Editorials

The Guardian’s Editorial Board is composed of the sitting Editor in Chief, Managing Editors, News Editors and Opinion Editors. Editorials written by the Editorial Board represent only the opinion of a majority vote of the Editorial Board, and are not meant to necessarily reflect the views of the student body, the University of California, the UC Board of Regents or the Associated Students.

Too Little, Too Late

Sometimes, wasting your time on a futile goal earns you a pat on the back and a “good try, slugger.” Other times, it earns you the ambivalence of 20,000 peers Nearly two months after the university announced plans to close several UCSD libraries, Muir College Council Chair Jessie Rosales assembled a task force was assembled to save CLICS. The group’s most feasible option seems to be proposing a referendum that, if passed, would not go into effect until a year after the apparently beloved study space is scheduled to be shut down. Although the task force means well, the gap between now and when any work would become visible is far too long.  Good intentions aside — it is now Week Nine and CLICS is scheduled to close immediately after finals. And the good news doesn’t stop there; according to university librarian Brian Schottlaender, the current $3-million cut to the library budget is the best-case scenario (using the word “best” loosely) — this means that, believe it or not, we’re lucky the university is closing a whopping five libraries and not doing worse.  In the face of such grim realities, there’s little room for Rosales’s impromptu task force — no matter how earnest — to save the day. It’s refreshing that someone is taking action beyond yet another “KEEP CLICS OPEN” Facebook group, and Rosales is making a noble effort. He’s narrowed the focus of his task force to one library rather than attempting to save all of them, refocused attention onto the library crisis, a fate most students have already accepted and has even recruited 15 members. The task force hopes to present its proposals — including proposals to turn CLICS into a “student-run space“ (think co-op but with books instead of food and marijuana) and create an $8 quarterly student fee  — to the Academic Affairs department by summer. But this can’t make up for a lack of planning and feasible options, as Rosales’s efforts are ultimately a bad case of “too little, too late.” As nice as it is to think that students would voluntarily work at CLICS to keep it open, labor-free alternatives like Price Center, Perks Cafe and even the dorm study lounges are — despite being slightly louder — cost-free, accessible alternatives. Even if there was enough student interest, volunteers wouldn’t even be qualified to be interim librarians for the year, seeing as UCSD does not offer a Masters in Library Science. Though student libraries are often essential to study (and for the truly downtrodden, eat and sleep), this can be done at plenty of other spaces on campus. The original point of libraries, lest we forget, is to check out books, and librarians are in charge of this data organization — a skill even the most studious coed is unlikely to have. As for a referendum, the time gap between now and 2012 elections is just too big. During the year-long gap between the closing of the libraries and the actual referendum (if it passes), students will have no choice but to find alternative study spaces which they will get used to, ultimately making Team CLICS obsolete. And let’s be honest, students rarely, if ever, support fee increases. The $8 per-student per-quarter fee is not worth it. Students outwardly oppose additional fees tacked onto their tuitions and, with the year-long gap between now and the far-fetched possibility that CLICS will reopen, students will find other options. Asking students to care about an abandoned building for a year is ridiculous, seeing as UCSD students have enough trouble staying in a relationship for that long (ahem, Triton Eye). The Department of Academic Affairs — the university division the task force must answer to — has already informed Rosales that it believes saving CLICS is not feasible. Rosales has called this reaction a “slap in the face,” but the university, after enduring millions in crippling budget cuts, is simply being realistic. Although it would be ideal to keep what’s left of our libraries from becoming overcrowded, the convoluted nature of university bureaucracy has proven itself unresponsive to many student proposals, especially those with bad timing and half-baked ideas. It’s nice to see fellow students showing some sort of an emotional attachment to our campus and it’s even more exciting that they are trying to prioritize our education, but good thoughts won’t bridge a $3-million budget gap. Nice try, task force, but it looks like CLICS is gone for good. It’s time to fight at the source by lobbying for more state funding. In the meanwhile, we should probably settle for finding a new location to chug Red Bulls and write papers. ...

