump Administration ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.
The past three years have also seen six walkout strikes led by AFSCME 3299, the UC’s largest union representing about 26,000 employees. Tensions have been high as workers demand more pay and an end to the outsourcing of jobs. Many workers and advocates have taken issue with the UC’s unwillingness to even meet at the bargaining table. The UC has an obligation to conduct fair and ethical negotiations with all of its unions.
Given the UC’s failure to meet its various waste free goals and in light of worsening climate change, the UC should reapproach its methods of reaching sustainability in a way that is more comprehensive and involves commitment at all levels across each campus. With tuition the highest it’s ever been in the system’s history, the dream of affordable higher education is becoming less and less attainable.
Student resource centers — spaces where traditionally marginalized students are able to find community — are plentiful on this campus but must receive more support in general and especially at other campuses that lack some of these resources. Along the same vein, the UC must continue hiring diverse faculty members to build up a staff that reflects the diverse student body they are teaching.
It is essential that the UC system commits to being transparent and accessible to everyone involved in its bureaucracy on issues from tuition, to waste free progress, to labor rights, to the UC president hiring process and on. No one can be left in the dark. The whole is no greater than its parts.
Written by: The Editorial Board