Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Interview with Arlene R. Keizer, Associate Professor of English. Our conversation took place in her office at HIB. Although we were assigned to do one interview, after my conversation with Patricia Pierson I became interested on seeking the viewpoint of a Professor on campus, as they would have firsthand accounts of the affects of the cuts on a classroom level. I also wanted to hear an English professor’s opinion on how the financial crisis has threatened the value of the Humanities.
Q: How have the recent UC budget cuts affected the English department?
A: Classes have gotten larger because we no longer have the number of lecturers we had before and because TA-ships have been reduced significantly—there isn’t enough money to pay for TA’s –and finally because there have been faculty who have left the university who can’t be replaced. For all of those reasons all of us now have bigger classes and more students and more grading to do, etc. So it’s a huge impact.
At this point I asked by approximately how much her class sizes had increased. Professor Keizer replied that she wasn’t exactly sure and referred me to Andrea Henderson, the Director of Undergraduate Studies. She explained that if I needed exact numbers Professor Henderson would be the one to find. Again, I noted this for future reference.
Q: Seeing as the class sizes have gotten bigger, has this affected your teaching in anyway?
A: Up to this moment I can’t say that I am doing things differently. I mean, my classes are pretty much organized the same way but when I get to the point of grading for a really large class, a 60-person class, that will be a really difficult moment. Typically it would be possible to have a grader who is doing at least half of that work. So it then becomes difficult for any faculty person to give a significant amount of feedback to all of the student work that they’re receiving.
Q: You also mentioned that there has been faculty who have left. Where exactly have they gone?
A: Two of them left for Berkeley, one of them went to Loyola Marymount University, and one went to Boston University— partly because the university was not able to offer his wife a job. So one of the things that allowed the university and many individual departments to grow as much as they did within the previous 10 or 15 years is that there was money available to hire partners, spouses, etc. And that money is one of the things that’s dried up in the budget crisis…That was one way of attracting faculty because people want to be with their spouses (laughs.)
Q: So when professors leave for other schools, how do the professors remaining feel about this change?
A: Most people feel a sense of loss. When professors leave and can’t be replaced you get gaps in the kinds of things that can be taught in that department. So the two faculty that went to Berkeley both work in American Literature, mostly 19th/ early 20th century literature. So it means that at a certain point we had enormous strength in that area and now two people who were rising stars in that field are no longer here. So there’s a gap that opens up there that has to be filled in some way, and can’t be filled until there’s money again.
We then began to digress on the subject of how she came from UC Berkeley and I commented on how Berkeley is very different from Irvine. She told me that she has had a lot of jobs in between since coming to Irvine and used to work at the University of Michigan…
It’s interesting to think about a place like the University of Michigan in relationship to the University of California because its seems like U of M started raising money from private donors at an earlier point. So while we’re having this enormous budget crisis, the U of M has quite a lot of money and isn’t experiencing the same kind of crisis. It’s worth thinking about it. They’re a public school and in a state that has incredibly high unemployment. It’s something to think about.
Q: How have these budget cuts influenced the spirit among the English department?
A: Well that’s probably where they’ve done the most damage. I think there’s a level of demoralization that you can feel. For instance, not long before the quarter started we got a message from the humanities dean that even with the furlough there would still have to be layoffs within the school of humanities. Which means staff would have to be cut. So more than 20 staff people will be laid off within the school of humanities and for faculty 1) it makes our jobs harder to do when there aren’t staff people to support that work and 2) we’re losing the people with whom we work. It is a very serious loss and I think all of the faculty within the humanities feel really sympathetic towards people who are losing their jobs at this terrible moment.
One more thing I will say (laughs) is just about the materials available for doing our jobs. This is something I complain about all the time: I got to class today and there was no chalk!
A: Chalk! There is a set of chalkboards in the front of the room. There used to be chalk. There is now no chalk. And it’s things like that where at the beginning of class I can’t walk back up to the department and pick up some chalk. I shouldn’t have to carry chalk around with me in my bag.
At this point we both fall in a small fit of laughter.
That is a sign of decline! ... Things like maintenance. The trash used to be picked up in our offices once a week if not twice a week. Now that will be picked up very infrequently. So mostly we have to throw our trash out in the larger trashcans outside or in the bathrooms because those get picked up everyday. So they cut maintenance workers and that’s what it means and it’s painful to see those signs of decline in an institution that used to be great. I mean I don’t have any problem throwing my trash out wherever I need to throw it out, it’s just that that’s a mark of a loss of prestige and resources.
