By Jamie Rogers and Tets Namba
Hello again, Vice Chancellor Parham,
We hope you remember us; we are some of the students who set up a study-hall in front of the administration building at the end of last quarter and the beginning of this one.
We appreciated that you took the time out of your busy schedule to chat with us and discuss some of our mutual concerns. We thought that it was a very friendly and welcoming gesture. It was very refreshing to know that the administration shares our concerns and we would like to take this opportunity to continue the conversation that was started Friday of week 10.
During our conversation we lamented together the decrease in quality of education at UC Irvine caused by budget cuts, as well as the decrease in accessibility to higher education due to tuition raises (not to mention increased costs for student housing and new fees such as the Instructional Technology Course Materials and Service Fee). You mentioned that, unfortunately, difficult decisions have to be made during these difficult times of economic instability. You also emphasized several times that it is imperative that students fully understand why and how these decisions are made so we can better understand the current state of affairs — we must, you said, be sure to have all of our facts straight when discussing such issues among ourselves.
Of course, we could not agree with you more. When we mentioned that we would love to have all of our facts straight but are often frustrated by a lack of transparency in the increasingly privatized university system, we were pleasantly surprised by your response. You assured us that the university is entirely transparent, and that you would help to provide any information we would be interested in. We have met with other students and we all genuinely appreciate this offer and want to take you up on it. We are particularly interested in UCI expenditures and how this spending is prioritized. As such, we have put together a list of items for clarification. We recognize that you personally might not have all the answers at your fingertips, but we appreciate your going out of your way to ensure transparency.
1. What is the total amount of state general funds allocated to UCI for each of the past six academic years?
2. What is the total amount of tuition paid to UCI by students during this period?
3. What is the total amount of private funding allocated to UCI, for unrestricted purposes (grants, donations, gifts, etc.), during this period?
4. What is the amount allocated for instruction and research (I&R) per UCI student during this period? What is the amount allocated per student in each school? Who is in charge of ensuring that every student gets their fair share in terms of money spent on their instruction, regardless of major?
5. How are changes (i.e. rates of change) in total enrollment-based funding (tuition and fees) during this period reflected in rates of change in adjusted I&R vis-á-vis rates of change in administrative costs? Has the percentage of student tuition going to administration increased in the past six years?
6. What percentages of student credit hours are taught by adjuncts and lecturers vs. ladder faculty, broken down by department and division ([a] upper division and lower division courses and [b] for upper and lower division students)? We would like to track this over several years, for example from 2006 to 2011.
7. Who are the corporations investing in UCI’s research? What are the losses/gains on research “partnerships” with the private sector? What governing body or group is responsible for monitoring and controlling these losses or gains? What body decides how these losses and gains are carried?
8. What are the cumulative carry-forwards (i.e. differences between budgeted and spent amounts) of every campus unit from 2006 to 2012? How are they repurposed, and who is responsible for deciding how they are repurposed? We have heard that the total in unencumbered carry-forwards was roughly $4 billion in 2008 for the entire system at the same time that many instruction and research units were being downsized. In other words, many units performed under-budget; however we can only assume that this surplus did not go to I&R units that were downsized. Many people are losing their jobs. Why didn’t the carry-forwards in 2008 help to replenish funding in such units?
9. What are UCI’s expenditures per year on private security services, investigations, homeland security issues, public relations and legal consultants, and what are the rates of change over the past six years? How does this compare to the 2000/2001 school year? What are the expenditures on private consultants such as Kroll? Who is in charge of budgeting these expenditures?
10. Where can we find correspondence between UCI and local police departments regarding the prosecution of Joseph Tamim Haider, Osama Ahmed Sabry Shabaik, Mohemed Mohy Eldeen Abdelgany, Ali Mohammad Sayeed, Asaad Traina, Mohammad Qureashi, Aslam Akhtar, Hakim Nasreddine Kebir, Taher Herzallam, Shaheen Waleed Nassar and Khalid Bahgat Akari (Irvine 11)? What role did UCI play in the prosecution of its own students?
11. Where can we find the full spreadsheet used by the Budget Work Group, the Academic Planning Group and the Academic Council in their assessment of the productivity of departments, including each dean’s overview of strengths and weaknesses and the “Measure of Quality” reports from each individual school?
12. Recently, all Organized Research Units (ORUs) except one were defunded. Who made the decision regarding which unit should receive funding? Why were the recommendations by CORCL (the group tasked with assessing these units) disregarded? Why did the administration task the group with assessing the units only to disregard their findings?
13. What steps have we as an institution taken to address the obvious conflicts of interest among UC Regents? Has the administration here put any pressure on the regents to divest themselves of holdings, positions or investments in companies that would profit from the UC raising tuitions, for example, companies that offer student loans or for profit educational institutions that compete with public education?
We think that this is a very important conversation, one that is too important to keep amongst ourselves. In order to open it to the entire community, we have decided to make this letter public, which is also in line with our mutual desire for transparency. We are certain that you would not find this too forward.
Sincerely and thankfully,
Jamie and Tets
Jamie Rogers and Tets Namba are second and fourth-year comparative literature graduate students, respectively. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.