Looks like those picket signs didn’t go unnoticed in Sacramento after all.
In his final State of the State address on Jan. 6, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) made a monumental announcement: Not only does he want to restore $305 million in lost UC funding for the 2010-11 academic year, he also wants to make sure state-prison funding never exceeds that of higher education.
It’s refreshing to know that all students’ efforts to protest fee increases and budget cuts weren’t for naught. The governor’s aids even said the tipping point for Schwarzenegger was all the angry mobs across UC campuses this year.
But let’s not break out the celebratory bottles of Andre just yet.
First, we can’t forget these promises are coming from a leader who has enacted persistent slashes to higher-education funding every year in office (save 2006 — his re-election year).
Naturally, Schwarzenegger doesn’t want to go to down in history as the man who ruined the best public university in the world. But pressing the “rewind” button on six years’ worth of comprises to education will be no easy task — especially not for a lame duck.
And in reality, the governor’s promise is light-years from becoming realized. Democrats in the state congress oppose his proposed cuts to welfare programs, and his fellow GOP members aren’t too fond of increasing university funding.
And although Schwarzenegger insists that this $20 billion-lighter budget won’t involve raising taxes, he’s also counting on a $6.9 billion increase in federal funding to balance it all out, which — with the national economy barely treading the first steps of its rebound — is anything but a safe bet.
In the speech, he expressed contempt at the fact that, in the last 30 years, funding for higher education shrank from 10 percent of the state general fund to 7.5 percent, and prison funding has swelled from 3 percent to nearly 11 — an imbalance of priorities if we ever saw one.
Yet he predictably failed to recognize how much of that happened on his watch. Since Schwarzenegger’s term began six years ago, university funding has dropped 9 percent, while prison spending is up 32 percent.
Now, to reverse the damage that’s been done, the governor has also called to privatize a portion of our prisons — freeing up money in the budget for higher education.
While passing part of the prison system off to corporations might seem a good way to lighten the state’s load, it’s not nearly so simple. Private prisons contract corporations to watch over inmates. Like any other business, they’re in it for the money; the more beds filled, the more money in their pockets. What’s more, studies from other states that have tried privatization have shown that they don’t always save the state money. In fact, in Tennessee, the state legislature estimated in 1998 that operating a private facility was as pricey as running two public prisons.
The real reason our prisons have become such an expensive burden is that they’re so overcrowded. If Schwarzenegger wants to make our prisons cheaper for the state, he should start by reconsidering the three-strikes and drug laws that have bloated prisons past maximum capacity.
As much as we’d like to top off our plastic champagne flutes and toast to our new friend in high places, this board also recognizes the governor’s promises are riding on a long shot. We appreciate Schwarzenegger’s effort to reprioritize UC funding, but his plan to privatize prisons is hardly a surefire path to savings.
So until we see a proposal that both drums up legislative support and responsibly addresses the prison-system issue, we’ll remain grateful — and skeptically optimistic.
UCSD closed out a rollercoaster 2010 season with a string of tough home matches last week against steep competition. The final run began against the nationally top-ranked team Cal Baptist on April 14, then continued versus conference foes University of Southern California and Pepperdine University on April 16 and April 17, respectively.
Despite a difficult slate of opponents, the Tritons managed to send their seniors off on a high note. The match against Cal Baptist ended 25-30, 30-14, 30-28 and 30-26 in the Tritons’ favor, marking UCSD’s first win over the Lancers since 2005 and bumping UCSD’s record against Cal Baptist up to 4-11.
The first set started in favor of UCSD, until a late rally by the Lancers gave them the set 30-25.
The Tritons made amends for their first-set slip-up by dominating in the second. They took a quick 11-3 lead and allowed one attack error throughout the rest of the set, breezing through to a 30-14 victory.
The teams fought equally hard in the third set, tying the score six times and taking multiple turns as leaders. The last tie occurred at 28-28, right before Frank Fritsch and Calvin Ross created a set point for the Tritons. Fritsch’s kill sealed the set 30-28 for UCSD.
