The Student Union Assembly (SUA) concluded its “Meet the Admin” series with a Q&A session with Chancellor George Blumenthal and Executive Vice Chancellor Alison Galloway on Tuesday. Around 80 attendees wrote down questions for SUA President Julie Foster to moderate, and topics ranged from enrollment increase, students who are houseless, the future of athletics and students who are undocumented. City on a Hill Press chose some highlights from the panel.
How do you propose the City of Santa Cruz accommodates 650+ more students, both in terms of housing resources and public transportation?
Alison Galloway (AG): “The city only gets a portion of students on campus. We house about 50 percent of students here on the campus and have a comprehensive settlement agreement with the city per our LRDP (Long Range Development Plan) that a certain portion of any additional students will have to be housed on campus. The situation in town is critical — there is not affordable housing, much less housing for students. So, what we’re trying to do is find enough space on campus to accommodate the students, but it is going to be very, very tight.”
Please explain how the city will accommodate these new students.
AG: “The news about the bus line decreases was, in my mind, disastrous. We are working with the city to see what we can do and give them some options that have the least impact on the campus. I’ve also asked for exploration on what other things we can do to assist in [transporting students], including better use of other bus systems, including our own shuttle buses. But we are probably the largest source of funding for the Metro and are taking a huge hit from their budget in their cuts.”
Why, rather than building on previously undeveloped land, is the UC not adding dorms on top of existing buildings that are currently only one or two stories high?
AG: “I’m actually actively pushing that we consider having taller buildings as opposed to having to go to new areas because I think the original idea was we wouldn’t go more than four or five stories because that was the tree line at the time. It is no longer the tree line. Having taller buildings would be a good move for the campus.”
Do you serve on any corporate boards?
George Blumenthal (GB): “I do not serve on any for-profit or corporate boards. I do serve on several nonprofit boards. I do not get paid for that.”
AG: “I serve on the native animal rescue board, not paid, and I serve on the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Citizens Advisory Board and that is also not paid. I’m on the editorial board for general forensic sciences, not paid, and the ethics committee for the American Forensic Sciences, not paid.”
Every year we pay more and more for less and less. This is obviously unsustainable. Do you expect things to turn around or become more sustainable and if so how?
GB: “Well the truthful answer is I don’t know. In a sense you’re right, students are paying more and more in tuition … and largely the reason for that is that the state of California has withdrawn from the University of California, just as they have done with the [California State Universities] as well. When I was a graduate student at the UC, tuition was essentially free, and today you pay about $13,000 a year in tuition if you’re a California resident. That’s directly attributable to the decrease in funding that we get through the state, so if this is going to turn around there has to be another source of funds.
We have two choices up here between [EVC Galloway] and me. We can either make it more difficult to get an education, have larger classes, have classes less available and decrease the quality of education in the university which is something I have no interest in doing — or we can advocate and try to find other sources of funding that will help fund the education I think you deserve to get. Your description is fair, and I think whether or not this is going to turn around is going to be a political decision that is largely going to be made in Sacramento.”
What would the consequences be of blatantly disregarding the mandated enrollment increase and what would [the state and the UC Office of the President] do?
GB: “If the UC Office of the President were to ignore the mandated enrollment goals worked on by the legislature it would cost the UC about $25 million in funding. That was clear from the bill that was passed by the state legislature last May.
The second part of your question is what would be the consequences if the campus didn’t take the enrollment that was mandated by the UC. I don’t think we would want to know that because it would have significant financial implications for the campus. It would be very likely to decrease … the funding the campus receives. But there has been no explicit threat to that effect because I think all of us know that that is something that again would never happen.”
What do you think is the biggest threat to higher education at this institution?
GB: The biggest threat to higher education, on this campus, and in California in general is the willingness of the state to actually fund higher education. Just to put it into context, we were almost 100 percent funded by the state when this campus was born, and today, funding from the state accounts for 40 or 45 percent of the educational funding we get.
AG: Education has not been a priority both in the state and in the nation. Until we make that a priority again, I don’t see this situation getting better.
*Questions and answers have been edited for brevity and clarity