During their May 16 meeting at the Sacramento Convention Center, the University of California Board of Regents discussed Governor Jerry Brown’s revised budget, with an additional $6.5 billion deficit, and the effect it will have on the University of California.
Patrick Lenz, vice president of budget and capital resources for the University of California, and Dan Dooley, UC senior vice president for external relations, presented an updated UC budget with the results of the governor’s May 14 revision to the Board.
In November of 2011, the Board of Regents approved a plan for the 2012-2013 year that increases spending from the previous year by $326.6 million. However, according to the executive summary of the budget discussion at the meeting, at that time, the Regents did not approve any assumptions about revenues from either state or student tuition and fee sources, delaying action until after the governor released his proposed 2012-13 budget for the state of California.
After the May revision of Brown’s state budget, which reveals a $15.7 billion deficit as opposed to a $9.2 billion deficit, it appears the state may not have enough revenue to provide UC with an additional $125.4 million to buy out a tuition and fee increase for 2012-2013, according to the summary provided for the discussion. Without this buy-out, the Regents will be faced with voting on a 6 percent tuition increase in July.
During public comment, some participants pointed out the problem of voting on a tuition increase during July, at a time when many students are out of school and unable to access the Board of Regents meeting to make their voices heard.
“If you put it off until September,” said Lenz, “you have students who have waited half a semester for information about their student aid.”
“This is serious stuff,” said Chairman Sherry Lansing. “You have to make certain decisions when you have a billion dollar cut that you may not want to make but that you have to because it’s the best thing for the University at that time.”
The Regents also discussed the recent policy, authored by General Counsel Charles Robinson and Dean Christopher Edley, addressing policing of student protests on UC campuses.
“Let’s have a middle ground where as a community we have some say in what the sanction is going to be,” said Edley. “We didn’t want to impose a Berkeley style complaint board on every campus, but we also thought that there had to be something.”
During the original discussion, students broke out in protest, arguing that policies aren’t what should be addressed; rather, it should be the reason students are protesting that should be addressed.
“You made 50 recommendations,” yelled an unidentified protester during the policy discussion, “not a single one stated that instead of this particular Board of Regents, we should have a democratic form of governance.”
That disruption acted as a catalyst for students dressed in orange shirts and pants to mimic prison uniforms to get up, walk in circles around the public comment area and said, “That’s the sound of the students working on the chain gang.”
These protests, which forced the Regents to go into closed session and disregard both the policy discussion and budget discussion until 1:30 p.m., ended with a press conference by the student protestors outside the convention center. During the press conference, many speakers reiterated the need to make changes within the UC system, instead of cracking down on students during protests.
“The Regents have made no real effort to really understand the students’ concerns,” said Cheryl Deutsch, the president of the University of California Student Workers Union. “They’re not concerned with listening to the real issues or thinking through the real hard issues that face higher education. They’re just concerned with dealing with the students as a nuisance.”
The remainder of the policy discussion ended with suggestions made by other Regents, as well as an extension of the public comment period of the policy occurring on June 8.