UCSD grabbed an early lead in the fourth set to finish the match quickly and cleanly. However, Cal Baptist retaliated late in the set by narrowing the score to 28-26, though UCSD still clutched the lead. Fortunately for the Tritons, Ross and Carl Eberts collaborated for a block and a kill, respectively, to give the team some leverage. Jason Spangler closed out the set 30-26 with a game-winning kill
Overall, the Tritons bettered the Lancers in the match, hitting a .304 average to Cal Baptist’s .218. In the second set alone, UCSD hit at a .706 average.
After a day of rest, the Tritons were back in action Friday at RIMAC Arena against USC. It was a close match, but the Trojans outlasted the Tritons in the fifth set for a 26-30, 30-21, 30-23, 26-30 18-16 match victory.
UCSD took the lead in the first set until USC came back to tie the set 13-13. There were eight more ties in the set — the last at 23-23 — before the Tritons took the lead on a Fritsch kill. A kill from Spangler and a USC error handed UCSD the set 30-26.
However, USC quickly turned things around, raising the intensity by dominating the second set 30-21. They continued their beat down into the third, out-hitting the Tritons .484 to .175 and winning the third set 30-23.
In the fourth set, UCSD took an early 11-4 lead, staving off an attempted USC comeback that did end up narrowing UCSD’s lead to a mere two points. However, The Tritons clinched it 30-26 in the end.
A decisive fifth set typified the back-and-forth nature of the match overall. A small 8-7 Trojan lead was quickly reversed — courtesy of a 3-1 Triton run — giving UCSD the lead. However, tied again at 16-16, a UCSD attacking error gifted USC the set 18-16, along with the match.
“We were disappointed in the match,” head coach Kevin Ring said. “We weren’t disappointed in our level of play, but the result. We worked hard and got off to a pretty good start. We played competitively and we played well in the match.”
After the close defeat to USC, the Tritons returned to face Pepperdine on Saturday at RIMAC Arena for their season-ending Senior Night celebration. For their final match, the Tritons came through to upset No. 3 Pepperdine 28-30, 30-27, 29-30, 30-27 and 15-12.
The first set was closely fought between both teams — evidenced by 19 ties in the set. Eventually, though, Pepperdine claimed the set at 30-28.
The Tritons started off the second set trailing 11-6, but fought back for a 14-14 tie. After taking a 20-17 lead, UCSD repelled Pepperdine’s attempts to even the set, holding on for a 30-27 win. The contest was tied at one set per team.
Quick to respond, the Waves took control of the third set. They claimed it at a sizable 30-19.
The fourth set was much far more difficult for both teams, and the lead fluctuated between the two. However, with the score tied at 21 points apiece, UCSD made a strong 9-6 run to take the set at 30-27, forcing a fifth set.
Fritsch played a vital role in the Tritons’ eventual victory, sending down five kills in the fifth set. UCSD maintained the lead throughout, and Pepperdine was only ever able to narrow UCSD’s lead to two points. After a kill from Joel Davidson, the Tritons took the set 15-12 for the match win.
“Winning Game Two was the key,” Ring said. “It can be the decider sometimes in matches. Through the match, we kept fighting and we sent it to Game Five.”
In addition to being a nice going-away present, the victory was also a monumental showcase in terms of individual accomplishments for the Triton seniors. Fritsch ended the night with 25 kills on .455 hitting, making him second on the UCSD career-kills list with 1,403 kills. Spangler added 14 kills in the match and finished with a total of 1,491 career-kills at UCSD — which makes him the school’s all-time career-kills leader.
The Tritons finished with a record of 11-19 this season, and 6-16 against Mountain Pacific Sports Federation teams. Although they did not reach the MPSF playoffs, Ring said he was encouraged by the improvement the Tritons showed throughout the season.
“The team has improved throughout the season, as well as in my five seasons here,” Ring said. “For next season, our goal is to try to get to MPSF playoffs.”
Readers can contact Jessy Jahangir at [email protected]