UC Is Failing Californians

I read with disgust that the state’s UC audit revealed an upward trend in admission of non-Californians. At UCSB, the number increased from 4.95 percent to 5.95 percent from 2013 to 2015. Seven percent of students are from out of state, and a further 7 percent are from abroad. The University of California was created to educate Californians — something that is fundamental to its 1868 Charter.

Section 14 states that “for the time being, an admission fee and rates of tuition, such as the Board of Regents shall deem expedient, may be required of each pupil … [and] as soon as the income of the University shall permit, admission and tuition shall be free to all residents of the State.” The charter goes on to note that “all portions of the State shall enjoy equal privileges therein.” There is no mention whatsoever of 14 percent of the student body coming from outside California.

As taxpayers we help pay for the University of California. As residents of Santa Barbara County we also contribute by not charging UCSB property taxes. UCSB’s purchase of Francisco Torres Towers, Tropicana Gardens, and, most recently, the “Pizza Bob’s” building in Isla Vista took those properties off the tax rolls forever costing millions per annum in perpetuity. That means the rest of us pay for services — roads, schools, lighting, embarrassing unofficial mega parties, and other infrastructure — used by thousands of UCSB students living in tax-free university housing.

Das Williams, our state representative, is oblivious to the UC Charter. His AB-3 bill, ramrodded through the State Legislature, will have Isla Vista residents vote to pay a duplicitous 8 percent utility tax for services already provided from property taxes. With this sort of legislative flimflam in place of oversight, it is no wonder the UC system struggles with transparency. Rather than holding the UC to their charter and focusing on tuition, Williams passes a bill that taxes student residents — increasing their financial burden.

Money the bloated $26 billion University of California avoids contributing to public services should be spent on educating our children — Californians. Think how many Santa Barbara youngsters could receive scholarships using the UCSB tax-break money that our community forgoes. What needs to be hammered home to Das Williams and his ilk is that the UC system is for California residents. We need to take back our University and start educating Californians.

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