The end of UC Riverside?

Courtesy on my friend Sheila on FB, this just in, folks… UC San Diego has called, and they’d like you to go away now:

UC Merced is the target of a group of 23 San Diego professors who have proposed the University of California shutter the campus to save money.

The proposal was written as a letter to leaders at the UC San Diego campus and University Office of the President. […]

As part of a three-point plan, the professors suggested that either one or two campuses should be closed to create an eight- or nine-campus system. They also put Riverside and Santa Cruz on the chopping block.

As most of my readers so far probably know, I was until recently a graduate student at UCR, and although I have little bit of bitterness about my experiences, I’m not one of those people who wants to see my old institution burn (as opposed to, say, our ex-chancellor who, as a former English major, seemed to be fixated upon gutting the English department). So although I don’t believe that the proposal will be implemented, I do regard the suggestion to be alarming and disturbing (and hey, I don’t know if UC Merced was a good idea or not, but that goes for them too).

But let’s look at this more closely

Scull said the letter was crafted after an informal campus meeting in June, at which UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox explained how systemwide budget cuts would specifically affect the San Diego campus.

“It was disastrous,” Scull said of the cuts to the San Diego campus. “It would result in the end of the campus as we know it.”

Right… so rather than UCSD to end “as we know it,” whatever that means, it’s so much better for UCM and UCR (or UCSC) to, ya know, really end.

But this is my favorite part:

“We suggest, more generally, that in discussions system-wide, you drop the pretence [sic] that all campuses are equal, and argue for a selective reallocation of funds to preserve excellence, not the current disastrous blunderbuss policy of even, across the board cuts,” reads the letter. “Or, if that is too hard, we suggest that what ought to be done is to shut one or more of these campuses down, in whole or in part.”

Ha, that guy can’t even spell, so why should we save his dumb school? Okay, I guess I really shouldn’t be talking…

But seriously, in his jerkwad way, the letter writer brings up an interesting issue regarding our system, although it’s interesting perhaps in spite of his own axe. I mean, considering the sheer arrogance with which students from UCB (oh excuse me, I meant Cal… this is what I mean) and UCLA look down upon UCR undergraduates, not to mention the way the broader society considers it, there is indeed a pretty astonishing among of “pretense” behind the implied position that our campuses are all equal. I used to believe that these things didn’t matter, and that my UC Davis BA was completely adequate, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve started to realize that many of the egalitarian notions our country holds when it comes to higher ed often seem to be nothing more than “pretensions” when push comes to shove.

I’m all for dropping pretense, then, but only because we need to confront some of these myths, rather than running in circles, reading US News college rankings, being told they don’t count, and then realizing later on that our fates were sealed by them from the beginning. Let’s be real about where everyone stands, rather than luring people in under false pretenses, and perhaps if we can be more honest, people will be forced to admit that, in fact, resources are already not equal.

Any thoughts on this issue? I’m not sure where to go from here, if only that I want to say that transparency could lead to changes, but I really don’t believe that anything could change. We are the egalitarian/hierarchical nation, right? We can’t really afford to let go of one or the other without ceasing to exist, I’m afraid.

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3 thoughts on “The end of UC Riverside?

  1. Thanks for your comments, as a current Grad Student at UCR I share your frustrations and outrage at the incredible arrogance displayed by these professors at UCSD. Considering the cost of operating that particular school (which is considerably greater than any of the other three schools mentioned) one might realistically consider that UC would have greater savings by closing Professor Scull’s school than any of the others.

    1. Thanks for your comment, too! I do think these guys have no chance of pulling it off, although some of the official response to the whole thing has made me generally wonder about the priorities of the people in charge, as you can see on my later posts. Hope you’ll keep reading!

  2. I am transferring to UCSD this fall, and I do agree that these department heads are displaying wholly obnoxious behavior in their letter to the UC Regents. I am fully up for questioning and/or revoking their tenures, but it’s not a good idea to close down any of the UCs we have currently. The UC people should realize that every campus has to pull their fair share and step up their actions to recruit more students to keep these institutions going. Shutting down ANY campus will only displace tens of thousands of students to other institutions in-state or out-of-state, which will gradually harm the UC system as a whole.

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