UCR is one of the most diverse campuses within the University of California system, while also being one of the most underfunded. In comparison to older universities such as UC Berkeley or UCLA, which have been accused of admitting an onslaught of wealthy white students, the much more diverse UCR is barely scraping by. UCR is dealing with a growing number of students ー primarily low-income and first-generation ー and facilities that are practically falling apart, and therefore it is unacceptable that the University of California Office of the President is ignoring this blatant display of inequity. Something needs to be done so that funds are equally distributed across the UC campuses. If UCR continues to lose out on valuable financial support, it will not have the resources necessary to care for its students and faculty.
The underfunding of UCR is adversely affecting students and faculty alike on campus. Budget cuts as a result of the pandemic have been institution-wide, but it should come as no surprise that they have affected UCR the most. The fact that UCR has to even consider cutting something as big as athletics or the School of Public Policy is enough evidence to show how much less funding the campus gets compared to other UC campuses. And if we don’t get the money we deserve, the list of programs to cut may not stop there. UCR cannot stand to lose any more programs that benefit its student body. We already do not have enough resources to support everyone on campus, so losing more would be a large blow to those who require them.
On the other hand, facilities are in a state of disrepair ー especially in the humanities sect, and the lack of funding has made it impossible to begin any repairs. It is downright depressing to walk through classrooms that are grimy or old, and because of this, morale is extremely low. Students and faculty lack a university that boasts a curb appeal.
UCR is also severely understaffed, with the student to counselor ratio being disproportional most of the time. Advisors are overworked, and classes are always at maximum capacity due to a lack of teachers. At this rate, it will become increasingly difficult for students to get the classes they need, and every class will have to take on more students, which will make important one-on-one time with teachers a rare occurrence. Much worse, teaching assistants are not being paid enough and they are taking on too much work in order to supplement the fact that this university lacks proper staffing.
While many people are classifying this as a case of racism on the UC’s part, this issue is bigger than that. The U.S. education system in general has been notoriously inequitable, and the fact that the UC is treating its most diverse campus this way is merely a side effect of a broken system that has already been in place. This situation is very reminiscent of redlining, in which regions containing marginalized individuals receive less funding. And although it is likely that the UC is doing this unconsciously, they must still be held accountable in recognizing this unfairness and fixing it. UCR is in the middle of the Inland Empire, and if you compare the demographics of people to UCLA or UCSD, the difference is clear. We have more first-generation students coming from low-income families. As a result, it’s likely that this ties directly into why we get less funding, but enough is enough. The UC system needs to reallocate the right help that our students deserve. They have the responsibility as a prestigious institution to set an example and to make sure that the tradition of redlining ends with their campuses.
As much as UCR students and faculty can advocate for themselves, resources must directly come from UCOP. Unless they get enough pressure from students and faculty, nothing will be enough to coerce them into giving us the funds we desperately need. At the end of the day, UCOP will not dole out adequate funding out of the goodness of their hearts; it needs to come from accountability.
The funds being allocated toward campuses like UCLA or UC Berkeley must be redistributed so that all campuses, especially campuses with underserved communities like UCR, have the chance to thrive. The older campuses are already established and have a more secure footing ー and other campuses must also be given this right. The reallocation of funds from older campuses will greatly benefit underfunded schools like UCR, which will help provide a better life for our college students. With this money, the school will have the opportunity to implement better programs that have the ability to help people from marginalized communities on campus the most. It is indisputable that UCR students and faculty are as deserving of as much funding as UCLA students and faculty. Our student body is on the rise, and the obvious benefit of redistribution would be that so many more students from diverse backgrounds would be better supported and successful in their pursuits.
Of course, there will be inevitable pushback from students at the other campuses. They may argue that it’s unfair that some of the money they rely on will no longer be there; however, these schools have a large source of revenue coming from not just the UC, but from medical centers or athletics. Redistributing funds and leveling the playing field would not be a large hindrance to the students of these campuses. Wealthier campuses are able to better serve their student body with resources and counselors simply by the fact that they have more revenue to reach their students and provide for their needs.
Schools like UCLA and UCSD get a lot of money from donors, which should remain in their budget, but government funds should be reallocated. This way, everything will be more equal. We’re not asking to steal funds from these campuses directly; we’re asking that the UC reanalyze the way they distribute their money.
Other UCs should realize that we are all one collective university system that should come together to support one another. All schools need proper funding for their students to succeed, so this should be something that all the campuses can rally behind. It is up to the UCOP to make the final decision instead of leaving it up to the chancellors to agree upon. We cannot allow this issue to become buried. UCOP must be firm and act swiftly so that UCR, in addition to the older campuses, has the opportunity to do right by their students and faculty.