Regent Resignation Was Best Possible Move

It’s been a difficult year for Jesse Cheng. As Student Regent — the sole student representative on the 26-member UC Board of Regents — the UC Irvine senior has been fighting for access and affordability in a year fraught with budget cuts and tuition raises. He’s also been faced with sexual assault charges from former partner and UCLA grad student “Laya,” as well as subsequent protests from the very students he’s supposed to represent. ...

Divestment Resolution Scrapped

[caption id="attachment_22412" align="alignright" width="198" caption="Photo Illustration by Andrew Oh/UCSD Guardian"][/caption] Efforts stalled Wednesday to pass an A.S. Council resolution that called for the UC system to divest funds from non-neutral corporations currently providing technology to the Israeli Defense Forces. This is the second year the resolution, proposed by Students for Justice in Palestine, has been brought before council. Last year’s version called for divestment from all companies that profit from human rights violations,, and did not explicitly mention Israel. TFI members claimed they were excluded from the drafting of last year’s resolution and felt alienated on campus, which led to contention with SJP. A.S. Council voted 13-10-4 to create a committee on the topic before moving forward, but the issue dropped after the committee failed to reach a consensus. At the same time, the UC Berkeley A.S. Council passed a resolution 16-4 to divest funds from Israel, but the resolution was later vetoed by then-ASUC President Will Smelko. Conflicts originally ensued after SJP announced its plan to present a resolution at the April 13 council meeting, but the respective organizations then planned to pursue a joint resolution for the 2011-12 academic year that reflected the beliefs of both sides. The orgs planned to announce this effort on April 27, but TFI withdrew support hours before the Wednesday council meeting. Both SJP senior representative and Social Sciences Senator Rena Zuabi and TFI Executive Board member Michael Yadegaran described the collaboration as “risky.” “It’s been an emotional roller coaster,” Yadegaran said. “Something like this [collaboration] on campus is unprecedented. Any cooperation between SJP and TFI [in the past] has been forced by A.S. and it’s only happened once and it was a complete failure.” A.S. Council had planned to vote on the resolution at last night’s council meeting, but in light of the failed joint resolution, the issue has been tabled, with SJP stating its intention to move forward with the divestment efforts. “Some TFI members said they have big big problems with the wording and the basic ideas that were put forth and agreed upon before,” Zuabi said. “We were told we can’t release this statement. TFI didn’t want to include ideas of neutrality in investments. SJP wanted to keep this basic [tenet] of the original resolution.” TFI Vice President Daniel Friedman expressed disagreement with specific clauses of the joint resolution. “TFI is firm in its stance that A.S. is not the place for a specific groups of different political views to [have dialogue],” TFI Vice President Daniel Friedman said. “Especially with divestment, which is bigger than just an Israel issue. The resolution had multiple identical clauses from last year’s [resolution]. Ultimately, we can’t support something that damages our university’s image and effectively punishes the Israeli defense forces for defending its citizens.” The original draft of the resolution stated that UCSD is currently invested in the stocks of both General Electric and Northrop Grumman through the endowment and retirement funds. According to SJP, both companies are connected to the Israeli and Palestinian conflict because they supply the Israeli army with helicopter parts and weapons to use against the Palestinian civilians. “The [original] resolution was only targeting Israel,” Friedman said. “It was an attempt to demonize the state and effectively collect punishment.” Both Zuabi and TFI President Lior Abramson commented on the progress of the two organizations at the April 27 council meeting. “I do think that this should be the beginning of a story of cooperation and not the end of a resolution,” Abramson said at the meeting. Zuabi explained why there was not going to be a presentation anymore.“There was a draft statement created last night to express commitment to that effort based off of original agreements,” Zuabi said. “Members of TFI are uncomfortable and contested current ideas.” The two organizations have put their collaborative efforts on hold and are pursuing alternative ways to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “We both had good intentions with this,” Zuabi said. “I don’t think TFI is ready to work on this dialogue yet. [SJP] plans on moving forward with divestment next year.” Additional reporting by Natalie Covate. ...

