Dear Chancellor Wilcox,
The University of California, Riverside welcomes you to your new position as chancellor, keenly awaiting the positive transformations you promise to bring to our university at the foot of the Box Springs Mountains. This summer, students learned that UC Riverside has scaled even higher on the diversity and community outreach rankings, and we are eager to surpass those levels of achievements. Diversity and outreach are the cornerstones of UCR’s identity and we now look to you to advance us to the summit.
In an interview, you compared your previous location, Michigan State, with UC Riverside by stating, “We are committed to making sure that all students from whatever background can come and live and work and study.” However, with all these goals, students can’t help but feel anxiety creeping over them when we realize that progress requires more funding. UC Riverside is known to provide financial aid to the majority of students that attend. UC Riverside provides financial aid to 77.5 percent of full-time students at an average of $17,035 in grants and need-based aid. It is with this financial aid that UC Riverside is able to have not only a culturally diverse campus but a socio-economically diverse campus as well. You must ensure that this financial aid continues to be provided so low-income students can still achieve their dreams of a higher education.
The headline “budget cuts” has transitioned from something we have feared into something that we have reluctantly come to expect. Instead of cutting vital resources or professors that are the root of our education, the administration should place more of its efforts into finding additional revenue, such as alumni funding. With an increase in alumni funding we can provide even more scholarships to our students to decrease the stress of having to pay for an education.
Two colleges that have embarked on the project of alumni funding are actually state-funded schools as well: Framingham State University and MassBay Community College. Framington State was able to increase its yearly donation from $300,000-$500,000 to $2.1 million relieving the drop of state funding from 56 percent to 33 percent. With this focus on alumni funding combined with state funding, UC Riverside can also decrease the tuition students are required to pay while attending college. Private institutions take alumni funding seriously since they lack the funds from other sources; however, with a combination from both, it can lower the cost of UC Riverside’s first-class education. In turn, it will allow the opportunity for more low-opportunity students to attend a university.
Although our university is considered a commuter campus, there are students that reside nearby in off-campus housing. However, due to the restrictions made by the city of Riverside to limit the amount of renters in houses, it has created a deeper struggle for residents to find affordable housing.
Because this is a public institution that desires to create an academic environment for its students, it should strive to accommodate these living arrangement by providing more affordable housing to its students. The purpose of this campus is to provide for a diverse socio-economic community but there needs to be a way to allow students to live on campus without struggling to afford to pay the rent.
We the students come to you not only for your innovative ideas but for a strategy on how to maintain our educational opportunities without blowing our wallets. UC Riverside has an autonomous government where we the students inform the administration on what we need. This is a vital component of UC Riverside in that it exemplifies the university’s goal to be a campus for the students. However, more personal relations should be built to connect the administration to the students, allowing for a stronger relationship between the administration and the students. The administration should make a habit of visiting the campus and speaking with the entire community and not only fractions of the student population. It is important for students to familiarize themselves with the individuals who are working to benefit their educational experience. This will not only create a more efficient system of feedback but a more involved campus that understands what goals the administration has for students and what aspirations the students have for themselves.
We appreciate the efforts that you have made to make contact with the entire student body and hope that you take the next step to maintain this communication. We are privileged that at a public university we have a better opportunity to make a personal connection with our professors. Your connection with the students will increase our trust in UC Riverside, and that the chancellor understands our needs in the university.
Although you have promised us frequent communication, it is important that the entire student body hears directly from you through means of media, speeches and friendly encounters on campus.
We the students come to you not only for brighter and more innovative ideas but also for a way to provide these ideas with more affordable means. We need to strengthen the areas that we are lacking in first before we embark on our path toward a more successful future.
The Highlander Editorial Board