UC Regents to Discuss Online Education and Diversity, Public Raises Concern

Oliver Bouan, Council on Student Fees Chair, address regents during their Jan.16 meeting.

Photo by Annalise Domenighini

Apprehension regarding the push for online education and the lack of faculty diversity in the University of California system permeated the sentiments expressed during the public comment segment of the UC Board of Regents meeting held Wednesday morning, Jan. 16, at the UC San Francisco campus.

In light of the severe budget cuts the UC system has faced in recent years, Gov. Jerry Brown has spearheaded a push for online education to be further integrated into the UC educational sphere. However, those who spoke during public comment time slot raised a variety of concerns regarding utilizing online education as an integral aspect of the UC educational system.

The first to speak, Oliver Bouan, Council on Student Fees Chair, communicated a positive response to the potential expanse of the use of online classes and resources.

“I think online education is a key part of the solution to moving forward,” said Bouan. He also pointed out some of the main concerns students would face with the substantial increase in the use of online classes, primarily the availability of teaching assistant positons to graduate students.

Also on the agenda for the day was the lack of diversity of faculty on UC campuses as an essential component to UC students educational experience. Jonathan Ly, UCSA University Affairs Chair encouraged the Board of Regents to critically analyze the diversity of UC faculty. Ly referred to diversity as more than solely a racial matter but the inclusion of faculty with a variety of backgrounds and life experiences as well creates an important resource for the vast range of students.

“We don’t have that [resource] for a lot of our students,” said Ly. “Please prioritize diversity not only in our student population but in our faculty as well.”

In addition to diversity, online education continued to be a roof of great concern. Robert Samuels, President if UCFT and writing and digital media teacher at UCLA, spoke on the implications the move toward increasing online education would have financially. The need to purchase software and equipment could potentially be more expensive than current course costs. Along the same vein, reducing these course costs, according to Samuels, did not need to be the main cause for concern as far as expenses go for the UC system. Rather, the UC needs to evaluate how the system uses its financial resources.

“We really need to see what is driving up the cost increase in the UC,” said Samuels.