Editorial: Chancellor should speak up in U-House debate

    Chancellor Marye Anne Fox has been quick to criticize federal lawmakers for proposed cuts in financial aid, accusing Congress of failing to give education its due respect. But that activism stands in strange contrast to Fox’s silence in a local debate: one over the future of the $7.2-million reconstruction of University House, her prospective residence.

    The home, part of her contract with the university, will require the campus to spend $800,000 of its own money, and even more from the UC Office of the President.

    So far, UCOP, university employees and their unions have made their positions clear; but Fox has not broken her public silence. That has proven convenient for UCOP, which continues to point to the housing guarantee in Fox’s contract to justify rebuilding the La Jolla Farms mansion. But if Fox came out publicly against the plan, the university would likely heed her wishes.

    Few would say that having a campus-owned residence should not be a priority. But just as Congress must choose among a variety of worthwhile spending goals, UCSD must decide what to do with a limited supply of money and a limitless number of important needs.

    Fox, who has made much of her online “chancellor chats,” must now explain why spending money on her house should be a bigger priority than building transfer-student apartments or providing staff with badly needed pay raises.

    Sounding off on Capitol Hill policy from 2,000 miles away is, in reality, of little import. Addressing a controversy at home, though, is much more valuable and consequential.

    After all, all politics is local.

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