UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal, Campus Provost/Executive Vice Chancellor Alison Galloway and Interim EVC and Campus Diversity Officer for Faculty Herbie Lee all sat down with Student Media organizations on Wednesday to answer questions regarding the future of the university and representation on campus.
City on a Hill Press: As resources are stretched thin, class times cut back, residential lounges cut back, we are getting less while having to pay more. How is this being addressed?
Blumenthal: We’re doing all we can, but the truth is the start of your sentence is the correct one, resources are being stretched thin. We are getting fewer resources from the state of California. I would want to remind you right now, roughly speaking in terms of your educational experience, we get about 60 percent of our funding from tuition and about 40 percent from the state of California, and the tuition hasn’t gone up for years, but our costs have gone up.
[…] There are rather large plans to build [about] 3,000 new beds on campus at least by 2020, and maybe even before then. Of that 3,000, I anticipate that about 2,500 beds will be new beds and about 500 beds will be replacement beds for beds for buildings that we will need to be revitalized or take down. So, there is help along the way.
CHP: Could you explain a bit more about how those 3,000 beds will be added by 2020?
Blumenthal: We’ll be working in those areas to try and renovate or replace buildings in that area. We also have to figure out how to accommodate, as we have to decant people from one building while we build a new one, renovate a new one. We had hoped to be able to use modular housing, but that is not possible unless we can find a workaround because that was not acceptable to the regents — it was a very upsetting meeting.
CHP: What is being done to increase black student representation and retention on campus, and why not implement an African American studies program?
Blumenthal: We are actually doing some things quite actively to increase African American recruitment and retention. For example, we have hired, already, a retention specialist within the student success division of the campus with a specialty in African American retention […] We are almost there in terms of hiring an African American person within student recruiting who is a specialist or who will specialize in recruiting African American communities.
In terms of a major in African American studies — I just want to emphasize that [having] a major on campus requires faculty to take the initiative to take that into fruition. I do not have the authority to declare today that there is going to be an African American studies major on campus. I had discussions with students about the possibility of that, and I know they convened some groups of faculty for putting together a proposal, but I think it is going to be something that needs to come from the faculty.
Frankly, I am also hoping we have success in our relatively new race and ethnic studies program, which I think is actually a program we can be proud of and a program that brings to the table something a little different to UC campuses, so the only caution I would have would be I don’t want to do something that would detract from the success of that program.
CHP: We have one of the highest percentages of white students across the UC. In the email you sent out you said we are increasing diversity significantly. In what ways is this diversity increasing, given that there are only 2 percent black students and less than 1 percent Pacific Islander and Alaskan native?
Blumenthal: We may have a somewhat lower percentage of Asian/Pacific Islander students than other campuses, but in terms of underrepresented students which would be African American, Hispanic or Native American students, I think we have one of the higher percentages of students in the UC system currently […] We’re third in the UC system in terms of diversity [and] of underrepresented minorities currently. So, why did I say positive things about this fall’s entering class? Because there were some significant increases. For example among African American students we saw something like a 33 percent increase in the percent of the entering class both for frosh and for transfer students […] I think we’re on a relatively good trajectory in that regard.
Do we have farther to go? Of course we do. But it’s a lot better than my saying, well, we’re third and we haven’t changed our numbers. We are changing our numbers.
CHP: Just to clarify — the first statement was: we have one of the highest percentages of white students across UC — not Asian/Pacific Islanders.
Blumenthal: It is true that we may have one of the highest percentages of white students, but my explanation was because the one area that we are low relative to the rest of the UC system is Asian/Pacific Islanders […] That’s why I tried to frame it in the form of underrepresented students.
CHP: [UCSC Police Department] Chief Oweis said there have been five drug related UCSC student overdoses in the last two years. What is being done to mitigate the concern and help students become more aware of drug and alcohol issues on campus?
Blumenthal: That’s an area where if there are suggestions, we’re definitely open to suggestions. We have a very active [Student Health Outreach and Promotion] program for students to help prevent them from overdosing on drugs and help them learn about the dangers of drugs and what can happen. That’s one of our major efforts, but it’s actually a very serious problem.
Galloway: The other thing we’ve been doing is publicizing more on how to react to an overdose. Many of the overdose deaths have involved students who don’t want to get a student in trouble, and so they pat them off to bed and don’t check on them. And we know now that we can provide antidotes for overdoses, so getting awareness of that out has started to make some impact, and we’ve actually had at least one rescue where we were able to resuscitate somebody from an overdose that otherwise probably would have been fatal. So getting that word out has been critical.
*Questions and answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.
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