Q: How do you think this “decline” will affect the future of the Humanities?
A: I think one of the problems with cuts like these is that the university is being asked to place a value on all of the things that it does. So how valuable is an education in the sciences? How valuable is an education in humanities? How valuable is teaching people how to write? So for instance, we have more small classes in the humanities because many of them are writing classes or many of them are classes in which we’re closely looking at texts, and its hard to do that once you get above a certain number. But the cuts make it harder to maintain small class size and to me that’s one of the ways the university needs to think about how valuable the humanities are. So can they spend the money to make sure students can learn to write with no more than 20 other classmates? Can they spend the money to make sure that classes in Creative Writing or Drama, etc. are small enough that people are really able to hone their skills? And that’s a question of whether people feel the humanities are valuable enough within this society that they want to support them. We need the arts. We need the humanities. We can’t survive without them.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Lynn Mally, Director of Humanities Out There; "It’s going to take some optimistic young professors to get this system back on its feet."
Lynn Mally is a Professor of Russian Studies and director of the H.O.T. (Humanities Out There) program, which is in jeopardy of being cut from funding next year. As of yet, she has been informed that there is enough support for this scholastic year, but as for next year it may be cut due to the recent UC budget cuts initiatives. Similarly, I chose to take a different angle and approach to this interview, seeing as how reporters from the school newspapers and students had asked her the same questions. I took the angle that there is a “brain drain,” effect happening. And ultimately she relayed to me that it damaged her spirits.
Q: We are sometimes called “The Ivy League of the West Coast.” And sometimes, people within the system do not realize this, but it is sort of fact. How do you think (the budget cuts) this is going to affect our status as such an acclaimed University system?
A: This is definitely true we do have some of the best and brightest in their fields coming to teach in our system, specifically in our system (Irvine). For example in our History department we have a Professor named Ken Pomeranz who is world famous for his research in Chinese history, he sort of invented this whole method of thinking. I myself and one other professor teach Russian Studies. And I am about to retire, not because of the budget cuts but it was planned anyway, but the other professor is older, and I fought for this program’s future just the way I fought for H.O.T. And both of these programs’ futures are uncertain in the upcoming years.
Q: We are known fairly well for being a school of engineering and science, a lot of pre-med and biology undergrads is a popular major. But we also have this amazing humanities department. How do you think these cuts will affect the quality of these programs, will there be a type of ‘brain drain’ if they are compromised?
A: Well I can tell you already we haven’t been able to compete with other Universities for high-ranking professors. Just the other day I heard about one of our major contributing history professors was offered a job at University of Penn. with a research tenure and other accommodations that we just can’t match anymore. We won’t be able to compete even with private colleges in our state because we will probably be the last in the university system as a whole to climb out of this deficit because we are not funded the way private universities are. Private universities receive a lot more money from their alumni and market themselves differently then we do and they don’t rely on public funding as much. This means that these universities will be able to engage in hiring high caliber professors and other resources again more quickly than the state systems. For example we had a history professor here who was at the top of their field and he was offered an opportunity to go teach at another private university for higher, pay, unlimited research resources, and other handsome features. And the university (UCI) was not able to offer a counter offer, so that is an example of how we are loosing out in quality of professors, and may continue to get worse (in light of the budget cuts) in the future. Let me give you another example Mr. Pomeranz, is an invaluable asset to the history department and if he was offered another position an another university we would not be able to give a counter offer.
One thing the University of California does, and does really well is that it allows time for the professors to research their fields and keep them up to date on what they are teaching so that they are giving their students the most relevant information. And I worry that that component of the university system may be in threatened, and if that happens people (professors ad students) really are going to leave, because that’s not what they signed up for.
Q: What would be the adverse affects of having the H.O.T program eliminated? Why is it unique?
A: What makes the HOT program unique is that it is curriculum-based program that exposes UCI students to the community and lets them try their hand at teaching. This outreach program goes out into the communities at a level that gives grad students and undergrads an opportunity to have hands on experience at the teaching level to motivate and get these kids excited about college. To have program like this go out would adversely affect the state twice: once by damaging student who I’ve seen come out of the program that are excited about teaching and are quality teachers and (second) the lack of there presence not creating a gateway for students to want to come to our school and maybe not even college.
