UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal and Executive Vice Chancellor Alison Galloway sat down with student media organizations to answer questions of concern. The meeting took place on April 24 and included City on a Hill Press, KZSC, Banana Slug News, and The Fish Rap Live!
CHP: UCSC receives less money than many other UC schools, one disparity in funding among UC campuses. What kind of pressures are being exerted on the office of the UC president for more equal allocation?
B: When I became chancellor, I discovered student fees were not distributed back to the campus from which they were collected and UC Santa Cruz got back about 67 cents on the dollar. The disparity was and still is significant. Last year I finally persuaded [the president] to look at this issue and reevaluate the budgeting of the university. The president agreed to put in place rebenching – a revaluation of how state money is allocated among the campuses. On that committee representing UCSC were myself and Susan Gilman, the chair of Academic Senate. When the report comes out it will be reviewed by the campuses. It should be available for students to look at as well. UCSC stands to gain a significant amount of funds from this process.
CHP: This year, the UC faced substantial reductions in state funding as well as increases in costs. How much of this was absorbed by tuition increases and how much of this was absorbed by cuts to jobs, classes, and resources?
B: We face two challenges: one are the cuts from the state, which were about $750 million university-wide last year. To put that into context, $750 million is roughly equal to the total state support for UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, and UCLA, so that’s a huge, huge cut. In addition to that, we continue to face increasing costs. Increases in pension contributions from the university is a good example of that. If you average it out over the last four years, [student fee increases] were roughly half that total of cuts plus cost increases.
CHP: At the last regents meeting. Students argued that they didn’t have enough time to voice their opinions and they were calling for a more democratic process. Do you think that will be effective?
B: Currently, regents meetings last three days. Each have public comment periods for half an hour where students get a chance to express their views. There’s a balance between keeping [the meetings] open for public comment forever versus keeping public comment too short. [Regents meetings] aren’t fundamentally a democratic process. I think it’s quite appropriate that [the regents] hear constituents of the state – that they hear from students and faculty but ultimately [the regents] are charged with making decisions about the university. I think having input is really important but I would not feel comfortable if the state voted on every issue surrounding the university.
CHP: How can students get more involved with the decisions made at regents meetings?
B: At the last regents meeting, two UCSC students spoke and their comments were very different from comments made by other speakers. They were calm, persuasive — they made a rational argument and I think they were listened to because they were not screaming at the regents. Another way to be involved is to write a letter to the regents and president. The third way of getting involved is to come talk to people on campus. Allison holds office hours at Quarry Plaza and I hold office hours in my office; I meet with students all the time. Even if I don’t agree with a student, I’m happy to give them advice on a particular issue and on how to be influential in the process. I think there are a lot of ways that students can get involved and have their voice be heard so they can have a good chance at having an effect on university policy.