By Artoor Minas
“You Can’t Put a Price on Good Health” is the Physical Education department’s motto to advocate Measure 32 for this week’s UC Santa Cruz student elections.
The elections, which are taking place through May 22, will have a large impact on the future of the physical education (PE) program.
Measure 32 is asking for $4.50 per quarter to support and enhance the PE program, which is in danger of cutting classes that are currently offered. The department is currently operating on fewer dollars than it did twenty years ago, when the student population was about half of what it is today.
“We’ve been hanging by a shoestring,” PE Instructor Cynthia Mori said. “But we’re at a point where we’re taping that shoestring to hold on to what we have.”
If the referendum passes, the money will be primarily used to add PE classes, upgrade equipment, and increase salaries for instructors. The measure would also keep class fees low for students.
“Our goal is to broadly fund these programs so more students can take classes,” OPERS Business Manager Robert Irons said. “Rising fees wouldn’t help financial aid students. Getting this passed would keep the fees down.”
Because of the university’s history of a low voter turnout, the department is trying a number of things to increase awareness about Measure 32, including sending mass e-mails and handing out flyers.
“Voter apathy is a problem,” Mori said. “But this issue is important to keep PE around.”
Irons reflected on voter disinterest through a different lens.
“Student detachment is part of the nature of how our campus is spread out,” Irons said. “This referendum is for the students. It should come from the students.”
The goal, as stated in the referendum memo, is to develop the health of UCSC students in addition to stressing physical activity, and improvement with physical, mental, emotional, and social health.
“This measure is very important to the well-being of our campus,” Dance, Yoga and Pilates Supervisor Rena Cochlin said. “Many students have spoken out about how without these classes, they would be so stressed that they wouldn’t be here [at UCSC] anymore.”
If the referendum does not pass this week, the PE department will be forced to look at other ways to fund these classes. This could include raising course fees.
“Our object is to keep fees down,” Irons said. “The students and the department deserve this.”
The elections this week will be closely watched, not only by the administrators who are spearheading the issue, but also among the four thousand students who sign up every year for PE classes.
“The PE classes I have taken since I started college have been vital to my success here as a student,” forth-year student Ryan Avellone said. “These classes help motivate me in other aspects of life. It’s important to keep PE around for our own gratification.”