Editorial: UC needs to hold itself accountable for CA students

The University of California claims to be accountable to the people of California.

“As a publicly funded institution, the University of California is accountable to the people of California for how well it performs,” according to the UC’s 2014 Accountability Report on its website.

However, just three months into the following year, the UC has chosen to ignore this statement.

The UC will begin limiting California student enrollment in place of more out-of-state transfers while negotiating for an increased budget with Gov. Jerry Brown, according to statements made by UC President Janet Napolitano earlier this month.

The UC will only be admitting students that it knows it has funding for, Napolitano said.

This bold move has caused quite a response from San Diego Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins, who questioned the UC’s “$7 billion in existing resources.”

“Over the past seven years, UC’s core spending has increased 27 percent, while the enrollment of California undergraduates rose only 4 percent. Between 2007 and 2013, the number of UC employees making over $200,000 doubled,” Atkins said in a statement regarding the UC’s plan to limit in-state students. “Last year was the highest number of out of state and out of country students ever.”

And now the UC is asking for more money.

The UC tries to paint a picture of financial need in its 2014 Accountability Report, stating that “the University’s share of the state’s general fund dropped from 8.1 percent in 1966–67 to 2.7 percent in 2013–14.” But what the report forgets to mention are some other key changes.

In 1967, the UC faculty to student ratio was about 14:1, according to a 2006 UC report released by the Committee on Planning and Budget. The same report states the student to faculty ratio has been at least 19:1 since the 1990’s.

What does the UC state about this ratio in their accountability report?

“One widely used measure of academic quality is the student-faculty ratio. The lower the ratio, the better for the student in terms of focused instruction and faculty contact,” according to the report. The report goes on to list the current student-faculty ratio at 21:1.

And the amount of funding that the UC received in 1967 compared to the “$7 billion in existing resources” that Atkins questioned? According to the Postsecondary Education Commission, the UC needed less than $250,000 in 1967.

Californians, it is time that we take a stand against the UC’s demanding more funding and using California students as leverage.

Yes, there have been funding cuts across the board. And yes, one way the UC can quickly fix this problem is by opening up the floodgates for out of state students, who, according to the UC website, pay an average of $24,000 more than California residents.

But to whom is the UC supposed to be held accountable to?

According to the first sentence in the 2014 UC Accountability Report,”as a public entity, the University is accountable to the people of California and it must and it shall remain accountable to them for its actions, past and present, and for its future developmental trajectories.”

The UC system needs to reevaluate its goals and remember the reasons it was created. If it wishes to continue to refer to itself as a state-funded entity with California’s students’ and residents’ interests in mind, then perhaps it should start playing the part.

We invite all California residents to join us in reaching out to UC President Janet Napolitano via email at [email protected], regardless of stance. The UC has forgotten its purpose and to whom it remains accountable. Will you help us remind them of this?