UC Board of Regents’ Quarterly Meeting Discusses AFSCME Negotiations and Other Student Issues

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Jacob Wong
National Beat Reporter

The UC Board of Regents met at UCSF Mission Bay from Nov. 13-15 for their quarterly meeting, where the main focus was on the ongoing AFSCME negotiations and basic needs security for UC students.

UCSB had a brief moment in the spotlight during the Regents’ Public Engagement and Development Committee meeting when Chancellor Henry Yang delivered a presentation on efforts that the campus has made to reach out to the Santa Barbara community.

The meetings convened early on the morning of Nov. 13 during the Board’s first open session, which began with a public comment period featuring heavy representation from UC Berkeley students and supporters of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Last month, the labor union organized protests at UCSB and other UC campuses against the outsourcing of university employees.

“UC has tried to portray this protracted dispute to be about wages, and this is where your failure begins,” stated Kathryn Lybarger, President of AFSCME Local 3299. “This is about standing up to second-class treatment; it’s about fighting growing inequality; it’s about stopping outsourcing; most importantly it’s about securing a stable future for our families.”

Another topic that received heavy exposure during the public comment portion was food and housing security. A number of speakers including Nuha Khalfay, External Affairs Vice President for UC Berkeley, urged the Regents to approve the proposed establishment of a special committee on basic needs, which would focus on improving food accessibility and housing resources for students.

“The conversation about basic needs has been shifting from an initiative to long-term funding and strategy and that’s a strategy that we need to continue, especially when the UC food security survey shows that about 42 percent of students in the UC system are either food insecure or very food insecure,” stated Khalfay.

The Regents approved the committee during its Governance and Compensation Committee meeting later that day.

On the topic of food and housing security, the Regents also discussed advances in the UC Housing Initiative and funding for its Hunger Free Campus program. During the open session, UC Office of the President (UCOP) CFO Nathan Brostrom reported that the UC system had already exceeded its goal of providing 14,000 beds to students by 2020. However, he stressed that more beds were still needed.

At UCSB, 8,819 undergraduate students and 1,345 graduate students were reported to be living in campus housing during the 2017-2018 academic year, which is around two-fifths of UCSB’s total student population.

UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang made an appearance during the Regents’ Public Engagement and Development Committee meeting, where he gave a report on UCSB’s community involvement. He focused on the university’s role in the surrounding Santa Barbara area as an advocate for primary school education and a leader in scientific and economic innovation.

“Deeply rooted in community service, UC Santa Barbara has flourished into a preeminent research university that has tremendous impact not only in the region but also in the state of California and far beyond,” stated Chancellor Yang.

Yang went on to highlight a number of community-oriented programs that the university and its affiliates had undertaken in recent years, including research done by Earth Science Professor David Valentine for local officials following the Refugio State Beach oil spill in 2015, and its collaboration with local Harding University Partnership School, which teaches students from grades K-6.

The Regents had high praise for both UCSB’s community advocacy and Chancellor Yang himself.

“You are beloved in the community; everyone talks about how involved you are and all the outreach programs and engagement, said Regent Sherry Lansing to the Chancellor. “You make us proud.”