Questions Are Somewhat Answered at Town Hall with the Chancellor

At last night’s Student Town Hall with the Chancellor, ASUC President Will Smelko introduced an evening of what was meant to be a “direct dialogue with our University administration.” The environment was tense and the crowd seemed eager to get answers. The speakers, including Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, began by making their statements regarding how the University of California has entered a 147 million dollar deficit since the budget was reassigned last May. The panelists discussed how the implementation of furloughs, cutting staff, and increasing the amount of out-of-state students would help prevent raising student fees.

As students and community members alike began to ask their questions, the atmosphere quickly became intense and even hostile as those demanding access to the full UC budget, greater pay cuts from the highest-paid faculty and no increases in student fees were receiving vague answers from the representatives of the administration. Vice Chancellor and Provost George W. Breslauer declared that we “must shoot outward, not at each other.” Chancellor Birgeneau clarified by urging students to go to your local legislator’s office and demand that they make accessible public higher education a priority. He also encourages students from the UC system, the Cal State system, and the community college system to participate in the March on Sacramento that will take place in the spring.

While students were grateful that the administration took the time and the risk to address these issues, they left feeling just as uncomfortable and unsure about the financial situation as when they arrived. Students shared stories about living in an RV because university housing too expensive, how University Health Services are no longer a priority, and how minorities on campus are being particularly targeted in the financial cuts. Karen Hernandez, a second year student, felt that the panel was “indirect and very vague.” She felt that “the point is to have a dialogue” but that the panelists were “very political.”

Jordan Silver
BARE Reporter

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