Disclaimer: The weekly A.S. Council column is not meant to be a news story but rather an individualized account of what occurs at Council meetings. If the most interesting part of a three-hour meeting is President Suvonnasupa’s haircut or an outburst from Senator O’Neill, the writer has the stylistic freedom to mention that in his column.
God, I love this job. Few things get me as excited as watching the political process unfold in front of my eyes, especially on an issue this important. Tonight’s A.S. Council meeting was almost exclusively about one thing: Division I. The chairs in the corner of the room reserved for the public, which are most often empty, were completely full. And all around were men and women in professional attire. Something big was about to happen. Everyone was there to speak about or find out if the Division-I referendum was to be presented to the student body.
The first person to give public input gave a speech that was more than a little out of the ordinary. The man, whose name he did not provide, presented the Council with an identification card from the UCSD Alumni Association, a card he said they will never see again. The rest of the speech was, from what I understood, essentially pointless rambling. He read from an old newspaper called The Catalyst and talked about tuition rates in 1967. He also explained that UC Berkeley, because of their early admission option and Division-I status, will steal away any athlete that would have potentially come to UCSD. He explained further that Berkeley also just opened a new $15 million pool. His final point was that UCSD will not receive any great athletes unless it builds a $15 million pool. I will admit that it was an odd bit of public input, but everyone’s voice deserves to be heard. I’m still not sure what side of the Division-I issue the man stands on.
Next, Colleen Daley, a student from Sixth College, once again urged the Council to let the students vote on a Division-I referendum. She explained that UCSD students have the choice to be excellent in anything that they chose to do, and that athletes should be given that same opportunity. This sentiment was mirrored by Golan Khorshidi. After having just watched “Parks and Recreation,” he was ready for a public forum. Golan told a story about his friend, a straight-A student in high school, who was deterred from coming to UCSD because of the lack of Division-I status. He told the Council that progressing in athletics is an important step in progressing as a school. Then Joey Tomkins, a graduating senior from Eleanor Roosevelt College, explained that athletes deserve recognition. As a non-athlete senior, he has nothing personal to gain from seeing UCSD go to Division I, but he understands that the issue is bigger than himself. Several other students spoke about the issue, not one of whom was against the referendum.
While my editor Kriti and I were listening to the public input, the woman next to us asked us if we were from the UCSD Guardian. How did she know? I guess she can recognize fellow journalists when she sees them. In particular, journalists from the Guardian. Annamarie Bezzerides, a previous News Editor for the Guardian itself, was next to give public input. Annamarie graduated from UCSD in 1991. At the time, there was debate around the idea of building a new university center. Because students from that time decided to leave a legacy, students today have Price Center. It is hard to imagine a UCSD without Price Center, but it would have never happened if the students didn’t act. Annamarie asked the Council to think about a future in which UCSD was on the national stage for sports. Because students carry their schools pride not only in their personal life but also on their resume, whether someone is an athlete or not, seeing UCSD play on a national stage affects everyone. That is because UCSD remains a part of you long after you graduate.
Another passionate speech was given to the Council by Ping Yeh, a UCSD alum and current CEO and cofounder a biotech company. As a CEO, he interviews the best and brightest for his company. What he notices is that graduates from a Division-I school have much more pride than those from UCSD. Ping Yeh explained that UCSD needs to compete with other schools both academically and on the field. As a student, Ping was involved in the effort to get the Triton statue placed next to Price Center. It brings him joy when he sees students or visitors taking pictures next to the statue because he knows that he was part of the process that made that possible. He concluded by asking the Council what their vision was for UCSD. What will be our Triton legacy? For what, in the future, will we say “We did that?”
Soon after public input, it was time to vote. The referendum, if approved by Council, would be presented to the student body during a special election on Week 8 of Spring quarter. It calls for a gradual $160 increase in student fees going to intercollegiate athletics. And, of course, moving out of Division II into Division I. In the end, Council voted unanimously in favor of presenting the referendum to the student body. The process is far from over, however. There is a five-step approval process which involves both the Chancellor’s approval and the approval of the University of California Office of the President. After all of this, A.S. Council has to give their final approval before the referendum. Still, we are one step closer to a Division I school. And the job of future Guardian Sports Editors is one step closer to being much more exciting.