On July 28, the California State Auditor released an Audit reviewing the University of California’s information related to public funds, auxiliary enterprises, student tuition and fees. UC students were very pleased with the Audit and are calling on the UC Office of the President to fully implement the Audit’s recommendations.
The State Auditor called on the university to take critical steps to increase the transparency of its financial information, their budget process, and include its accounting methods in the budget; while making all such information available on its Web site. As the Audit stated, the University maintains extensive financial records, but certain records are not disclosed while others are vague.
“Students have long called for greater transparency in UC budgeting policies. It has been incredibly difficult for students and their families to understand exactly where their money is going. This Audit is an important step forward, but more must be done. UC students call on the UC to fully implement all of the State Auditor’s recommendations,” said Claudia Magaña, UC Student Association President and fourth year student at UC Santa Cruz.
UC students also have called on the Assembly Committee on Higher Education to hold a public hearing on the State Auditor’s report and its recommendations. “The state must ensure that these recommendations are taken seriously. Without oversight from the Legislature, students are concerned that it will be ‘business as usual’ with respect to financial transparency and accountability in the UC system,” said Magaña.
Finally, UC students are especially concerned with the revelations in the Audit related to the inappropriate use of student referenda fees. The Audit revealed that the UC designated $23 million from a student fee referenda that was not meant for the project in which it was used. The UC asserts that a student fee referendum, which allows students to impose a fee on themselves by a vote of the student body for a specific purpose, can be altered and used for other projects at any time as the UC Office of the President sees fit. The State Auditor’s legal counsel disputes that the UC has any such authority.
“It is absurd that the UC would assert its authority to change a student fee referendum at any time for any reason. When students vote to impose a fee on themselves for a specific purpose, they should expect that those funds will be used for that purpose alone. The Audit has brought to light an illegal and unethical practice by the UC that must be changed immediately,” said Magaña.