The rough economic times that now pummel UC Santa Cruz programs, it is shocking that any monetary assistance would be turned down. However, the bureaucracy of the university has managed to astonish, confound, and perplex once again.
The administration refused to allow the water polo team to continue, despite the fact that the team raised $400,000 in donations to fund the sport. On May 30 of last year, the team learned of the university’s proposal to cut their program and proceeded to raise pledge support. Now that the support and pledges are here, the university continues to turn its head away from reinstating the team for another year.
It is vital that alternate forms of income are considered when UCSC is in such severe economic distress. Student organizations that are willing and able to provide for themselves should be allowed to do so, regardless of the inconvenience it places upon the administration as far as paperwork and processing.
This, however, is not to suggest approval of privatization. To our dismay, Chancellor George Blumenthal said in a press conference with student media last week that “Private money is key to the future of our campus.”
This is not and should not be the case. The university is a public institution. The very name of the school speaks to the notion that it is an institution founded on deprivatization, not the reverse. The University of California is not a private university.
We are asking the university to consider private donations when it comes to student life programs — such as water polo, club activities or Engaging Education (e2) — regardless of the fact that donors are willing, even in tough times, to preserve programs that give the university vibrancy, diversity, and life.
We do not want private interests to encroach on our academic departments, where the disparity between certain divisions, such as the sciences, and others, such as the arts, is often in favor of the former.
Ideally, we would live in a country and state where the funding for public education receives more than the measley 3.7 percent of the California budget that goes to the entire University of California system.
But the reality is that we don’t.
Our school and its programs need as much help as they can get. In the case of water polo, where the funds are there, it is laughable and tragic that our university’s administration would refuse money raised voluntarily by the team and its supporters for reasons that seem to be very unclear and inexplicable.
To propose that a team be cut entirely while the economy is low, or to imply that a public institution begin to lean excessively on privatization, reflects the inability of the administrators at UCSC to look to the long term.
The economy in this country fluctuates. The economy has its ups and downs. And just as the bubbles of economic excellence burst when they float too high, so do the suds of the economic lows float upward once again.
This economic downturn will not last forever, so we should not implement permanent measures to privatize and alter the very core of its existence; nor, however, should the administration fail to recognize and accept alternate modes of monetary assistance to its programs, such as water polo, that are already saturated in promise and success.