The Student Union Assembly (SUA) passed a resolution calling for campus leaders to condemn the UC Office of the President’s (UCOP) plan to increase systemwide enrollment by 10,000 students over the next three years. The resolution calls for the resignation of Chancellor George Blumenthal if he chooses to comply with the increased enrollment plan.
“Chancellor Blumenthal is in a powerful position — he can say ‘no,’” said SUA President Julie Foster.
The resolution asserts that “if the UC administration chooses to continue with this plan for UCSC, SUA will protest by working with our students, allies and organizational partners to disrupt the everyday operations of our campus.”
UCSC Director of News and Media Relations Scott Hernandez-Jason said the increase isn’t an option, as the enrollment growth is a promise made by UCOP to California.
Foster maintains that administrators need to address factors affecting the quality of education at UCSC, including classroom size, faculty-to-student ratio, lack of student housing and underpaid professors, lecturers and graduate students.
“We need a better plan to ensure the quality of education,” Foster said. “We need all of [these concerns] resolved before we can admit more students.”
Despite these concerns, UC President Janet Napolitano said the UC is prioritizing the quality of education amid enrollment increase.
“In the course of this enrollment push, I have been listening carefully to our chancellors, our faculty, our staff and our students about the challenges that accompany this endeavor,” Napolitano said in her opening comments at the January regents meeting. “One challenge is to sustain the academic excellence that makes us the nation’s preeminent public research university.”
The increased enrollment plan came about from an agreement between the California Legislature and the regents to avoid this year’s proposed tuition increase. The Legislature approved a $25 million funding increase if the UC increases enrollment by 5,000 students for the coming fall to address the concern that more out-of-state students — who pay almost triple the tuition and fees California residents pay — are used to cover the rising cost of education.
Out-of-state student enrollment increased by 12.8 percent while in-state enrollment decreased by 1.7 percent in fall 2015. Last fall, UCSC admitted 46.3 percent of in-state freshman applicants compared to 83.9 percent of out-of-state students — the highest out-of-state acceptance rate among the UC campuses.
The UC Student Association passed a similar resolution condemning the plan to increase enrollment across the UC system at its January meeting at UC San Diego, citing similar concerns about housing shortages, increased demand on academic and instructional workers and insufficient retention services for students of color.
As of Jan. 17, SUA hasn’t received a response to its resolution from Chancellor Blumenthal, but Foster and Blumenthal will meet on Monday for a monthly meeting where the resolution will be discussed.