The UC Board of Regents committees on finances, investments and basic needs met virtually Tuesday over Zoom to discuss the UC system’s financial needs and burdens on students.
The Finance and Capital Strategies Committee opened the meeting, discussing plans regarding Evans Hall. A proposal to defund four UC Berkeley projects and allocate the money toward replacing Evans Hall was approved by the committee at the meeting.
“While these four projects are important, they are not as critical and their programs are not as student-facing as those in Evans Hall,” the agenda states.
UC Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Singh Bachher announced at the Investments Committee meeting that all $125 billion worth of UC assets is now free from fossil fuel investments, including the UC system’s endowment, pension and working capital pools.
The UC system has also invested $1 billion into “promising clean energy projects,” according to a press release.
“Today we remain convinced that continuing to invest in fossil fuels poses an unacceptable financial risk to UC’s portfolios and therefore to the students, faculty, staff and retirees of the University of California,” Bachher said in the press release.
During the Special Committee on Basic Needs meeting, Ruben Canedo and Tim Galarneau, co-chairs of the UC Systemwide Basic Needs Committee; Yvette Gullatt, UC interim vice president of student affairs; and Shawn Brick, UC director of student financial support, discussed in a presentation resources available during the COVID-19 pandemic. The presentation also touched on the financial and food burdens students are facing.
“Basic needs centers and hubs have been identified as essential services and first responders,” Canedo said during the meeting. “We do not have the staffing or financial capabilities to serve as first responders to all of the increasing demands of our community.”
Kate Klimow, a staff adviser to the regents, asked at the meeting whether basic needs centers and other resources available to students would be available to UC staff. While staff members may not seem included on paper, Canedo said, they will not be turned away.
Brick spoke on the financial relief students have received in light of the pandemic. The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act provided $130 million for UC students. Undocumented and international students, however, did not have access to this money. Individual UC campuses have initiated their own plans to help these students access institutional aid, according to Brick.
The committee also discussed recommendations for the future regarding basic needs in the UC system, postponing many of them for discussion at its September meeting.
“Having discussions about basic needs to other committees — those dialogues are happening, and it’s important to land on a firm pathway to what basic needs will look like moving forward,” said Hayley Weddle, student regent and chair of the Special Committee on Basic Needs, during the meeting.