On-campus housing for sophomores, vaccination policy finalized, standing with DACA and UnDACAmented students and families

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

From: Chancellor Cindy Larive

I hope summer break is giving you a chance to recharge. I have noticed in-person activity slowly ratcheting up at UC Santa Cruz, with some staff and faculty beginning to make their way back to our incredible campus. All eyes are on September 18, when fall quarter officially begins. While I am enjoying the quiet that summer brings, I must admit that I am eager to turn the calendar pages and welcome our community back to campus!

The highlights

  • Fall instruction plans taking shape.
  • Rising sophomores also prioritized for on-campus housing.
  • Standing with DACA and UnDACAmented students and families.
  • Office of the President, UC students group together launch Double the Pell effort.
  • Mandatory vaccination policy finalized, mask guidance adjusted.

Fall instruction plans

This fall, we will have a mix of in-person and remote students, so programs needed to make difficult choices about how best to offer their courses to ensure access in different modes. While more than two-thirds of our classes will be in person, individual students will see variations depending on their major and the courses they are planning to take. We expect to have even more in-person courses in winter and spring as we return to more regular operations, as long as the vaccines continue to be effective against COVID-19 variants. Over the course of the past six quarters, including two Summer Sessions, we have learned many lessons in instruction, innovation and access, and we aim to keep what we’ve learned front of mind as we move forward.

On-campus housing for rising sophomores

There is positive news on the housing front to pair with our plan to return to primarily in-person instruction this fall. After our housing team finalized on-campus housing assignments for all first-year and transfer students, team members were able to accommodate a year of on-campus housing for all rising sophomores who requested housing during the priority period. I am so happy that our sophomore Slugs will get an on-campus housing experience, since most of them spent their first year of college in their hometowns. Living and learning together on our campus will no doubt strengthen the bond of this amazingly resilient cohort.

Move-in is Thursday to Sunday, Sept. 16-19. More details will be provided soon on the campus move-in page. Students assigned to housing will receive specific move-in details at their UCSC email addresses. As usual, volunteers will be needed to help new Slugs and their families find their footing on Day 1. Move-in is always a happy time, and I expect this year will be especially so. Consider joining me as a volunteer and lending these new Slugs a hand! Simply add your name to our volunteer sign-up form, and you’ll be notified when it’s time to select a move-in shift.

Standing with DACA and UnDACAmented students and families

In the wake of the court ruling regarding DACA, UCSC reaffirms its commitment to support the well-being of our undocumented students and staff. We will aid students, regardless of any fluctuations in immigration status. We continue to support DACAmented and UnDACAmented members of our community during these uncertain moments, and we will work with you to navigate these changing policies.

We will continue to monitor how this recent decision may impact the inclusion of students on campus. We are committed to ensuring that undocumented students are welcome and protected at UCSC. The recently formed UCSC Undocumented Student Initiative brings together students, faculty, staff, alumni and others to, among other things, provide consultative support to UCSC community members working to develop programs and policies, and implement strategies aimed at strengthening the structures that support undocumented students in their academic and personal pursuits. Initiative members will continue to engage around how this decision may impact the experiences of students on campus as we work with colleagues across the University of California system.

The UC Immigrant Legal Services Center, which serves the immigration-related legal needs of undocumented and immigrant students systemwide, issued a statement on the DACA court ruling and a frequently-asked-questions document that includes a link to resources. Additional resources are available on our campus through Undocumented Student Services. The university also provides support services for undocumented employees through the Educational Opportunity Program office Immigration Legal Services Resources.

Double the Pell

Cost should never stop anyone from going to college. Unfortunately, it does. That sad reality is behind an effort launched by the UC Office of the President, the UC Student Association and others calling on Congress to restore the purchasing power of the federal Pell Grant by doubling the maximum award. Double the Pell would help our students immensely.

Pell Grants have helped low-income students pay for higher education for more than 55 years, but today they cover only a fraction of the cost of college — far short of what students need to succeed. Doubling the maximum award would ease the loan burden on the 7 million students who receive Pell Grants annually, and help students meet their basic needs such as food, housing and health care. Expanded federal financial aid would also enable colleges and universities like ours to stretch their own aid funding to assist more families. Join us in calling on Congress to Double the Pell so more students can pay for higher education!

