DC Program May Scale Back, Offer Fewer Courses

    UCDC, a popular program that sends UC students to intern in Washington D.C. while earning academic credit, is facing budget cuts that could dramatically reduce the program’s size and scope.

    The UCDC Academic Advising Committee met Sept. 23 to discuss the a reduced budget proposal. The committe will meet again next month to continue discussions.

    “We’re looking at ways to streamline the administrative structure and to take advantage of curricular overlap among campuses,” Associate Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education Barbara Sawrey said.

    The program allows juniors and seniors from the nine undergraduate UC campuses, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan to study in Washington D.C. for a quarter while working 32 hours a week at an internship and taking upper-division classes.

    Currently, each campus has its own branch for recruiting students and professors to participate in the UCDC program. The proposal under consideration by the committee would consolidate the branches into one larger entity in order to cut operating costs.

    “The UC Washington Center is a place where all the campuses come with their students, and that’s why each campus has it’s own director,” UCSD Washington Program Director Samuel Kernell Kernell said. “The new plan calls for a much bigger main center, as it takes over things that are presently covered by the campuses.”

    The plan would also make cuts to curriculum and residential programs. Kernell said that if all the branches are consolidated, fewer total courses would be offered. The reduction would especially limit the number of courses specifically geared toward UCSD students.

    “My concern with the changes that are being proposed is that they aren’t as attentive to the needs of UCSD students who need to come here and satisfy upper-division requirements to graduate,” Kernell said. “If we change the academic offerings in the ways that are proposed, it may not be as compatible for juniors and seniors who need to graduate on time.”

    Students participating in the program currently pay approximately the same quarterly fee in Washington, D.C. as they would at their home campuses. Though the student fees cover lodging expenses, the UC Office of the President pays for the program’s operational costs and administrative salaries.

    The committee is looking for ways to lift these expenses from the university—such as rerouting student fees or terminating administrative positions.

    “If they fail to receive student fees, the center would shrink in terms of its budget dramatically,” Kernell said. “It would no longer provide the type of services students now enjoy, which include outings and speakers. We recently set up student counseling services. For the first six years, there was nowhere students could turn. Now we have people who students can turn to, and students have taken advantage of that, and that costs money.”

    The committee plans to have its proposed cutbacks ready for review by Winter Quarter 2010.

    “Administrative changes would happen with the agreement of the campus, the senior vice chancellor of Academic Affairs and the UC Office of the President,” Sawrey said. “Curricular changes would need the approval of the Academic Senate — which means both UC-wide committees and local committees, such as the Committee on Educational Policy.”

    Sawrey said that the committee will try to maintian the program’s qualtiy despite the inevitable cuts.

    “UCDC is a wonderful program and is very strong,” Sawrey said. “Most students find it to be a life-changing experience. I visited our students last fall and found them to be a dedicated and mature group of people who were passionate about their work.”

    Ariane Myers-Turnbull, a recent UCSD graduate who participated in the program in Spring Quarter 2009, said that her experience with UCDC helped determine her career path.

    “I decided on doing UCDC instead of going abroad, and I feel like it was the more valuable choice,” Myers-Turnbull said. “I found the experience valuable for giving me work experience and introducing me to D.C. political culture.”

    Kernell said that although the future of the program remains uncertain, big changes are coming.

    “I’m concerned the program will change in ways making it more expensive or less attractive,” Kernell said. “I encourage all interested students to get involved now.”

    Readers can contact Ayelet Bitton at [email protected].

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