Back to the Start

In the span of 24 hours from Tuesday to Wednesday, two divided campus communities made an unprecedented step toward compromise — and then took it all back. On the heels of another Israel-Palestine divestment resolution, members of Students for Justice in Palestine and Tritons for Israel — the student orgs that have supported and opposed the petition in the past, respectively —  met last Friday, April 22, to discuss the controversial issue, which is brought like clockwork before A.S. Council each spring. But a few hours before Wednesday’s council meeting, members of TFI withdrew their support of the joint statement after hearing dissent from members of its community. And now the two groups are back at square one with no agreement and no compromise, only a promise on the part of SJP that the group will pursue divestment again in the coming year. A refresher: This is the second year SJP has introduced its divestment resolution, a resolution that, last year, packed the council’s Forum and produced 5 a.m. meetings with tempers running high on both sides. This year, just two speakers addressed council during public input, taking up only a fraction of their allotted 20 minutes. The resolution calls for the UC system to take a neutral stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict by stopping its investment in companies such as General Electric and  Northrop Grumman, companies that currently build parts of the helicopters used in the Middle East. Although UC President Mark G. Yudof has already stated that the university will not divest from the two companies, the divestment issue remains a important symbolic gesture that SJP members have compared to the move to divest from South Africa in the 1990s. UCSD isn’t alone; last year, the UC Berkeley council debated a similar resolution and passed it 16-4, but that decision was vetoed by then-ASUC President Will Smelko. Petitions have been started at Harvard and MIT, among other schools. Last year, the resolution failed again and the issue remained stagnant, despite A.S.-enforced attempts for the two groups to work together in a committee. The failure of last year’s effort makes this willing outreach on the part of the groups’ executive boards all the more commendable, and we hope that the executive members of next year’s boards are equally open to collaboration. But despite the optimistic beginning, poor communication has again prevented these two groups from reaching a consensus on an issue so important to both and perhaps alienated them once again. Given the 11th-hour withdrawal of support from TFI members, the group’s position may be hampered next year; worse, with this failed attempt, the two groups may write off compromise altogether. With an issue so fraught with tension and history, and one that is so regularly discussed, a weekend, even with the best intentions, won’t be enough to come to a satisfactory conclusion. The two orgs should start a dialogue on the resolution earlier in the year, and both executive boards should be clear on their goals and duties. This time, TFI withdrew due to last-minute internal disagreements; should there be a similar problem next year, both orgs should be clear on how they want to determine their positions, be it according to its executive board, or through the wishes of its larger community. Once both organizations decide how they want to address the issue, they can hopefully work together to move forward. ...

Council Hostilities Demonstrate Need for Election Reform

After three days of delay, 25 grievances and the attempted impeachment of President Wafa Ben Hassine, the results from this unprofessional shitshow of an election are finally in. With enthusiasm, coordination, balloons and even puppies (eat your heart out, Flush the John), Alyssa Wing’s Board the Wing slate has made the cleanest election sweep in recent memory, taking every executive position and all but one campuswide senatorial position. The results, at least, bode well for the future of council. Wing, always a frontrunner, has shown herself to be an effective campaigner, and with the rest of her colleagues with office, she won’t be plagued by the divided council that has paralyzed Ben Hassine’s efforts. Ben Hassine, who ran on Students First! last year, had very few slate running mates on council and battled opposing opinion at every turn, starting from the scrutiny of her associate vice president appointments before she was even four weeks into her term. With the leadership ability that Wing has already demonstrated, and the support of the most powerful members of our local bureaucracy, it’s likely that this unified council will go a long way toward Wing’s goals of strengthening athletics, making the move to Division-I sports and increasing student involvement. But for anyone who sits on council in the future, this year’s elections won’t be remembered for big promises or the the 1:30 results announcement at Round Table, but by the hours anxious candidates spent holed up on the fourth floor picking fights and trying to find loopholes to reveal the election results earlier. And it’s this process — and the divisions that grew out of it— that show a need for Wing, and members of every slate, to reevaluate their promises of unity, professionalism and accountability. Most of the now-famous 25 grievances were filed by the Students First slate, the people who conspicuously had the widest ideological gap from the Board the Wing, Tritons First and We Are Tritons slates. The number of grievances and the appeals that went through, led people to feel that the SF slate was trying to disqualify them in order to increase their own chances of winning, as happened in 2003 when the entire Students First slate was disqualified. It is frustrating, and rightly so, for anxious candidates to wait so long — and seemingly needlessly, since none of the results or appeals resulted in disqualification — for the results to be announced. And when grievances are over things such as not having written “Vote on TritonLink” on the poster, it is understandable that it seems ludicrous to keep on fighting. This shows that the election bylaws are worth reevaluating; while some grievances, such as the one against the now-failed University Centers fee, had consequential results, it is unlikely that omitting the place of voting on a poster had a big impact on who a prospective voter cast her ballot for. More stringent guidelines on how long the elections committee or judicial board is expected to stay, and more training for all involved, would have avoided many who waited for hours only to hear that they would need to return home. There’s no doubt that there’s a lack of organization in how the elections run, and that some of the guidelines need to be changed. But while the rules are there, and while the candidates agreed to adhere to the rules, every slate has the right to file grievances and go through the appeal across as they see fit, even if other people think it unnecessary. For people to stress accountability and transparency within council — and then try to impeach Ben Hassine in order to see the results faster — is a blatant display of hypocrisy and, had Board the Wing not so unequivocally taken the spots, would have set next year’s council up for disaster. Even worse is the harassment among opposing members, whether it was disparaging comments online, members trying to approach others to “negotiate” or angry messages written on the doors of other candidates. Come seventh week, when all the new members of council take the floor, it will be easy for this group of running mates to forget the stress of the past week. But if these members want to be truly effective and represent the student body as they promise, they need to look internally first, keep in mind those two days spent on the forum and ask themselves how they can prevent that in the future. ...

