Students meet with chancellors to discuss UCR’s response to COLA strikes

On Thursday March 4 at 3:30 p.m., four students met with Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Brian Haynes and Executive Vice Chancellor Thomas A. Smith for one hour to discuss UCR’s plan of action moving forward from the COLA strikes happening across the UC system. Vice Chancellor Haynes asked that The Highlander not be present during the meeting. 

The meeting was scheduled a few hours after a large student demonstration at the HUB in response to graduate students demanding cost of living adjustments (COLA) across the UC. For roughly three months now, graduate students at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) have been on strike, demanding pay increases to afford the cost of living in the area. Last Friday, the university responded to the strike by firing 74 graduate students. 

In an interview with The Highlander, Christina Manzano a seventh-year physics graduate student, Nicholas Darten, a fourth-year physics undergraduate, Mallory Peterson a third-year Ph.D. student in dance and Jackson Kishbaugh-Maish, a physics graduate student sat down to discuss what happened during the meeting.

Martin Lopez / HIGHLANDER

Manzano led the discussion, stating “He (Wilcox) gave us some updates from the Chancellor’s meeting with all the UC’s … there was no real resolve.” According to Manzano, Wilcox, Haynes and Smith agree that the UCSC engagement was unfortunate and they all believe UCSC should reduce the police presence. Manzano stated that Wilcox does not advise reopening the contract that mandates graduate student pay because “it would reward bad behavior and show disrespect to the system.” The current bargaining agreement states, “any employee who violates this (no strikes) article shall be subject to discipline up to and including termination of employment.”

Darten stated that they did not address any changes to be made in the future, “only things that have happened and what’s happening now.” However, they did discuss their plans for housing and the new apartment complexes which were not specified but were assumed to be the North District Development Project. According to Kishbaugh-Maish, they discussed keeping the apartment complexes simple and minimal in order to keep the cost of rent down because statewide, tax and tuition money cannot go into housing. Marzano stated, “Wilcox says they are taking graduate student pay into consideration when figuring out housing costs but it is not a driving factor.”

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