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Saturday, December 16

Submission: UC student representatives must speak out against nonresident cap


Earlier this year, the University of California Board of Regents capped the enrollment of out-of-state and international undergraduate students across its campuses. The decision has not been met with significant opposition from student representatives or campus staff across the UC.

UCLA’s 2017-2018 Undergraduate Students Association Council and the UC’s student representatives to the regents need to come out against the cap and lobby for its removal. By opposing the cap, our representatives will be performing their duty to the entire community they represent: residents and nonresidents.

The cap is a huge contradiction to the principles and values of inclusive education the UC claims to stand for. The UC-issued Statement on Diversity and Statement on Nondiscrimination stand out as prime examples of how the regents decided to ignore their very own standards and beliefs. The statements claim, “The University of California renews its commitment to the full realization of … equal opportunity in its education,” regardless of differences including “geographic region.” The Statement on Nondiscrimination echoes this in a promise to not discriminate during the admissions process.

A nonresident cap, however, is a compromise on these promises. The thought of capping undergraduate enrollment on the basis of other differences such as “race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, language, abilities/disabilities, sexual orientation, gender identity (or) socioeconomic status” is unthinkable, and a cap on the basis of residency and geographic origin is equally unacceptable.

Similarly, it is near impossible to imagine imposing a cap on other campus bodies such as the graduate schools or on the university staff, administration and faculty. Likewise, the undergraduate community should not be targeted for its composition. This forces us to consider why the regents even decided to compromise on their self-issued principles.

The push for the cap was much less motivated by antipathy toward nonresidents than it was by a concern for the placement of California residents at UC campuses. Many Californian taxpayers are concerned supplemental tuition may cause admissions offices to look more favorably on nonresident applications. Such concerns are fair, and it is the responsibility of admissions offices to ensure the admissions process is equitable and does not discriminate against residency with financial goals or demographic quotas in mind.

However, the cap is far less likely to alleviate these concerns than it is to make the situation financially worse for the UC. Put bluntly, it is a policy mistake.

While the percentage of residents in the UC system has fallen, the total number of California residents enrolled in the UC system has continued to increase. In other words, nonresident enrollment has not come at the expense of California residents. The increased enrollment of California residents even defied the recession-driven budget cuts the UC underwent, which the Campaign for College Opportunity predicted would reduce enrollment by 27,000 students across the UC and Cal State systems. This was largely possible in part thanks to the UC’s increased intake of nonresident students. California residents hugely benefit from nonresident supplemental tuition through paying lower in-state tuition, having access to a larger financial aid pool and attending an overall better-funded university.

Moreover, the idea that nonresidents take up residents’ enrollment spots is untrue; nonresident enrollment makes it far easier for a larger number of California residents to enroll at UC campuses. Since 2011, student tuition has made a greater contribution to UC funds than state funding has. This transformation means the interests of residents and nonresidents are more strongly aligned than ever before, and opportunities for residents and nonresidents now go hand in hand.

The mutual dependency between residents and nonresidents has been recognized by some prominent faculty and members of administration. For example, James Chalfant, a UC Davis professor and chair of the Academic Senate, criticized the cap, stating it would only restrict campuses and not really provide additional opportunities for Californians. UCLA’s Chancellor Gene Block also recognized the codependency of residents and nonresidents, stating the supplemental tuition money helps UCLA offer more courses to students and thereby shortens the time needed to graduate to less than four years.

The dangers of a “California first” agenda are apparent, and our student representatives need to come out in unified opposition against the nonresident cap.

USAC must first release a joint statement of opposition to the cap. The council’s offices must then pursue collaboration with USAC equivalents at other UC campuses, and collaborate with UCLA faculty and administration and nonresident alumni in urging the regents to repeal the cap. Doing so would enable student representatives to the regents to remind the board of its principles and illustrate the importance of the resident-nonresident relationship. With sufficient support and the appropriate rhetoric, we can see to a repealed cap, a principled UC system and a less constrained UCLA.

“We’ve got to take care of Californians first,” said State Assemblyman Mike Gipson earlier this year, when trying to justify the cap. “I cannot feed my neighbors’ kids if my own kids are going hungry.”

This analogy cannot be further from the truth. The resident-nonresident relationship across UC is one of mutual benefit, and it’s detrimental – and misguided – to think of enrollment in zero-sum terms. It is in the interest of all Bruins to realize UCLA’s significance surpasses the borders of the city and state in which it is located.

Kalis is a third-year statistics student.

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  • Valery Gomez

    If UC wants more out-of-state students it should make room for them by barring all unauthorized foreign nationals from matriculating at UC.