Q: I know you said earlier that you were retiring next year, so I sense that you feel a little removed from the situation at hand. How does this affect you personally? If you feel that is does?
A: You know I have been planning for a retirement for a while and nothing really had influence on that, it just proved good timing. But this whole ordeal has broken my spirits. I am a product of this system and the system I came out of that I help build is changing. Instead of now celebrating my retirement I am not. It’s going to take some optimistic young professors to get this system back up and I don’t think I have those qualities to do that anymore. The problem is that the system is changing and we are not sure what the end product of that is going to be but it is going to be an uphill battle, and I feel like there maybe some more suffering within the system before its all finished. It’s going to be the same UC system its going to be a different.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Ellen Schlosser, Director of Global Connect; "Is any one worried about programs that need to be transitioned? "
By Christie Sosa
Q: How long have you been employed at UCI?
A: Since the spring of 1986, currently going into my 24th year.
Q: Can you tell me the history of Global Connect?
A: I created Global Connect with the blessings of the Vice Chancellor Manuel Gomez, he’s the one who put the challenge down.
Q: Where did the idea come from?
A: Here was the challenge, the Vice Chancellor said, “How come we’ve never had an outreach program from the School of Social Sciences? Probably because all the money for outreach always went to math and science.” Manuel Gomez felt this cause a void, in the sense that all students were being taught the world is made out of just math and science.
Ellen went on for a few minutes to explain the importance of the program and it’s ability to help improve literacy skills in non-fiction ways and to expose students to the “real world”
Q: How old is the program?
A: I was on a computer in my house, the summer of 2001 and was actually implemented the next Fall. Vice Chancellor said, I’ll give you the money if you can implement it. So the challenge was to design it and the challenge was getting into public schools, because it is not easy.
Q: What high schools is Global Connect teaching at?
A: We first checked out Santa Ana and it didn’t work out at first because they wanted us to design a geography class and that had nothing to do with the concept I had in mind. Turns out, after we met with them, the Santa Ana school district was taken over by the state for incompetency. We had no idea the school district was in such disarray. So we approached people at Newport Mesa Unified, and ended up starting at Estancia and Costa Mesa High. We currently run the program there and at Newport Harbor and Laguna Hills as well.
Q: Has Global Connect been affected by the budget cuts?
A: It’s grown without money; it’s the energy and generosity of people. There is enough money just to keep us breathing. But it’s the energy and generosity of people and the undergraduates that has kept it alive.
Q: When did you feel the School of Social Sciences was being affected by the budget cuts?
A: In the Fall of last year, I was in Washington D.C for the UCDC program with my husband as a lecturer and by the time I came back, the issue of money was apparent. The Administration of the school, the Dean, the Associate Dean started to realize how deep those cuts would have to be.
Q: Amidst this entire financial crisis, how has Global Connect managed?
A: Global Connect impacts undergraduates directly, and they have created a legacy for the school and lots of them have been placed in high ranked graduate schools. I believe the reason Global Connect is secure this year is because we’ve never enjoyed too much funding. I really don’t know where it’ll stand next year. Truth is, we weren’t on the big hit list because there is only myself on school salary.
Q: What is Global Connects budget?
A: My salary, … I am the only one who’s really paid salary to do the program. The only other costs are the two rooms we use, and computers, paper, which doesn’t seem to be a problem so much.
Q: What are your other financial concerns?
A: Memory is an interesting word right now. All the young people think of computer gigs when I say this, but I’m concerned about the things we’ll loose. One is institutional memory. I have seen the institution encourage early retirement, and a lot of outstanding people I know from campus, the head of the career center, Katherine V. and Robin C. from Educational Partnerships, left. These people who have run and led major programs on campus have been encouraged to retire and that in itself isn’t bad because you make room for lower salary people, but I really don’t think they put any money or consideration (and I could be wrong about that) into retaining the memory of the campus so that programs that have thrived throughout the years, that all the knowledge is not lost. That is some money, but it’s also consideration.They thought that by cutting down numbers of people by early retirement, it was a win-win situation. And in that respect, I see a void.
