Good Idea, Bad Delivery

We support increased oversight for the UC Regents, but SCA 21 and ACA 24 are not the best way to achieve this.

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Whenever one hears the word "autonomy" being modified by some form of "threatened," the tendency is to have a knee-jerk reaction against the threat-sometimes to the point of overreaction.

And that is precisely what the University of California did in response to SCA 21, a proposed constitutional amendment that threatens the autonomy of the UC system by introducing legislative oversight to the UC Board of Regents, and its corresponding version in the assembly, ACA 24.

The motivation behind SCA 21 and ACA 24, introducing a higher degree of accountability to the Board of Regents, is one worth supporting. Proponents of the legislation can easily point to questionable decisions in the UC system that merit greater scrutiny, especially if similar choices are made in the future.

Obvious examples are the recent pay hikes for the UC Davis and UCSF chancellors relative to their predecessors or our own campus's fiasco with Linda Williams last year.

However, neither the possible effects of the legislation nor the record of the state government itself with respect to funding higher education serve to support the amendment. First of all, it seems the state legislature forgets UC is, in essence, a public research institution-and that means its priorities are not just in providing for the best undergraduate educational experiences.

Second, one of the main reasons UC is facing budget cuts that lead to higher student fees, salary freezes and staff reductions is because of cuts into higher education by the legislature itself. It's somewhat laughable when a group of state legislators denounce the UC Board of Regents for not being able to deal with a decreased budget when that very decrease is caused by the state government itself.

The intention behind SCA 21 is laudable but its effects are not. The regents do need to be held to a higher standard of accountability, just not like this.






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