Student services to suffer from budget cuts

    Student services funding across the UC system will be reduced by $25.3 million in 2003-04, according to Gov. Gray Davis’ budget proposal. Meanwhile, officials involved in student services at UCSD have been expecting the worst, and have prepared accordingly.

    “”The major impact resulting from the budget cuts is in Student Affairs, which is funded primarily from the registration fee,”” said Vice Chancellor Joseph W. Watson. “”It’s likely that we will see a reduction in the amount and quality of student services on campus.””

    According to a Jan. 10 press release from the UC Office of the President, the UC system’s state-funded budget is close to $1 billion below what was expected out of the State-University Partnership Agreement, a pact outlining the basic funding requirements of the university. With such a deficit, the university is forced to use registration fee funds to make up for the absence of government funding.

    The immediate goal is to minimize the impact of the governor’s proposal on services critical to the operation and maintenance of the university and the education of its students, administrators say. These services include the admissions, registrar and financial aid sectors.

    “”Every department is affected by the budget cuts,”” said Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Edward J. Spriggs. “”But there is a value judgement placed on what is important.””

    Therefore, student services like recreation, athletics and other social and cultural activities will be hit hardest.

    “”One doesn’t want the Office of Admissions competing with something such as a concert for funds,”” Watson said. “”What this budget forces us to do is to become more productive and efficient.””

    News of the reduction in student service funding also raised concerns from the A.S. Council, which would like students to have a say in the allocation of funds on campus.

    “”Currently, there is no student input on who will get cuts and who won’t,”” said A.S. President Jen Brown. “”We are trying to develop a system with the administration where students will have a voice in budget concerns.””

    The governor’s budget cuts have already begun to affect services and programs on campus.

    In a Jan. 30 statement from the Office of Academic Support and Instructional Services, the department outlined its plans to suspend its writing program indefinitely as a direct result of recent budget cuts to student services throughout the university. OASIS expects the writing program’s services to remain suspended throughout the remainder of the academic year.

    Other student services, such as the Cross-Cultural Center, will see a reduction in events and programming that is normally expected and typically planned for the winter and spring quarters, since they fight to maintain the amount of staff necessary for its operation.

    “”It’s unfortunate that these cuts should come at this time,”” said Edwina Welch, director of the Cross-Cultural Center. “”It forces us to take a step back in our progress, but we’re committed to keep student leadership and staffing in order to maintain the human aspect going, even if this means less events and activities.””

    For campus organizations like the Cross-Cultural Center, staff numbers and morale are critical for maintaining the quality of services for students.

    “”It’s a bleak situation,”” Welch said. “”Everyone is affected by it.””

    The budget cuts also affect the athletic and intercollegiate sports programs on campus. For the 2002-03 academic year, the UCSD athletic department is looking at a $200,000 reduction in funds, which represents roughly 20 percent of its registration fee funds and 10 percent of their overall budget.

    “”We’re taking a big hit this year, but we’re surviving,”” said Director of Athletics Earl W. Edwards. “”However, we’re anticipating a situation that’s worse for next year.””

    According to Edwards, the majority of the money acquired from the recently approved athletics fee, which was intended to give added support for travelling expenses, equipment and uniforms for athletes, is now replacing the funds lost from the registration fee. This means that some teams may not be able to participate in crucial games and matches due to a lack of travel funds.

    Teams are currently performing a number of fundraising functions to help lessen the impact of the cuts.

    “”We have a commitment to excellence, and we want to maintain that commitment,”” Edwards said. “”However, if the current trend continues, we have to seriously consider limiting the number of sports programs and athletes at UCSD.””

    UCSD represents one of the largest Division II programs in the nation with 23 teams and roughly 600 student-athletes.

    “”One of the hallmarks of our program is the diverse number of sports available at this campus,”” Edwards said. “”But with the current budget cuts, it’ll be difficult to maintain that diversity.””

    Despite drastic cuts in funding, the university is still investing in projects to ensure that UCSD doesn’t take steps back in its progress. Programs such as the Next Generation StudentLink service helps the university keep pace with other UC campuses.

    “”We want to make sure our students are getting what they deserve out of UCSD and a UC education,”” Spriggs said. “”That means taking steps forward, even in times like this.””

    For now, the cuts seem to be permanent for at least the next four years, and the UCSD administration anticipates a campus-wide budget plan within the next three months to give a clearer picture to students and staff of what they must do and what the cuts mean for them.

    “”The budget is a long-term effort,”” Watson said. “”But our top concern is and always will be to maintain the quality of the university system.””

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