Q: Has anyone encouraged you to retire?
A: No, but retirement becomes encouraging, you may love your job, but the other thing is to watch a campus slip because of economics is a hard place to be. The thing is, can the knowledge be transitioned so that the University doesn’t waste its hours, time, and human resources in creating a wheel that was already built. Short-term cuts could be long-term costs.
Q: What’s your advice for students?
A: There are wonderful humanitarian programs that I found as a by-product of resources, I know students working at Peace Corps, and some students I know doing Teach for America. Another plus might be that more people may not be looking for huge financial rewards, as they will, in terms of enduring rewards of the careers that they pursue. Just think, when gifted lawyers are out of work, law firms aren’t hiring, so you’re not going to invest in law. Would you go back to an education and maybe serve and teach or help repair the structure of the American school system?
Q: What’s wrong with the American school system?
A: Textbooks are outdated and kids are not learning about the world today and the issues present in our day. Programs like Global Connect inform students that they are not just competing with Americans but with the world. When one pursues interests, one must perceive it in a way that is not only to the American society.
I interviewed Professor Julia Lupton, director of the Humanities Core program at UCI. It is an eight-unit course that fulfills requirements in first year writing and humanities breadth in one integrated course. She sat with me to discuss how and the extent to which the California budget crisis affected this program
Q: What is the Humanities Core Course and what does it accomplish?
A: It’s an integrated approach to general education, humanities, and lower division writing. We read major works of literature and philosophy, listen to music, look at art, and at the end of the spring quarter, a research project is due.
Q: How badly has the state’s budget cuts affected the program?
A: Very badly. We gave to deal with layoffs, fewer services, fewer staff and bigger classes. It’s harder to get things done, especially because there’s a non-reappointment of lecturers and fewer lectures, there are also fewer sections. Discussions went from twenty-two to twenty-three students per lecture. These cuts are doing nothing that would destroy the program, but it does have a negative impact. For example, we had to tweak the curriculum to accommodate the students. Last year, there were three papers assigned per quarter. This year it’s two papers, granted the papers are longer.
Q: Could you expand on what you mean by it’s harder to get things done?
A: As staff layoffs and furloughs for staff kick in, it will be harder to keep our offices open for the full business day, harder to keep computers and networks operative, and difficult to keep up with our assessment projects, which help us determine how effective our teaching is.
Q: Do you feel other departments, such as the science department, are given priority over the Humanities when it comes to the budget?
A: we definitely got hit harder than other departments. The humanities rely on the state completely for funding, whereas science departments receive grants and have other sources as well. It’s a different kind of research, so it would be as if I would be being paid to research Shakespeare. That’s why it’s so difficult to find other sources to fund the humanities.
Q: Where were you when you found that your department would be cut?
A: the cuts have been happening for over a year. I was expecting it; the state always cuts education during trying times so I knew it was a matter of time. I wouldn’t be surprised if the administration hasn’t timed the concessions. It was just anticipated.
Q: What do you mean you wouldn’t be surprised if the administration hasn’t timed the concessions?
A: By telling us in pieces (furloughs for faculty; cuts to staff; changes to the funding for graduate education and to general education), the administration makes the cuts more palatable. We accept one thing, and then another, and then another. My guess is that the furloughs will lasttwo years -- but we are not being told that.
Q: what did you think of the furloughs?
A: When I heard there would be furloughs, I was relieved because I wanted the university to keep going. I thought “that’s great, what a relief.” Then you hear the bad news, you hear about the layoffs and people not coming back to work.
Q: why did you think furloughs would be good at first?
A: I want to do my share. People are being laid off all over the state.
Q: Did you participate in the walkout?
A: No but I went to the rally. It was the first day of school and I didn’t want the freshman to be confused On their first day of classes. Imagine to walk into class only to walkout! No, I didn’t walk out but I told the instructors to talk about it and address the situation.
Q: Have you considered organizing your own protest to combat the cuts to your program?
A: I’ve written to my state representative and the governor. I’ve been telling my students to do the same. It’s sad when you see seniors can’t get into the classes they need to graduate. I think the students are the main people affected. I’ve been telling my neighbors to write. I think it’s also in the numbers; if the state is flooded with the real cost of these cuts maybe it will affect how they vote on funding for the UC’s. The state is a mess. We’re stuck.
