The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian




The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian




Funds For All

Funds For All

Opinion_LynnHao

UCSD should refocus fundraising efforts toward pressing student needs alongside academic improvement

UCSD released its annual report of fiscal year donations last week — perhaps the last significant amounts of money we will see come into our university for a while, given the government’s current financial outlook.

The 30,289 private donors who gave to UCSD this past year brought in a pretty large amount; UCSD now has a whopping $150.3 million in private support, a 15-percent increase over the previous year. But even though the donations are rolling in, money just isn’t being funneled into the right places. The question is whether or not we can do anything about it.

Since these funds are from private donors kind enough to give us money in the first place, the university is obligated to use the money as the individual donors see fit — we’re not at the liberty to spend it elsewhere unless specified. This means that if a billionaire alumnus decides to gift $1 million to UCSD for the installation of a second house on top of the Jacobs School of Engineering (just in case the first one is feeling a little lonely), that’s exactly where the money will go, regardless of whether or not the university would like to see that same money go toward something different.

Of course, these donors — especially those who attended UCSD — are looking out for the university’s best interests, and we are definitely grateful. However, it’s sometimes hard not to wish that those immense amounts of money would go toward some often-neglected areas that might benefit students in more tangible ways. The university needs to allocate funds to develop a more positive undergraduate education and experience at UCSD — one that future graduates will remember and want to contribute to in the future.

Chancellor Khosla commended the donors’ contributions, as he should, saying that they would strengthen the university.

“Private gifts fund support for students, construct academic and medical buildings, ensure excellent patient care, fuel research, foster the arts and promise a diverse student experience,” Khosla said.

However, that the aforementioned statement is not exactly true. Looking at statistics, it’s easy to see that the fields in which the donations are directed to are consistent. In the 2012–13 year, nine of the 13 largest gifts made by donors went toward the sciences. The computer science and engineering department received an unprecedented $18.5 million from a single benefactor to create new endowment chairs and lab programs, and according to a report from the UCSD News Center, half of the total private support was aimed at continuing UCSD’s research tradition.

On the other hand, a mere two out of the 13 donations were specifically directed to aspects unrelated to research: $300,000 from the Triton 5K Fundraising Run was gifted toward student scholarships, and $50,000 was gifted by alumnus Karen Moraghan to support student lounge “The Zone.”

It’s hard not to miss the pattern.

Although it is immensely important to maintain UCSD’s tradition of top-notch research and cutting-edge scientific discovery, the university cannot overlook the less glamorous aspects of student life. We certainly appreciate a new building now and then, but we need to refocus our fundraising drives on more pressing matters. Undergraduate education, student organizations, university centers, housing and transportation are all suffering due to the lack of financial support.

Obviously, administrators are in no place to make pointed requests to these benefactors whose numbers are increasingly being made up of alumni; they must therefore begin more targeted fundraising toward these massive issues that affect students’ lives.

What is disappointing about the current situation, however, is that Chancellor Khosla came to this university under the banner of fundraising. He was recognized for playing a role in major campaigns directed toward energy and engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, and has done the same for UCSD’s Moores Cancer Center, the Jacobs School of Engineering and other science and technology ventures — but what we do not hear about as much is his work toward other campus-related issues, like student housing and transportation.

Day in and day out, students discuss the temporary double housing situations and street-circling lines for buses, but the status quo persists. Campus organizations languish under heavy debt, university centers struggle with securing even small referendums for maintenance and undergraduate tuition continues to cruise upward.

It would be unfair to blame Chancellor Khosla and the administration for not holding fundraisers aimed at improving campus issues like housing and transportation, and it would be even more unfair to blame donors for failing to recognize these aspects of our university’s financial deficiencies.

However, the fact remains that these student concerns need to be prioritized, and unless Jacobs agrees to sublet its dangling house to incoming freshmen, the action has to start now.

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