The University of California’s Commission on the Future released its first recommendations on how to balance the ideals of accessible and affordable education with the current realities of dwindling financial resources.
Victor Sanchez is the UC Student Association President and UCSC Student Union Assembly External Vice Chair. The fourth-year Latin American/Latino Studies and sociology double major is also one of the three students on the Commission on the Future. He sat down with City on a Hill Press to discuss the Commission’s recommendations and how a few in particular might cause a riot.
City on a Hill Press: How will the Commission on the Future influence UC polices?
Victor Sanchez: Chairman [Russell] Gould and President [Mark] Yudof are the co-chairs, so it’s hard to say that there won’t be any kind of big, significant reforms.
CHP: What kind of influence, as a student, do you have on the commission?
VS: When you count me and [the two other student regents] we could be a real thorn in everybody’s side. Ultimately, by myself, I was speaking up a lot about the recommendations and the concerns I had in terms of the dependency and reliance on student fees.
CHP: Did you propose any of the 29 recommendations?
VS: The institutional aid for undocumented students. It is a campaign that has been wanting to be won for years in terms of allowing students who have paid into financial aid for years to get some in return. (*Editor’s note: currently, undocumented students pay in-state tuition but are not eligible for financial aid) This recommendation will allow them to see access to those funds. We [the student regents and I] are going to push really hard on that proposal. That’s the golden chip we are looking to take with us and move forward.
CHP: Which, if any, of the proposals do you disagree with?
VS: There are some very poor ones. Specifically when you look at funding strategies. There are two proposals. One is to allow fees to increase 5 percent each year for five years … basically bringing fees up to around thirteen thousand dollars. The second [proposal] is for fees to rise 15 percent each year for five years, allowing it [tuition and fees] to get upward of around twenty thousand dollars per year.
It was funny because when we started off with the remarks they had one slide [with the] regent’s priorities and I didn’t see [ a priority of having] ‘no student fees,’ so I made a comment, ‘This is great because we keep hearing that you guys are so reluctant to raise our fees yet it fails to show up on a priority list.’
Ultimately, it’s just unfortunate that they can’t come up with any better solutions than to put the burden on [students’] backs.
I told a [commission member] on the side, ‘If you all pass these funding strategies to raise fees for five years … you’re gonna have riots … it’s going to be real bad.’
CHP: Were there any other solutions other than to raise student fees?
VS: The conversation about alternative sources of revenue hasn’t happened [on the commission] and [commission members] do not want them to happen. There is a need for them to expand the conversation and start having it.
CHP: Were there any proposals you did not expect?
VS: One was the differential fees by campus. That to me totally undermines the mission of the UC. It deters people away from the University of California. You would now have all these little private universities and it’s like, what’s the point? That was one of the pretty far out proposals that we saw. They want to cut down majors instead of looking at GE requirements, which is a good way to slim down stuff.
CHP: Which ideas do you support?
VS: Institutional aid is one and the three-year undergraduate degree option. A lot of students already do that anyways. That option would be good to have for a lot of folks who are prepared and ready for college. I don’t think there’s anything else though.