Q: Did you get a response for your complaints?
A: yes, I got an automatic reply.
Q: What’s the one thing that worries you most about these cuts?
A: it’s the fear that it won’t bounce back. I’ve been here for twenty years, I love the atmosphere, and it has a very upbeat spirit. I’m worried I’ve seen the best, that the best is behind us. It’s the legacy I’m worried about. What worries me is what kind of school will we be in ten years? There’s nothing to gain from any of this. The students are getting screwed; it has potential to damage the reputation of excellence. California schools are especially hit because higher performing faculty may leave because other states want to take them away. You lose your colleagues… I think we’re taking a big cut and not replacing faculty. It could be hard to recover from that.
Q: Can you tell me more about losing faculty to other universities? Can you give an example of one such instance? I don't know if anyone has left yet, but many of us are much more open now than we were last year to the idea of employment elsewhere. It's not about the furloughs. It's about what kind of university this will be five years from now, or ten years from now. Will we still be granting Ph.D.s? In how many humanistic disciplines? To what quality of students? Will we still be delivering an excellent education to our GE students? To our majors? Will we still be rewarded for research? These are all serious questions. I am guessing that I am not the only faculty member asking them.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Film and Media Studies Professor: "The notion of civic participation without education is spurious."
Catherine Liu, a professor in her fifth year at UCI, sat down and spoke with me about the effects of the budgets cuts for herself, the School of Humanities, and other parties. She is the Director of the Humanities Center and the Film and Media Studies program. During the protests on the 24th of September, she gave a speech that tugged at the hearts of faculty, staff, and students.
Q: How have you been effected by the budget cuts?
A: Well, as the director of Humanities Center it’s been really hard for us to plan any events because we haven’t gotten our budget yet. I think there is a lot of disarray and confusion about what actually has to be cut. Personally, as a researcher—the library time, the library access, the slow delivery of all different things. This is bad for me as a teacher too because I send my students to the library and they can’t get in before ten and they close at eight. It’s also psychological, I think. It’s demoralizing because we got a seven percent pay cut and the people who are not making at the top bracket—the ones straight in the middle—my husband and I both work here so we both took a pay cut. Right now I think I’m working more than I ever have.
Q: What was your budget in previous years?
A: Hard numbers: we have seen a ten percent cut. Our budget was never that big. It was $83,000 a year. Most of that we gave away as Grants. $53,000 came from UCOP and we administered its distribution. The part that’s still coming from the School of Humanities even hasn’t been determined yet. Other departments and other schools have the possibility of doing outside fundraising or grants. I started to do that and I’ve been doing it, but it’s very hard because there is just less money in Humanities to go around. Concretely, we moved into [Humanities Gateway] and we didn’t have any furniture. At every single level it’s like looking towards the future—the day-to-day operations of being a professor or running a center. Luckily I have a really great department and we are very functional. We have the sense of mission.
Q: What are your hopes for the future of California’s education?
A: I think that there should be a massive reevaluation of public priorities and a massive evaluation of school funding for CSU's and K-12. I think that we should repeal prop 13-that's the really unpopular position. It's really horrific that it's on the books. In New York state, My parents pay over $10,000 in property taxes a year-they live in a very wealthy suburb. We live in a wealthy suburb too in California -we pay $2,300 in real estate taxes a year. K-12 education is deeply affected by local real estate taxes. I went to great public schools in New York. I think California was as good or better than any state In terms of public education, but after Prop 13, the situation has steadily deteriorated. California has fallen to number 47 in the number of 19-year-olds in college. We're like the south, which has never been a region known for the value of public education.
Q: What were your initial fears and concerns when the budget cuts were being discussed?
A: That cuts would be miss implemented and mismanaged.
Q: How have you been seeing that so far?
A: It’s just happening so slowly that we don’t know what’s going to happen in the long run, but I think people are doing the best they can at every single level. I just think that there’s no way of getting around the pain of laying off staff.
Q: With the proposal to focus more on professional degrees, what are your fears for Humanities?
A: The two-tier degrees where they’re going to charge more for business and engineering and less for humanities? It’s creating a class system within the institution of hierarchy. Frankly, it’s really silly because at Irvine our School of Humanities is ranked higher than the school for
business and engineering. It doesn’t take that much money to raise your rankings. Humanities uses much less money to gain effect. I think it would be really ironic if we had that at Irvine. If they abandon it then it will be a terrible waste of investment for all those years that they have been building up the school.
