SUA Kicks Off ‘Meet the Admin’ Series

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In an effort to encourage a dialogue between students and UC Santa Cruz administrators, Student Union Assembly (SUA) President Julie Foster introduced the “Meet the Admin” series. Following the first meeting of the series, which focused on academic life, the second discussion on April 4 addressed the future of student housing in the context of growing admissions to the university.

“I think students are affected by every single decision admin make,” Foster said. “Unless we are making room to communicate with each other, the effect that admin have on students is going to be negative because nobody knows what students want better than students.”

The remaining series meetings will continue throughout the quarter. Each meeting will focus on a different topic — campus development, student life, campus climate, transportation and parking — where students will have the opportunity to meet with administrators involved in the respective departments. A question and answer session with Executive Vice Chancellor Alison Galloway and Chancellor George Blumenthal will conclude the series on May 2.

Foster envisions these meetings as a space for students to become informed and administrators to communicate their decisions while addressing students’ concerns and suggestions. She said there’s misinformation between the student body and administrators and their decisions.

Foster hopes students will use the information from these meetings to learn more about the issues affecting them.

“I labeled the event ‘Meet the Admin,’ which sounded a little bit more rubbing elbows versus questioning authority,” Foster said. “But that’s kind of the sentiment behind it — respectfully get your answers so when you’re making an argument to admin to change things, you know what you’re arguing for.”

The administrators whom Foster invited to the meetings are open to speak to students, but so far Foster estimates that only about 10 students attended the first meeting and 15 the second. Because of the low attendance, some students are concerned about participation in these meetings.

“Sometimes it can be intimidating, especially being [in the] minority,” said Lesly Sanchez, a second-year student and a member of the Student Environmental Center’s Green Building Campaign. “[The administrators] were pretty open about answering our questions, but I wish there would be more students.”

Richelle Noroyan, the UCSC community relations representative and Santa Cruz City Council member, began the meeting by discussing how a growing need for student off-campus housing has been affecting relations between the university and Santa Cruz community.

“During my three years in this position, I have seen university and community relations, and there is a lot of mutual respect now,” Noroyan said.

Associate Vice Chancellor Sue Matthews detailed the specifics on the university housing budget and the long-term plans to accommodate 70 percent of the 19,250 full-time students expected to be enrolled at UCSC by 2020, including the additional 10,000 students who will be enrolled over the next three years.

“In the future, we may have to reconsider the two-year housing guarantee for all new students and the four-year guarantee for Educational Opportunity Programs students,” Matthews said.

UCSC currently houses about 50 percent of students on campus. Because the plans for expanding on-campus housing options are still in the developmental phase, it’s unclear what the impact will be on continuing and new students in the coming years.

“I have more questions, and I need to go to more meetings and get involved more,” said Valeria Urrutia, a second-year student who attended the event. “We’re trying to get the solution to problems, but why did they start and why do we have these problems now? That’s what is making me uncomfortable.”

Housing Services Director Dave Keller, Employee Housing and Capital Planning Director Steve Houser, and Student Housing Services Assistant Director Kevin Tresham spoke on the university’s future plans to renovate Oakes apartments, Crown residence halls, Family Student Housing and Graduate Student Housing. They also discussed a proposal to create new, non-college affiliated housing near Kresge College.

“When these construction plans do end up happening, that’s when students end up complaining about it,” said second-year student Lesly Sanchez. “It’s too late now. You should have come to these events.”

SUA President Foster said while there’s student representation in administrative decisions, there’s also a lack of engagement between the majority of the student body and administrators.

“It’s not so much a lack of student input or a lack of transparency from the admin,” she said. “The problem is that there is a lack of clarity of what admins’ purpose is and also what they are struggling with on issues they’re working on.”

The next meeting will discuss future campus development on April 11 at 5:30 p.m., in Kresge Room 159.