Madison Nguyen is ready to fight, fight, fight for the (insert Silicon Valley-themed mascot here)!
Nguyen, San Jose’s former vice-mayor and a current candidate for the 27th Assembly District, published an op-ed Thursday in the Mercury News calling for the creation of University of California, San Jose.
“It's clear that California desperately needs to start expanding the UC system and there's no better place for it than San Jose,” writes Nguyen.
The first part of her argument—that the UC system needs an 11th campus—relies on the fact that, “from 2007 to 2014, admission rates at UC for California residents dropped from 87 percent to 62 percent.” This is not due to a lack of qualified students. Rather, there are simply not enough UC spots for all of California’s sons and daughters.
The second piece of her argument—that the next UC campus should be here in Silicon Valley—piggybacks off legislation presented by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale). The bill, AB-1483, is working its way through committees, and it proposes creating a UC campus focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (“STEAM”).
“San Jose offers unparalleled possibilities for mentorships, local expertise in science and technology, and public-private partnerships that will make a STEAM UC San Jose a powerhouse in both research and learning with far-reaching benefits,” Nguyen says.
The heart of her argument is that UCSJ would create jobs, close the income gap and generate revenue for the local economy. To support this point, she cites a 2011 study that found that a $3.35 billion investment in the UC system generated $46.3 billion of economic impact.
While this may be true, Nguyen’s call to action does not touch on a critical point. Have you seen the price of land in Silicon Valley recently?
LoopNet, a commercial real estate site, reports a 5.4 percent increase in the last year in the median asking price per square foot for office space in the metro area. Simultaneously, there has also been a 43.9 percent reduction in the number office listings.
Scarce space is already being tussled over by tech and affordable housing interests; adding higher-ed to that mix could mean a bitter fight. And although AB-1483, which has support from 10 co-authors, provides $50 million for land acquisition, establishing a campus in such a pricey area will likely be a tough sell for the financially embattled UC system.
Nguyen doesn’t address this very real concern, but she at least seems aware that a new campus might not come easy.
“It's an idea whose time has come,” she wrote of the proposal, “and I will fight for—UC San Jose.”