Crafts Center’s Sudden Closure Was Easy Funding Solution That Will Only Damage UCSD’s Reputation

I can’t believe the way the university handled this. The history of the center alone, and the fact that its glassblowing courses are famous for being the best institution in San Diego to learn from, would have hopefully crossed the minds of the administration when they were trying to figure out what facility needed monetary support. I understand the need for renovation, and can see where the $1.5 million in costs would be as the facility is so old, but the point there that they don’t mention is that no renovation happens overnight, and the university would (had they chose to support the center financially) be paying for renovations over several years. They claim $1.27 million needed to be spent this year, and I want to know what they meant. Could it have been less had they only shut down part of the center? Could they just have limited classes rather than cutting the program entirely? Where was the $1.27 million going?  The estimated costs of renovation for the crafts center appears to be a tiny fraction of the Price Centers upgrade, but I am sure the university has already allowed for those renovations to be started.

The fact that the administration thinks that the Crafts Center is a large yearly expense is absurd. When looking at the cost difference between the fees and the total costs per year, there is only a $217,000 difference. Not only could a very large portion of that be raised, with all the fundraisers already planned by the staff, but furthermore, had UCSD chosen to announce the budgetary issues, alumni and donors would have been far more likely to donate. I have no doubt that the difference in cost could have been raised by the end of the 2012-13 academic year.

The administration not only forgot to make any public announcement of financial issues, but they left a fully working Crafts Center website up and allowed for enrollment. I don’t know if it was a number-crunching issue that wasn’t found till last minute or if it was intentionally kept quiet as the university didn’t want to deal with the protest or fallout of their decision, but the fact that they shut down the website and won’t even allow anyone to look at what used to be offered to students is in my opinion an intentional choice in order to avoid students seeking information about the facility. I attended UCSC as an undergrad and was a tour guide for campus, and what the administration does not seem to understand at all is that whether or not the students used the Crafts Center regularly, they all wanted the option. My tours questioned me about extracurricular activities, and I was always thrilled to tell them, as UCSC had (and still has) options for non-credit courses and workshops. I think UCSD severely underestimates the true interest students have for the Crafts Center. Just because the majority can’t fit it in to their busy coursework, doesn’t mean students were not interested in the Crafts Center.

I don’t know how UCSD plans to compete with the other UC schools for incoming freshman as budget cuts are destroying everything that made UCSD stand out from UCLA or Berkeley or UC Davis. All students need an outlet outside of class, and as you cut their options you will not only see an increase in dropouts but a severe decrease in interest from the potential freshmen. We know budget cuts have to happen somewhere, but as I walk around campus and see all of the expansion being funded in order to provide more money making opportunities for the campus, all I can think is that the traditional university ideals are dying; no longer is education being provided for education’s sake. I know it’s not entirely UCSD’s fault as they were forced to make cuts, but their options were numerous; they chose, rather, the easy route to close it abruptly. I see that they propose it shall be only closed for a year, but this is entirely contingent upon their expected costs, and at this point I do not trust that they have any real intention of working toward funding the program. It’s closed now and only time will tell if it will reopen, but anyone hoping to learn an artisan skill without having to commit to the intensity of a fine art major should look elsewhere.

— Danielle Payton
Administrative Assistant, Center for Clinical Research Services