Vaccination policy finalized, mask guidance adjusted

The UC Office of the President last week released the final systemwide policy requiring COVID-19 vaccines of all UC employees and students. Limited exceptions and deferrals are detailed in the policy itself. Answers to frequently asked questions have also been posted online.

If you have yet to receive your vaccine, we encourage you to do so promptly. Many options are available. The systemwide policy requires employees and students to provide proof of vaccination prior to the start of fall instruction. Instructions for employees to submit proof of vaccination can be found online. Students should log in to the campus health portal, go to Medical Clearances, then COVID-19 to add their information. If you received your vaccine at the Hay Barn through our Student Health Center, we already have that record, and you do not need to provide proof.

On a related note, Santa Cruz County this week joined other Bay Area counties in adjusting the guidance for wearing face coverings indoors, regardless of vaccination status. This comes as we face an increasing number of COVID-19 cases in our county and the spread of the very infectious Delta variant. In light of this guidance, we recommend that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a face covering when accessing shared campus indoor spaces, particularly those open to the general public. This also applies to our Silicon Valley Campus, as Santa Clara County provided similar guidance last week.

Thank you all for doing your part to support the health and well-being of our university community.

Fall cohort reflects excellence, diversity

We released our fall admissions numbers this week, and I was thrilled to see the details on our new cohort. We received more than 74,000 undergraduate applications for fall 2021 — a record — and we’re expecting a class of about 6,100 new Banana Slugs. The incoming cohort is both academically distinguished and diverse, reflecting our campus commitment to excellence, equity, and opportunity. Please read the story on our newscenter for details about our admission numbers. Our campus takes great pride in creating a learning environment that supports diversity of all kinds. Different life experiences invariably lead to unique perspectives, which inform our teaching and research, improve problem-solving, and build bridges, ultimately enriching our campus community. Welcome, new Slugs! We’re happy to have you!

Presenting our Long Range Development Plan to Regents

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to present our proposed 2021 Long Range Development Plan to the UC Board of Regents. The LRDP is a blueprint for future physical development on our campus, painting in broad strokes how our main campus and Westside Research Park might develop over the next two decades. The plan identifies where students, staff and faculty could be housed and where spaces for learning and research could be created, while also imagining the infrastructure needed to connect it all. We completed the draft this past winter, capping four years of work by campus leaders and planners plus extensive collaboration with campus and community members. Regents had questions on housing, accessibility and alternative transportation, and liked that the plan includes additional employee housing as well as housing for 100 percent of new students beyond our current planning horizon of 19,500. We aim to return for plan approval later this year. UC Santa Cruz is on an extraordinary trajectory of achievement, and this plan lays out an even brighter future, protecting what is special about our campus while allowing us to continue what we excel at — providing opportunity, social mobility, and access to a high-quality education to California’s next generation of leaders.

Slug Crossing by the numbers

Our commencement was six weeks ago, but I’m still hearing great feedback on our first-ever Slug Crossing. I am so happy we were able to end the academic year on such a high note. Our commencement team did a remarkable job, enabling graduating students to come to campus and physically cross a commencement stage. I have some fun figures from the event I thought I would share:

  • 3,124 students participated.
  • 105 current and former faculty and staff volunteered, contributing 531 hours.
  • More than 41,000 people tuned into our livestream, watching for 12,252 hours! (Our most watched countries behind the United States were Mexico, India, Canada, Guatemala, United Kingdom, Japan, and Peru!)
  • About 125,000 people visited our commencement website this year and our university-wide commencement program got more than 14,000 views.

This was a commencement done right, accomplished under challenging conditions! Thank you to all who were involved!

An especially inspiring Slug

I learned many years ago that no two journeys are the same. Even people pursuing a similar goal will travel unique paths to reach it. I was reminded of that when I learned the wonderful story of Katharina Pierini, one of our 2021 graduates who took part in our first-ever Slug Crossing. Katharina first enrolled at UCSC in 1994. The story of her 27-year journey from first-year student to commencement stage is a testament to her resilience. I was delighted to see that ABC’s “Good Morning America” featured Katharina in a recent segment. If you haven’t seen it, please take time to watch the clip! She is one inspiring Slug!

Enjoy the rest of your summer. I am looking forward to the day when we will gather again on our beautiful campus!