Changing Culture of Student Services

Reliance on Giving Day indicates lack of university support

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Dozens of groups and projects that provide essential services to students and community members are severely underfunded, and Giving Day, among other funding sources like student fees, is not a permanent solution.

Anna Mcgrew
Anna Mcgrew

UC Santa Cruz’s second Giving Day on March 6 raised over $500,000 through more than 5,000 individual donors. Giving Day was a 24-hour period during which 60 campus-affiliated groups reached out to donors to fund their projects.

While Giving Day is a good opportunity for groups to supplement their budgets with additional donations, one day of fundraising is not enough to sustain programs that provide crucial services to students across campus, nor is it a sufficient substitute for a permanent budget.

Programs like Slug Support and the Undocumented Retention Fund competed throughout the day with other groups, ranging from campus units like the Financial Aid Office to research projects.

The Undocumented Student Retention Fund raised over $15,000, and is used to aid undocumented students with unexpected medical bills, legal fees, food insecurity, housing and other expenses. Slug Support, administered by the Dean of Students Office, raised almost $8,000 for the Student Emergency Fund on Giving Day. This money added to its $34,000 permanent budget, but the program is still far from its annual operational needs of $400,000. Slug Support addresses emergency situations like food insecurity, removes financial barriers and provides resources so students remain on track for graduation.

Dozens of other programs supporting underrepresented communities and other students in need participated in Giving Day, including the STEM Diversity Program, the Academic Excellence Program (ACE) and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Department.

Campus administrative officials, the UC Regents or the California Legislature should take more initiative to ensure these crucial programs receive the funding and support they need so they don’t need to rely so heavily on these fundraising platforms. Over half of the campus’s funding comes from tuition and fees and the State of California.

Programs and events like Giving Day are welcome opportunities for groups to earn money, but should not serve as major funding sources for programs that provide important retention services like Slug Support and the Undocumented Student Retention Fund. It is the university’s duty to ensure students are supported on campus and funds are allocated appropriately.

This culture surrounding how student services are funded extends beyond Giving Day. UCSC students pay the third highest undergraduate student fees, behind UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara.

Learning Support Services (LSS) is funded through Measure 30 and 63, which generate over $100,000 annually. LSS provides necessary programs like Modified Supplemental Instruction (MSI), tutoring and drop-in writing and math assistance. LSS’s mission is to ensure students have the support they need to succeed at the university, and it should have the full financial support of the university.

Administration cannot rely upon students to foot the bill through fees or programs like Giving Day each time necessary programs are deprioritized — it’s unsustainable and detrimental to the student body. The Undocumented Student Retention Fund, Slug Support and other diversity and retention programs participating in Giving Day should receive more support from the university.

With tuition rising next year, the university is looking to save money to keep education from becoming even less accessible. UCSC is cutting corners that shouldn’t be cut, and students shouldn’t be the ones picking up the slack.