Q: What are other faculty opinions? How are they being affected?
A: There seems to be two camps. There’s the camp that says we have to face this and take action and the camp that says we have to defend what we have. Either position is a difficult position right now. One seems to be concerned with preserving and one seems to be like, “O.K. well we have to face the situation and break everything down.” If you break everything down, it takes time to reconstruct what you've destroyed. You have to figure out what the best way of doing something is if you are going to reorganize.
Q: With rising tuition and thoughts of privatizing the UC what would you urge students to do?
A: There are immediate things, like direct action and protest. There’s a more long-term thing about educating yourself and educating your peers as deeply as possible in the history of this University, taxation, and becoming more committed to a long-term politics. Not just for this issue, but for the future. You are going to inherit this mess in some ways. The notion of civic participation without education is spurious. To deeply participate in democratic culture all the residents should know as much as possible. Everybody should know exactly what is at stake and what is going on. Students can create more coalitions and connections between campuses, student groups and unions, and faculty groups and students. This is not a bad opportunity. This is not terribly optimistic. When things are good the status just leaves everything it it’s place. Things are so shaken up we’re not sure what to expect next.
Additional Information (Updated 11/2/2009):
Q: Have their been any updates on the past month?
A: We’ve lost one full time staff member and we’re not getting her replaced. It’s bad because we’re in a department with many majors. I feel like everyday life is more stressful. It’s wearing on the everyday operation of our school. We’re still waiting for the official layoff of staff members. Originally it was going to be twenty-nine people, but now we think the layoff number is twenty and it can possibly be going down to nineteen.
Q: How will Film and Media Studies be affected?
A: Day to day life is difficult; making photocopies for classes, ordering books, course planning, processing of expenses and personnel actions are all creating a burden for our diminished staff. In Visual Studies, We’re going to do graduate admissions soon. Our department has 100 – 150 applicants for our PHD program. The UCI Department of Philosophy gets 200 applications a year for their Ph.D. program. That’s just two graduate programs in our school. You can’t have a research university without attractive graduate programs. If we lay off people at the projected scale, who is going to be processing applications? Staff is also important to institutional history. They are the backbone of an institution. Some of our most experience staff are retiring. We’re losing some of our most experienced administrative people.
Q: What is the Humanities Center?
A: The humanities center has supported interdisciplinary faculty and graduate student research. We give out money, run events, and we do public events. We just sponsored at talk by Gustavo Arellano, the OC Weekly writer and amateur historian of Orange County. We bring provide programming that brings in people from the community and present a public face for Humanities. Within the School, professors and graduate students present work in progress. We also discuss topical issues in the field. I have a 50% program administrator and we’ve have been able to do a lot with a very little budget. We still don’t have our budget from the School for ’09-’10, but we’re working on carry-forward. What will happen next year is up in the air. We have received grants as part of the UC wide Multi Campus Research Unit that is now managed by the UCHRI. (University of California Humanities Research Institute) This money used to come directly from from UCOP but this year the funding scheme was turned into a competition. Fortunately the Humanities Initiative was successful, but this entailed a lot more work and coordination across the ten UC campuses. I email solicitations almost every day for collaborations and requests for financial support fromfaculty planning talks, conferences, and other research programming that is vital to a vibrant School of Humanities. . It’s really hard for meto figure out what to say to them. We are going to run one grant cycle in January—we usually run two—but we’re short on staff and we have the reduction of the budget. We want to support research activities and preserve and nurture new initiatives I don’t have a lot of administrative support to do all this. The School needs a vibrant research atmosphere – that is what helps us retain the best faculty, attract the best graduate students.
Q: What resources are going to be changing?
