Editorial

    Facing a budget crisis, the California state legislature has cut research funding for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography by 10 percent, or $1.26 million. While it is true that the UCSD campus would not exist were it not for the influential oceanographic establishment and that the university owes much of its prestige to the accomplishments of Scripps, given California’s current budget situation, this is money that is ultimately better spent on crucial social programs throughout the state; Scripps should not be a funding priority.

    At stake in the cuts are the jobs of 20 staff members, Scripps’ newest and fanciest research vessel, extensive collections of marine and oceanic samples, and long-term research programs. If it is a decision between preserving these things or maintaining or stabilizing funding for K-12 education, Medi-Cal and transportation throughout the state of California, the choice is clear.

    Looking at the big picture, 20 jobs is not a huge cut; the institution will still have three other research vessels and the collections will be maintained by somebody, just not us. Yes, it is important to do oceanographic research because the oceans give us vital clues about global warming. However, the budget crisis will not last forever: Things like healthcare and basic education are immediately more important and essential for the quality of life of Californians.

    Unlike these other programs that are at risk, Scripps has the option of seeking alternative funding. With SIO Director Charles Kennel and UCSD Chancellor Robert C. Dynes both pledging their support to the quest for funding, it is likely that Scripps will find a way to get by. In the long run, this money can come from private donations and federal agencies, and for short-term relief, it can come from within the UC system from UCSD and the office of the president.

    Even the director of Scripps admitted that the cuts are an “”inevitable”” result of a decade-long reduction in research spending. However, given the circumstances, the biggest blow will be ultimately psychological, with the cuts coinciding with the centennial of the institution’s founding.

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