Expanding on news the Daily Cal first reported last month, the San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News both explored UC Berkeley’s decision to help its athletic department pay off the Memorial Stadium debt. According to the Chronicle, the funding “is not expected to come from students’ tuition dollars or taxpayer-supplied state money,” however, “campus officials would not rule out the possibility that some of the money could be diverted from academic programs.” A campus spokesperson said Chancellor Carol Christ plans to work out the funding source “in partnership with the Academic Senate.”
The deal reportedly comes with strings. While the troubled athletics department could reap an extra $200 million from the campus over the coming decades, it may be forced to embrace a balanced budget by 2020. Further, it may have to hand over Edwards Stadium, which Christ told the Chronicle could be converted into an arts center, housing, classrooms or another “use that raises money and addresses campus needs.”
In other financial news, the Daily Cal reported that the campus cut its deficit in half from FY 2016 to FY 2017, with the total falling from $150 million to $77 million (of course, those numbers exclude the athletic department’s debt, which stands at over $400 million). By June 2018, the campus plans to have the deficit reduced to $56 million, which Christ said will be achieved through generating new revenue.
In other news, a report from the Public Policy Institute of California found that a majority of Californians believe affordability to be a problem for the state’s higher ed system, but only 18 percent are concerned with quality.
In free speech news, a student op-ed from UC Santa Barbara elicited criticism from the old-guard conservative magazine National Review. Meanwhile, there are concerns that a free speech policy at UNC backed by conservative political groups could actually limit the speech rights of student protestors. And at Cal Poly, an action and counter-action between students on opposite sides of the political divide raised questions about protest, censorship and respect. Finally, The Washington Post reviewed a number of recent polls concerning public opinion on free speech. As it turns out, college campuses are not the only place where people express doubts about the First Amendment, as older people and Republicans seem to be the most critical of free speech, according to multiple surveys.
Berkeley’s Finances & Other News
11/3 – UC Berkeley to help athletics department pay debt on Memorial Stadium (SFChronicle): The article quotes Associate Professor Déborah Blocker as saying, “My concern is that we cannot afford this. We’d have to cut academic excellence, and we’d have to cut academic programs and research money. Basically, if we pay this debt, we’ll be left in a hundred years with nothing but a stadium and no university.”
11/2 – Big relief: Cal to move a portion of stadium debt off athletic department’s books (SJMN): In announcing her plan, Christ argued no other department has borne full responsibility for the costs of seismic retrofitting.
11/2 – UC Berkeley has cut deficit in half over 1 year, chancellor announces (DailyCal): The new revenue is intended to come from: “non-degree enrollment (such as UC Berkeley extension or summer sessions), self-supporting degree programs, increased contract and grant activity, increased entrepreneurial activity, monetization of real estate and philanthropy.”
11/1 – Study: PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and Higher Education (PPIC): Higher ed has strong bipartisan support, according to the study.
11/1 – Accel launches UC Berkeley mentorship program (TechCrunch): The venture fund has launched a mentoring program at Cal.
10/31 – UC Student Op-Ed: America Must ‘Reevaluate Free Speech’ (NationalReview): The student writer is worried that free speech will become a tool for illiberal movements and thus should be limited, while the conservative magazine’s writer contends the best way combat hateful speech is with more speech.
11/3 – “Free Speech” Policy Could “Chill” Protected Speech on UNC Campuses (Academe): UNC’s proposed rule, backed by the conservative Goldwater Institute (yes, it’s named after who you think it is named after), would punish those who impinge on another’s free speech, a provision which some scholars worry would itself limit speech.
11/3 – Free or hate speech? Cal Poly Republican wall sparks raucous conversation on campus (SLOTrib): The college’s “Free Speech Wall,” a participatory event put on by campus Republicans, evoked strong responses from left-leaning protestors.