UC San Diego hosted its first ever Giving Day between May 16-17, an event aimed to encourage donations through challenges and matched-gift initiatives, attempting to create a snow-ball of philanthropy. The concept of a “giving day” is not unique to our campus, it is a tried and true practice to create an event around university benefaction and prompt donations from previously unreached donors. The problem was not the fundraising itself, but rather the multiple emails sent to the undergraduate students of this campus, reminding them to donate to the campaign. This is not only unrealistic given that most students do not have the disposable income to make any significant contribution to giving initiatives anyway; it is also an extremely tone-deaf action in a campus that is currently still trying to address massive food and housing insecurity.Although for this event donors could choose what campus are they wanted to designate their money to, with categories like Athletics and ArtPower, these donations were clearly not targeted towards fixing the most fundamental problems on this campus. Far from being a surprise however, this demonstrates the lack of humanity with which the administration is willing to treat its students.
The brand of this university is research first, everything else second, and actions like mass-mailing undergraduate students who can’t afford to eat requests for donations is just one more example in the list. They so proudly announce initiative after initiative to placate the student body as we continue to complain about the miserable conditions we find ourselves in but by including us in those emails they prove yet again the bottom line of this institution, that it is not student-centered but rather prestige-centered. Our tuition money buys us a yearly ticket to the spectacle that is UC San Diego, Researchers Extraordinaire, and we are told we are lucky that there are so many research opportunities on this campus.
Every measure of improvement on this campus is reactionary, it is not because the university thought of its students but rather because there was public resentment against the conditions of the institution itself. There is a long and storied history of student activism on college campuses, a perpetual struggle against administrations with regressive goals and policies, and the ways in which it is the students that combat oppression. Most of the major activism campaigns we have on this campus are for worker’s rights, standing in solidarity with AFSCME and the other labor unions on campus, and that’s not even a UC San Diego problem specifically, but rather a UC problem. However, UC San Diego’s biggest problems are not an administration that is inherently opposed to progress and liberal ideologies, but rather one that wants to forget its a university altogether.
That is, an institution dedicated to higher education, which implies that central to that role are the people being educated (students) and their well-being during their time at the university would be a priority because they are paying for their time at the institution. Instead we are asked to fund, with our loan money and our part-time job money, some sixty-year-old researcher down at SIO who is neither a student nor a professor and whose research will bring accolades to the institution.
Hypocrisy between claiming to have students best interests at heart and the constant disregard for the student experience on this campus is nothing new. That being said, as this university continues its blatant prioritization of research and growth at the expense of the current enrolled population, it becomes increasingly clear that something has to change within the student body in the face of an administration that is unwilling to recognize its role as a university first and foremost.