Napolitano Should Heed UCSA Petition and Increase Transparency

The UC Student Association recently created a petition demanding transparency from California Gov. Brown and UC President Janet Napolitano through publicizing their monetary negotiations for the University of California. Since forming the exclusive “committee of two” in January, Napolitano and Brown have been meeting privately to discuss the costs of the UC system, among other issues. The decisions being made behind closed doors will affect students the most, which is why UCSA is fighting to make that information public. This petition asserts that all California voters deserve to be aware of Napolitano and Brown’s meeting plans, and already has over 1,000 signatures from students across the UC campuses.

Last month, Napolitano told  Bruce Varner, chairman of the Board of Regents, that the protests being held during the first day of the regents’ meeting were “crap” which demonstrates Napolitano’s blatant disregard for student voices. However, Napolitano may have a chance at repairing the UC Office of the President’s relationship with students if the open forum is created. The idea of the “committee of two” is exclusionary. Napolitano and Brown hold the purse strings, yet their de facto committee removes students from the process. However, UCSA’s commitment to influencing leaders may inevitably have some effect.

In addition to asking that the meetings’ be publicized, UCSA believes that students deserve to play active roles in the decision-making process. If the petition succeeds in convincing Napolitano and Brown to hold an open forum at UC Davis, students would have an opportunity to express their thoughts and be heard for once. Fortunately, students do have advocates in some state legislators.

Following the tuition hike announcement, lawmakers, including Speaker of the Assembly Rep. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), expressed began crafting legislation to counteract and prevent the hike. Most recently, Sen. Marty Block (D-San Diego) co-authored Senate Bill 15, which increases the maximum amount of funding allocated to Cal Grants A and B.

If UCOP fails to become more transparent, the University of California may lose the very autonomy it utilizes to justify not adhering to state regulatory practices. Last February, several state senators proposed an amendment that would give the state control over the UC system.

Whether or not the state’s control would benefit students is debatable, but decisions will be made and a cost will be paid by all parties involved. Decisions made under pressure and uncertain circumstances will likely harm all parties involved, especially students. Thus, information and clarity is imperative to sustain the future of the UC system and therefore the future of students.