University Council – American Federation of Teachers (UC-AFT) hosted “Where Do Student Fees Go?,” a budget forum, on Wednesday.
The forum, which drew a crowd, set out to clarify what UC-AFT and the Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA) consider to be budget myths. The event also offered budget research that faculty have conducted as an alternative way of understanding UC Santa Cruz’s budget crisis.
“The number-one misunderstanding is that the budget crisis is driven by the state financial crisis, when really it is a crisis of priorities,” said Bob Meister, CUCFA president and UCSC professor of political and social thought.
Meister is the author of several controversial budget articles, including “They Pledged Your Tuition,” which says that student fees are pledged as collateral to increase university bond ratings.
Meister and Bob Samuels, UC-AFT president and writing lecturer at UCLA both gave presentations that brought attention to subjects including, but not limited to the distribution of educational fees among campuses, and expensive university investment decisions.
Santa Cruz Mayor Mike Rotkin, UCSC community studies lecturer and vice president of UC-AFT, facilitated an open Q&A session following the forum.
Samuels is the lead contributor to “Changing Universities,” a budget blog. The blog has a range of topics that address the UC’s priorities that come into play while making budget decisions.
“UC actually had a record year of revenue — even when it is saying that there is a crisis, it’s really a crisis of priorities,” Samuels said. “The UC could reallocate funding if it wanted to and it just chooses to spend funding on its pet projects.”
Edward Roseman, a first-year biomolecular engineering major from College Nine, attended the budget forum in hopes of getting more information to help form solutions.
“I am seeking information to try and find credible data to base strategy for dealing with the budget crisis,” Roseman said.
“The decision is made by UCOP [UC Office of the President] on how funds are distributed across the [UC campuses], which is much more important than even the deficit from state funding,” Roseman continued. “That confirms that we really need to take a close look at the school that we are in.”