The 2015-2016 school year has been long, eventful and packed with stories that the news team has attempted to duly cover. Below are some of the biggest events that happened this year.
UCR’s triumphs and milestones
UCR’s School of Public Policy launched its master’s program with an inaugural class consisting of 29 students and Anil Deolalikar serving as the program’s founding dean. Although UCR is now the third school in the UC system to offer this program, it remains the only school to offer an undergraduate degree in public policy.
Beacon Economics and UCR’s School of Business Administration partnered up to launch the Center for Economic Forecasting and Development to encourage economic innovation and advancement in the Inland Empire.
Federal research funding reached an all-time high for UCR, with the university receiving approximately $97 million in research grants, about $19 million more than the year before.
For the first time in its history, UCR received more than 50,000 applications with 52,467 undergraduate and transfer student applicants.
UC establishes plans to increase system enrollment
University of California President Janet Napolitano announced plans to increase UC system enrollment by 10,000 students in the next three years after negotiations with California governor Jerry Brown. In exchange for this increase, Brown promised that the California Legislature would grant an additional $25 million to the UC.
A finalized Three-Year Financial Sustainability Plan was released after being approved by the UC Board of Regents, and affirmed that the 2016-2017 school year would witness a system-wide 5,000 student increase in enrollment. Passage of this plan brought forth questions over how schools would accommodate the sudden growth in students in terms of housing, class sizes and support services offered by each individual campus.
Campus expansion plans unveiled
Serious discussions between Chancellor Kim Wilcox and the UC Regents on plans for UCR campus expansion ensued in November 2015 with Wilcox describing his strategy to implement the “UCR 2020: Path to Prominence.”
Wilcox released his finalized Physical Master Plan to the public at the end of May. Additions of new campus buildings, housing and greater accessibility to campus were promised in the plan, but also drew up the question of what would happen to the existing KUCR location and the family housing area.
Heat or Spring Splash
A meeting between the Highlander Union Governing Board and campus administration at the end of November concluded with the announcement that Heat Music Festival would be cancelled. Weather concerns were cited as the reasoning behind this decision, as researchers had predicted that the coming year’s El Nino event would be the strongest in years. Also at this meeting, the Associated Students Program Board (ASPB) voted to allocate $200,000 of funding that would have been used for Heat to the Spring Splash event held during spring quarter.
Arguments between ASPB and ASUCR representatives ensued into winter quarter over the decision to co-host Heat with Spring Splash or to arrange an extended Spring Splash. The original decision held in the end with Heat being cancelled and extra funding was used to host a six-hour Spring Splash.
ASUCR accomplishments and controversies
ASUCR Vice President of Finance Shafi Karim led the R’Gear program into its second year after making changes that decreased costs by $21,000 from last year and removed association with a specific freshman class.
R’Food Pantry, an effort led by ASUCR, the Chicano Student Programs and Undocumented Student Programs to decrease food insecurity, launched a preview day in the Bear’s Den on November 3 and fully opened during winter quarter.
Other notable projects that were set into motion include the introduction of free finals week parking in gold lots for students without gold parking permits and the launch of a new bike share program in the fall of 2016. Vice President of Internal Affairs Michael Ervin spearheaded the program which will make 50 shuttle bikes available in locations on or near campus to UCR students for free or at a small fee.
When elections cycles rolled around, it was met with changes to the elections code that legalized laptopping and shortened the elections cycle to three weeks. A week after the end of elections week, the judicial branch issued a statement refusing to validate elections results and called for a new set of elections to ensure a “fair and democratic process.”
Lower voter turnout, negative effects on mental health and finances were all arguments used to reject the holding of new elections. Judicial argued that many cases brought forth to them were in regards to laptopping, of which clear guidelines had not been sent out to students until the Wednesday of election week, disallowing for individuals deemed guilty to be punished retroactively.
Conflict over the judicial council’s ruling persisted for three weeks before the original elections results were validated and announced, with [YOUR]Side sweeping all of the positions on the horseshoe.
Riverside hosts Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton Rallies
Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders surprised many when they both made announcements that they would pay visits to Riverside on Tuesday, May 24.
Clinton held her rally in the early evening at UCR’s Johnson Family Practice Center, drawing crowds of students and community members to the campus, as well as a group of “Highlanders Against Hillary” protesters to the outskirts of the building before and during the rally. Sanders’ event took place at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium at noon that day, drawing a crowd of around 2,300.