A: We will have fewer dollars from the school. The program administrator of the Humanities Center, Maritess Santiago, will have to take a temporary layoff next year. She will have to miss eleven days of work with no pay. She is a UCI alum, an incredibly gifted person. Is this how we reward our best staff? All of these things are incredibly worrisome. Are we going to be starved like this in the long-term? We need to fight this. The better-educated students are the better they are able to make decisions and the better they are able to participate in a democracy. Students are curious, passionate, and generally engaged in the work of Humanities. That is a bright spot to me. In the classroom, students are always excited to be in Humanities courses; they discover a passion for their work. I don’t need administrative assessment tools to see the transformative experiences our students undergo in their years with us. The Humanities provide students with critical tools of engagement. Are we going to be able to continue to teach our students like this? Or are we going to have classrooms without professors? Professors are difficult to manage, they are a pesky lot to administrators. Sometimes, I think that if we don’t fight the budget cuts, the future UC is going to be a wasteland like dystopia – a world without workers – that is, you’ll come to UCI and there will be beautiful, empty buildings, skeletal overworked and terrified staff, invisible janitors and service workers and barely enough faculty to turn on the powerpoint presentations that will substitute for classes, and a lot of debt-ridden paying customers/students shuffling through to their four year degrees.
By Ahrash Rastegar
A third year English Major at, Brandon Kang, and Julian Lawrence, a second year Engineering Major at UCI both were on the collegiate swim team, until the program was cut. Both men express their disappointment in the team being cut, leaving them with not future in swimming. Their athletics careers were ruined because of the lack of cooperation on behalf of the UCI administration as well as a poor decision to cut the swim team during the summer.
How long have you been swimming?
A:I started swimming since I was eight years old. My dad was a major influence in my decision to swim competitively—he swam up until High School.
How many hours a day did you competitively swim before coming to UCI?
A: I swam for about 6 hours each day. It was intense, but average for people who took the sport seriously.
Was it a passion of yours?
A: Yea, I hated waking up in the morning but it was worth it. I felt satisfied after practice. I guess I am really competitive
How was swimming in high school?
A:It was harder that college. High school swimming was kind of a joke compared to college. But, my club team was better. When I swam club, I swam with club people who would kick my ass all the time.
Were you able to find balance between school and swimming?
A: Honestly, I did what I could to get back by academically. I really had no motivation to study; I was riding on the fact that swimming could get me into college (as he chuckles). Honestly, though, I was so tired after swimming, I couldn’t do jack shit.
What were your options for swimming in college?
A: I got an offer from the Navel academy, UCSB and UCI. The Navel Academy tuition was free, but I had no real interest in going there. UCSB did not offer me much of a scholarship, so that narrowed down my options to the UCI program. The UCI program basically, agreed to make my tuition free.
This year we still get scholarships. But after that it got terminated.
The swim team gets about 40-50 grand. The program gets about 350grand to run the entire thing. Yet they were asking for 2.2 million to run the program. Women’s swimming was to receive more.
The people who get scholarships are the best swimmers?
A: They are the swimmers who show the most potential. Most of them don’t live up to their potentials. Brandon was close to people who did not have scholarships.
It depends how fast you are coming out of high school.
Now that there is no program anymore, how do you feel?
A: Julian :It was a real blow to me. I was planning on working really hard this year. And like, Brandon and me we were really set on this year. We have would really good this year-as a team-because of the incoming freshmen. The coach said he would work for free. It would cost the school virtually nothing.
A: Brandon: Expenses for trips though would cost money.
A: Julian: They don’t even have to pay for trips. We would have to pay for our own trips
If costs nothing to run, then why did the school get rid of it?
A: We will work for free. They petition to save to UCI swim team and the effort to raise money to save it was not recognized by administration. Everything could have been free this year. But they didn’t want to go back on their decision.
How did you feel when you found the team was cut?
A:I was completely shocked. Last year, when they said scholarships weren’t being raised, I knew something was up, but I never really processed it. We even got the forms to sign up for one more year, so I assumed we would have the team for at least one more year. Then, the coach called us out of the blue during the summer and told us the program was cut. It was weird to hear we were cut. Other teams such as track and field, I don’t understand why they didn’t cut them instead. I don’t know why we’ve been cut. We won conference three years ago. We were finishing in the top 3. Our swim team was ranked 33rd. When I came in we were ranked 30th.
What do you think about it?
A: Everyone on the team has been swimming for his or her whole life. I started when I was 5. We spend this much time doing the sport and we reached college and we reach a division 1 team.
Usually, when they cut a team, they tell you during the year, so incoming freshmen have opportunity to switch schools. But they cut it during the summer. That gave freshmen one month to decide what they were going to do. We had people come from everywhere and even from abroad. Some people, who decided to come here now, are forced to stay.
