Watson Looks for New Plan

As a result of last week’s defeat of the Campus Life Fee Referendum, Vice Chancellor Joseph Watson is searching for other ways to fund the expansion of the Price Center and Student Center that would not involve increasing registration fees.

“”We have to take action to keep on moving,”” Watson said. “”We have to prepare the campus for the 10,000 more students we are going to have, and we can’t wait until the last moment.””

Watson said yesterday that he met with the other vice chancellors to discuss expanding the university centers. Their immediate solution to the problem was to keep the funding for student services the same next year.

This would enable the administration and the Registration Fee Committee to find a better solution for the following year.

Watson said that the plan he supports requires cutting budgets in many student services such as athletics, recreation, health and disabilities by 10 percent starting in the 2002-03 school year.

In addition, he has said he wants to freeze the budgets of all student services, thereby keeping the allotment of money they receive from the school the same for the next four years. The growing student population along with the stagnant budget would provide money to fund the expansion of the Price Center and the renovation of the Student Center.

The freeze would direct $15 million toward university centers expansion during those four years.

Watson said that this plan is only an idea and that he is open to other suggestions. He added that a final decision would not be made until next year.

Members of the Registration Fee Committee have not decided what they will recommend to Watson.

“”The real thing is that we really aren’t sure what we are doing with this,”” said committee member Colin Parent. “”We are talking to our constituencies next week.””

Parent said that a final decision concerning the budget over the funding of the Price Center could take weeks because many factors must go into the decision.

Watson said that regardless of where the money is coming from, he feels that the Price Center expansion is important because it will become more popular as UCSD’s attendance increases.

“”The Price Center is clearly impacted now,”” he said. “”You go out there at lunch time and you can see the situation. Clearly there is a problem that needs to be addressed.””

Despite rejection of the referendum last week, Watson has already allowed the planning of the Price Center expansion to begin.

“”I felt it was important to keep the project online so that we can do so,”” he said.

Many students are angered over what they feel is another of several violations of students’ rights that have occurred in the last few weeks due to the fee referendums that have been proposed.

“”I can’t believe the administration is actually going to do this,”” said Warren junior Josh Campton. “”There was a reason that we voted down the last referendum. The students spoke, but obviously that doesn’t make a difference anymore. What we say obviously doesn’t matter.””

Monday’s registration fee meeting to discuss the matter of the funding for the Price Center was closed to the public, thereby eliminating the chance for students to express their opinions over the expansion of the Price Center.

“”I think [students] are going to be upset,”” Parent said. “”Expansion without approval will be subversive of student opinion.””

Watson said the problem is no longer whether the expansion project will get funding, it is a matter of when it will get funding.

“”There’s a problem at hand,”” he said. “”One could prolong it or one could try to address it in some fashion. I have asked the Registration Fee Committee to consider this problem.””

The debate now is whether current students should be paying for the expansion of the Price Center or if all funding should come from the students who will actually benefit from it.

Many students are outraged that they would have to pay for a project that won’t be completed until after they graduate.

“”Why on Earth should I be paying for this expansion?”” asked graduate student Todd Hamilton. “”I work for my money and I don’t feel like wasting it so that students four years from now will get to stand in shorter lines and order more kinds of food. Talk about a waste for me.””

Watson said he understands that current students may not benefit directly from his plan.

“”I think their preference is to not make current students to fund the expansion because they will have graduated in four years,”” Watson said. “”It is those students who will suffer the consequences. They are not the ones who will benefit from this.””

UC Davis had similar problems before it implemented a new policy stating that the only students who would pay for an expansion are the ones who will still be attending the school when the expansion is complete.

The students voted to increase the tuition for these students by $200 per quarter to fund their project.

Registration Fee Committee members said that a similar policy is being considered for this expansion.

“”I think it is something that needs to be explored and see how students feel about it,”” Parent said. “”It is not the perfect solution and I don’t know if I should be making the decisions for students who will be here four years from now.””

Parent said that planning the expansion and renovation of the Price Center and Student Center will take two years and the construction will take two more. Therefore if passed, the expansion would be complete in four years.

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