Tougher Local High School Requirements Will Benefit Students

San Diego Union School District is taking steps to make a UC education a more feasible option for its graduates. Beginning with the class of 2016 (or current seventh graders), students in the district will be required to fulfill the UC A-G requirements — a set of 15 classes across several disciplines — in order to graduate high school. This expansion will benefit students by requiring local high schools to offer these A-Gs; otherwise, students attending schools that don’t offer all the courses may be thrown off the path to a UC education before they realize it. This program will ensure that students with poor planning will not meet UC requirements without even knowing it. A 2009 Education Trust-West study of the district found that only 46 percent of SDUSD students who graduated fulfilled the A-G requirements necessary to apply to the UC. Only about 67 percent of the SDUSD class of 2009 was able to take all 15 courses required for the A-G requirements. Currently, SDSU students need only pass three math classes (or up to geometry to graduate) — one class level below UC requirements. Similar standards are upheld in foreign languages and the arts, in which students must take an additional year each to meet UC requirements. The district’s new requirements will ultimately amount to three additional course requirements over four years. The A-G course requirements demand that high school students complete three years of college-preparatory math classes through Algebra II, in which students must receive a grade of “C” or higher — meaning the SDUSD must add an extra math course in order to meet the proposed requirements. The $15 million this program costs will be well spent. Nervous administrators need only look to the San Jose School District, which made similar changes in 2002 to great success. Initial worries that low-performing students might drop out en masse have proven unfounded — graduation rates have held steady over the last decade, as have average GPAs. The initiative, as in San Jose, won’t stand alone. The program plans to expand tutorial programs and add the option of taking classes at alternative schools that will allow students to fulfill the new requirement. San Jose School District partnered its program with a mass recruitment of qualified teachers to teach new foreign language, math and science classes. Most important, SJSD created a “D plan” that allows students who don’t plan on college to take less strenuous classes and still receive a diploma. About 15 percent of students in the district have opted to follow that route. This program is a game changer that will allow the SDUSD to provide more students with the opportunity to easily fulfill requirements. And while a four-year university or a UC education may not be realistic for every student, the district has at least made it more of an option for all local high school students. ...

Growing Diversity

Last week, the Academic Senate approved a new diversity requirement for all six colleges — one that administrators surely hope will help clear the university’s good name. ...

Lightening the Load

At a campus whose 23,000 undergrads are as prone to complaint as they are to apathy, chances are you’ve heard someone grumble about Eleanor Roosevelt College’s history requirement. ...