Do you think the students will transfer?
A:My whole class is gone( Class of 2011). Some quit school. Some left. Some are going to JCs and swimming for club teams to stay in shape. Most of the swim team has given up and moved on unfortunately. And if they are swimming, it is just recreationally. One guy transferred to UCSD another to Washington State, so a couple of guys left.
Some of the girls have tried and are trying to transfer. They received verbal consent from another coach at UCD but switching during the year is very difficult.
Julian, since you are younger, would you consider switching?
A: HA no. They no have I have nothing to offer. Some students are just going to Division II schools. The senior guys just get completely screwed. They have nowhere to go. Now there are guys who are just self-motivated. There is no more swimming for them. Even if they transfer to another school, unless you are planning to stay a 5th or even 6th year they don’t have that much time left. So basically, this ended their career and forced them to move on with their lives. You can’t really turn pro with swimming, so there isn’t much of an option. College is pretty much the end of the road.
So why did you swim?
A:I wanted to be a big shot swimmer. But you eventually realize that its not your whole life. But, you stay motivated, and work on dropping a better time.
Was it a big blow to you when you found out?
A: I wasn’t surprised. I thought it was coming. My coach told the swimmers that more money was coming, especially for the students who had financial issues. Then the swim team was cut. Even our coach foreshadowed but didn’t actually imagine it happening. I think we are one of the few schools to cut during the summer time. That’s why it sucked so much for UCI. For a little while you enjoy not swimming. But then you realize apart of your life was missing. Now that it’s not there at all what do I do? Since, our sport brought in money for the school, there was no reason to keep us really. Even though, were NCAA it doesn’t matter. We didn’t bring in revenue. Unlike football it has so much merchandise and following it’s worth keeping. But no one goes to a swim meet. I guarantee you no one at this school some people want to take our petition even further than Yudoff. It’s a never-ending ladder. The active swimmers are still trying to save the swim team.
Additional Questioning, Brandon Kang, October 14, 2009
Since the swim team has been cut, what does your future hold for you and swimming?
A: Me and swimming have broken up sadly. It was a rough break up but in the end we just couldn't live with each other. No, but really now I just swim for fun and recreation. I can’t swim for a NCAA division I team anymore and I couldn’t transfer to another school because not only is that a huge headache but also my parents had wanted me to stay in southern California. I love swimming and its a great sport that I’ll always be somewhat involved with but as far as competing, it seems I am forced to hang up my goggles.
What are you doing and what is the swim team doing to bring the program back?
A: Personally I'm not doing much to get the program back although there are many people who are trying to raise enough money to bring the program back within the next few years--hopefully. There is the anteater swimming and diving foundation (website http://www.anteaterswimminganddivingfoundation.org/) and most of the information and news can be found there as far as bringing the program back to UCI.
Do you think other sports should have been cut instead?
A: This question id rather not answer, for it would be a bad reflection on some of the sports at UCI; I have the utmost respect for all athletes and teams but to answer frankly, yes I do feel as if there are other teams that could have been cut rather than swimming and diving, however; such a decision is left to the suits and higher-ups and my opinion is of course probably and in all likelihood, biased.
Are you trying to keep up with swimming? Are there any alternatives for you besides NCAA swimming? Or was the college your only outlet?
There are other ventures in swimming to pursue; a club team was very possible but many of my teammates share my view when saying that swimming NCAA division I is nothing like a simple club team. Not to disrespect any club swimmers or anyone else for that matter, but it’s just a different level and intensity of swimming. We wanted more; the challenge and ability to be a collegiate athlete. Swimming becomes your life in college...morning practice class afternoon practice maybe more class. There’s only so much time in the day and most of our time was dedicated to swimming and school. Without swimming many of us swimmers have found it difficult to plan out our days because we no longer have practice taking up most of our time. We actually have time to do other things now, which is nice of course, but at the same time gives us a feeling that something is missing. There’s no more structure or strict schedule running our entire day and no more having to show up at 6 in the morning to swim a couple thousand yards. There is always the possibility of swimming for a USS (United States Swimming) club team which most of the UCI swim team members had done before college. Some are doing that and others have followed in my footsteps and for the most part, have left swimming to nothing more than a mere hobby rather than a lifestyle.