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Undergraduate student government officers will vote Tuesday on a resolution expressing no confidence in University of California President Janet Napolitano and the UC Board of Regents.
The resolution would condemn Napolitano and the regents for approving a proposal to increase tuition by up to 5 percent annually for the next five years if the state does not allocate significantly more funding to the University. Sponsors said they proposed the resolution because they think the regents have dismissed student protests in recent months with little consideration.
It would also call for the UC to notify UCSA of tuition increases 40 days before they are voted on as specified by Assembly Bill 970 and push for the creation of an independent task force composed of students, faculty, administration, alumni and state officials to examine the UC’s budget.
Undergraduate Students Association Council External Vice President Conrad Contreras, General Representative Fabienne Roth and Transfer Student Representative Negeen Sadeghi-Movahed sponsored the resolution.
The resolution was written collaboratively by external vice presidents of undergraduate student governments at UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC Riverside, Contreras said. UC Berkeley and UC Riverside student governments will be voting on the resolution in the upcoming weeks.
Contreras said he co-sponsored the resolution because he thinks the regents don’t take student voices into account in their decision-making processes. He said he thinks this was apparent in the regents’ decision not to divest from companies that extract fossil fuel in September and their refusal to delay the appointment of UC Student Regent-Designate Avi Oved in July, despite student protests.
The UC has said Napolitano and regents have met with students to discuss issues like tuition, but Contreras said he thinks that those efforts are not enough.
“It was very apparent that we would meet with them for formality, but (the regents) wouldn’t listen to us and vote on students’ interests, especially when the tuition hike policy was passed with so many students protesting across the UC,” Contreras said.
Brooke Converse, a UC spokesperson, said the UC would not comment on the specific resolution until after the vote, but the University understands students’ frustrations about tuition increases.
The University has said more tuition increases may be necessary to maintain the quality of the UC’s education amid long term disinvestment in higher education by the state.
Converse added that since the regents voted on a “long term contingency plan” that includes only potential increases, tuition increases may be avoided if the state chooses to allocate more money to the UC.
Savannah Badalich, USAC student wellness commissioner, said she supports the resolution because she thinks her position in student government gives her a responsibility to represent student voices.
“I support the resolution for a couple of reasons, but the biggest one is that I’m a student representative and an overwhelming majority of students are not ok with the tuition increase (proposal),” Badalich said.
Badalich said she thinks the UC needs more state funding, but she thinks the regents were wrong to use the students as “political pawns” in their bargaining with Gov. Jerry Brown. Brown has promised increases in state funding for the University for the next two years that are contingent on a tuition freeze.
Some USAC members said they plan to vote against the resolution Tuesday night because they are concerned about alienating Napolitano.
Carlos Quintanilla, USAC facilities commissioner, said he will not support the resolution because he thinks it could negatively affect USAC’s relationship with Napolitano.
Quintanilla also said he thinks some of the resolution’s language criticizes the appointment of Oved.
“It’s not right to attack the student regents who are supposed to be the direct line to the UC Office of the President,” Quintanilla said.
Oved, former USAC internal vice president, said he supports a system-wide effort by the UC student governments to fight tuition increases and pressure the state for more funding.
The student regents have been working together to create a “united front” against tuition increases, in light of anger from students toward the regents as a whole, Oved said.
“I support student governments’ efforts in putting pressure on the state and stakeholders,” he said. “I want to assure the students that (the student regents) are doing everything in our capacity to avoid the possibility of a tuition increase.”
Similar votes of no confidence in Napolitano have passed at student governments of other UC campuses like UC San Diego and UC Irvine after she was appointed in 2013, based on concerns about her deportation policies as former Secretary of Homeland Security.
Sanaa Khan, executive vice president for Associated Students of UC Irvine, presented in favor of such a resolution in 2013. She said she was worried about Napolitano’s lack of experience in managing a major educational institution.
Khan added that she supports USAC’s resolution and she thinks that ASUCI’s relationship with Napolitano has not been adversely affected because of their vote of no confidence.
If USAC passes the resolution, Contreras will introduce a similar resolution to the UC Student Association Board of Directors at its meeting in January.
USAC will vote on the resolution at its weekly meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Kerckhoff 417.
Email Leou at [email protected].
Correction: Converse was not asked by The Bruin about AB 970.