Protests spanned UCSB yesterday as supporters of the Ventura Center for off-campus studies rallied against the closure of the satellite campus.
A small group of students chanting, “Hell no, we won’t go!” marched through campus — storming into Davidson Library and the UCen with a megaphone and signs — in response to the center shutting down. Students who began taking classes at the Ventura Center this fall were originally promised two to two-and-half years to complete their bachelor’s degree, but according to Dean Michael Brown, the UCSB extension campus will need $500,000 in annual funding to stay open. This cost, UCSB’s administration said, can no longer be supported by the university’s treasury, which is already hard-pressed by a $45 million budget deficit.
“This is not easy for us or for me personally, because this is the last program operated by UC to provide world-class degree-earning opportunities to qualified working adults on a part time and evening basis, who are limited by time and distance from attending the main campus,” Brown said.
Proponents of the center argue that the $500,000 a year necessary to keep the center alive is negligible given the campus’ success educating thousands of students since its opening.
The Ventura satellite campus was opened in 1974 as the first off-site education program among all 10 UC campuses, according to a press release. Since then, the center has enabled 4,000 students to take classes there. Currently, the center consists of a six classroom complex near Highway 101 and has a student body of 65.
Debbie Pastor, a student at the Ventura Center, said she is among many who feel unacknowledged by UCSB’s administration for their concern over the center’s planned closure.
“Our ideas seem to be ignored,” Pastor said. “We are not given updates and feel no support.”
In the likely event that the center closes, Pastor said, university officials have a responsibility to ensure a smooth transition for those currently attending the Ventura campus.