It’s that time of year again; everyone on campus is looking for a handout. Students of UCSB – don’t let the university fool you into paying for new sports facilities. I was a Nexus columnist from 1995-97 and worked with A.S. during my four years in Santa Barbara, so I know a little about the history of what they are trying to do here.
Here’s what’s going to happen. You pay to build a facility for “general use,” and then the Intercollegiate Athletics department steals it. Not possible you say? It happens all the time. If you want to go waaay back, take a look at the Events Center (or as it came to be known, the Thunderdome). This building was originally intended for “general use,” but don’t try and walk in there and get a pick-up game going, unless it’s midnight. ICA has it booked from now until Armageddon.
More recently, the same thing almost happened to the RecCen. The students approved a non-ICA sports facility for recreation purposes. By the time the building was opened, the charter was mysteriously amended and there was an ICA representative on the board. The first year it was opened, the RecCen hosted a diving match and a 10-school volleyball tournament. Student protesters disrupted both events, and the ICA rep was tossed off the board. So, we dodged a bullet with the RecCen.
Here’s a little dirty secret about the Intercollegiate Athletic Department. Shhh. They are a DEPARTMENT, not a student group, which means that they are funded by your tuition. Every year they ask for a lock-in of some sort. This is the equivalent of giving a lock-in to the Economics or Facilities Management department. If you give them your money, the university simply decreases budgetary allocations for that department, so they might receive exactly the same funding, on balance. Meanwhile the extra money that you voted to charge yourself is now going anywhere the administration wants. So, every year when the well-intentioned but brainwashed ICA athletes come around looking for a handout, tell them to go lobby the university, not the students. That is where their money comes from and where it should continue to come from.
Finally, I want to make a few points about lock-ins in general. First off, they are killing you in tuition negotiations with the UC Regents. Every time you raise your own fees, it’s a signal to the regents of an increased ability to pay. Second, UCSB was one of the few campuses when I was a student that even had lock-ins. Now, everyone on campus has one – UCSB is fast becoming an a la carte university. Your cover charge (tuition) no longer pays for sports, health services, or even the UCen. No one would say that these services are not important to student life – the fact is that they are SO important that the school should provide them. Do you think that if you don’t vote for lock-ins that these services will go away? Of course not. It’s just easier for the administration to ask you for money than it is to ask the regents.
Right now, you pay a ridiculous amount in lock-ins that students at other UCs don’t pay. Even if you only vote for one new lock-in during your four years, you are adding to the problem. Right now, you pay lock-ins for the RecCen and the UCen, don’t pay for any more buildings or services like the sports lock-in! By my calculation it is a nearly $100 million-dollar fee hike on the students over its life. (Any guesses why it’s cheaper over the first four years? That’s right, the university knows nearly all students who vote it in now will be gone by the time the escalator clause hits and it goes from $135 per student per year to $195 – in other words, they are hoping you’ll be willing to screw future students who don’t even get to vote.) Remember, it’s okay to be FOR Gaucho sports teams but against a sports lock-in.
If you didn’t read anything else in this column, read this: Vote no on any lock-in for a service that you believe should be provided by the university and vote no on any lock-in for any campus structure, building or renovation. You’ve already paid for all these things – don’t get stuck with paying the tab twice.
Tom Beers was an Associated Students representative and Nexus columnist and is still keeping an eye on all the crap that the university is trying to pull on students.