The University of California (UC) stated that there would be no layoffs amid the growing job insecurity within the U.S. As one of the largest employers in California, this was promising news to the millions employed at various campuses across the state. Yet, the UC’s narrative has seemed to change as they have been turning away hundreds of employees without adequate aid. The actions shown by the UC are proving that the UC Board of Regents are only thinking about profit instead of the lives that they are putting at risk. Real change needs to be made, and the UC needs to be met with hard pushback so that their funds are reallocated fairly.
Although it was said that the UC regents and president would take a pay cut early on, there has not been a public update since the initial proposal. Former UC President Janet Napolitano stated that the system should look to reduce administrative salaries and establish furloughs before eliminating other positions; however, with the recent change in presidency, it is very likely that a change of priorities has also occurred. It should be no surprise that the UC is only looking for the top dollar and that upper administration just wants to make money.
It seems as if the coronavirus pandemic has been all of the UC campuses’ favorite excuse to justify their ill handling of finances. However, while they all claim to be in financial disarray, things still don’t seem to be adding up. For example, the UC is still building a million dollar telescope in Hawaii despite protests. With all of this spending, workers are still being laid off, and the lack of money should not be to blame. Thus far, it seems like the UC is acting out of selfishness or the need to look flashy; people need to hold the UC system accountable for this lack of proper prioritization.
The UC can afford what needs to be done so that employees are taken care of. They are sitting on a $10 billion unrestricted budget that serves no particular purpose and has not been used on anything yet. Surely, this money could be used to alleviate the financial pain that the UC claims they are enduring. For instance, UCR Residential Life has been financially impacted due to the coronavirus restrictions and their limitations on the number of students able to live on campus, which is where most of their funding comes from. Therefore, UCR Residential Life may appear to not have the money to support residential life workers. $10 billion, however, is an obscene amount of money. Allocating money to alleviate a small problem like that would likely not make a dent in their unrestricted fund.
It feels obvious that the UC’s unrestricted fund is more for flashing their reputation than for helping their employees. While this large amount of money could be used as a rainy day fund to help employees in their times of need, the UC is instead choosing to use it for other means like a telescope or art installations.
There are many flaws that plague the UC, and one of them is that many of the regents in charge of making big decisions for the universities are not even educators to begin with. The UC Board of Regents is primarily composed of wealthy people that run other businesses who have been appointed by the governor to be regents. That fact that these people are not educators is questionable and needs to be taken into account when looking into how the UC is run as a whole. Employees make a tenth of the regents’ income, and although there are claims that there is not enough money to go around, the regents fail to acknowledge the wealth gap between themselves and the more vulnerable UC employees. An educational institution should not be treated as a big business because innocent employees will get swept under the rug.
The UC unrestricted fund has shown that schools such as UCR are capable of receiving adequate funding instead of having to scramble for money and cutting whole programs. For instance, UCR has only lost approximately $28,000 in canceled housing, dining and other programs, which is nothing compared to the $152,000 UCLA lost. Considering the UC has that $10 billion fund, Riverside should not have lost that much money and still have to lay off workers, cut budgets or even whole departments. It is unfortunate and shameful that while Riverside is one of the most diverse campuses, it is still the most underfunded. If the UC redistributed their fund to all of the schools for aid, they would probably still have money left over.
It is unlikely that the UC will use the provision, which is meant to act as an incentive given by the government in order to keep employees, in the year’s budget. given by the government in order to keep their employees. What could happen is that they would not use all of the money and only keep a few workers they deem essential, and then, just lay the rest off. A possible solution would be to stop using private contractors and outsourcing so that jobs are kept for UC employees only. UC employees should also be allowed to unionize, which will help protect them from being taken advantage of.
Aid for UC workers should not be placed as a burden on California’s taxpayers. The UC needs to be held accountable for the amount of money they possess and for the capability they have to help so many people in need. The layoffs need to stop, and money needs to be reallocated.