A University of California regent highlighted funding as the main challenge facing the University in a meeting with UCLA students on Thursday.
UC Regent Bonnie Reiss met with about 15 members of the Undergraduate Students Association Council External Vice President’s office and representatives of various student groups to discuss issues faced by UCLA students.
The meeting opened with a discussion of the goals of the UC Board of Regents, with a focus on the UC’s financial future.
Reiss warned students that the funding provided to the UC by the passage of 2012’s Proposition 30 tax initiative, which prevented billions of dollars in budget cuts, will run out.
“The proposition passed because of collaboration between UC officials, regents, faculty and students, which successfully got the attention of Sacramento,” Reiss said.
A concern voiced by many of the student representatives at the meeting was the availability of information and funding to lower-income students from poorer schools.
Reiss said education outreach is one way of ensuring that qualified students from low-income backgrounds know that they have a future with the UC.
“It is important to encourage the dream of higher education before kids get to high school,” she said.
Denea Joseph, a second-year political science student, said many undocumented students are not aware that they qualify for grants and other financial aid options.
Reiss said she was interested in working with USAC External Vice President Maryssa Hall to set up a discussion between UCLA’s low-income and undocumented students and other regents so they could better understand the financial difficulties faced by current and prospective students.
“We don’t want to lose possible students due to an inability to navigate complex financial systems,” Hall said.
Students also brought up their concerns about increasing diversity in the UC. A portion of the discussion was devoted to the now-dead Senate Constitutional Amendment 5, which would have eliminated the state’s ban on affirmative action, allowing for the consideration of race, sex, ethnicity and national origin in university admissions.
Although she did not make a statement on SCA 5, Reiss added that there were other avenues to increase diversity on UC campuses. For example, lower income students are disproportionately African-American or Latino.
On the state’s Master Plan for Higher Education, which defines specific roles for the state’s three-tiered higher eduction system, Reiss said she thinks the plan needs reform, adding that she thinks the state failed to keep its promise of adequately funding students’ education.
“We should be able to find a rallying cry for education,” Reiss said. “Change is in the hands of students – history has shown that the voice of the young people can have a powerful impact.”