Students Seek More than Emails Regarding Strategic Academic Planning

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Concerned about campus transparency and low undergraduate response numbers to a campus survey about the Strategic Academic Planning (SAP) initiative, five major ethnic organizations created a student survey to learn if and how students are learning about the SAP process.

UC Santa Cruz’s SAP initiative aims, in partnership with the private company Entangled Solutions, to identify areas of the university that can attract external funding and funnel more money into strengthening those programs. It has received criticism about which programs it is likely to fund over others and the likelihood that its changes will not reflect needs of all parts of the student body.

The five organizations, the Asian American and Pacific Islander Student Alliance (AAPISA), Bayanihan, Black Student Union, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán and the Student Alliance of North American Indians, felt the survey responses were inadequate in representing opinions of the full student body regarding the SAP.

“Eighty students [responded] and […] that that’s all they were looking for is pretty alarming for us as student orgs and student spaces,” said fourth-year AAPISA fiscal
representative Anna Louie. “[…] And a lot of the folks were in STEM, so where they were outreaching to students might not be a comprehensive picture of the student body as a whole.”

The organizations felt the lack of responses to the university’s survey stemmed from insufficient efforts on UCSC’s part to make information and outreach accessible to students.

In the nine days since it was opened for responses, their alternative, student-initiated survey about the SAP already received 115 undergraduate student responses at the time of print. The administration’s survey received about 80 over the course of over a month. Not only did the student-led survey receive more responses, the responses reflect more diversity in majors and ethnicities, Louie said.

Reflected in the over 100 responses to the org-led survey are student concerns regarding speed of the process and lack of accessible communication between campus administration and the student body
regarding SAP.

About 60 percent of the students who responded to the student-led survey found out about the SAP through other student orgs and about 21 percent learned about it through emails from the administration. Only about 10 percent of those who responded were able to attend SAP forums or meetings hosted by the university but about 91 percent were interested in learning more.

In response to the information gathered in this survey, the ethnic organizations plan to host student-led teach-ins and workshops to initiate more student participation.

“As students, we all should have more agency in the kind of information we’re getting from this process, especially because they’re only implementing it throughout one academic year. […],” Anna Louie said. “If nothing bigger can happen out of our work, at least folks having dialogue is important.”

Respond to the student-led survey at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdTG2loLkriLOCKFUxbto9G7WA0Vh0ZbgikwlVdNq39-sJoRw/viewform