Budget Blogs Keep Tabs on UC Meltdown


Posted on 02 December 2009

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By Amy DePaul

Mainstream media have covered protests in response to the massive budget cuts  at the University of California, including the confrontation at UCLA when tuition was raised Nov. 19, but few reporters have the time or resources to delve deeply into the crisis of public higher education.

But where newspaper coverage is dying, blogs are blooming, helping fill the reporting gap on what the cuts mean for students, faculty, workers and administrators.

One notable blog is http://www.utotherescue.blogspot.com, a comprehensive blog maintained by UC Santa Barbara professor Christopher Newfield, author of Unmaking the Public University, Harvard University Press. Newfield’s theory, as captured in his book description is the following:

“Christopher Newfield argues that the financial and political crises of public universities are not the result of economic downturns or of ultimately valuable restructuring, but of a conservative campaign to end public education’s democratizing influence on American society. “

Newfield’s budget blog offers commentary but also news developments and links to a variety of UC activists.

Meanwhile, a former UC Berkeley professor, Charles Schwartz, maintains a website on which he posts on his own informed analyses of UC finances and demands greater accountability: http://universityprobe.org/

At UCI, a group of reporting students (disclosure, I am their instructor) have compiled a blog documenting the effects of the budget losses.

The entire blog can be read at http://www.ucibudget.blogspot.com.

Topics include:

- students in the arts and other hard-hit disciplines
http://ucibudget.blogspot.com/2009/11/3rd-music-major-alex-rosales-uci-will.html

- the five UCI sports team unceremoniously cut
http://ucibudget.blogspot.com/2009/11/frustrated-swimmers-continue-efforts-to.html

- struggling middle class students
http://ucibudget.blogspot.com/2009/10/unexpected-early-graduation.html

- financial aide
http://ucibudget.blogspot.com/2009/11/faq-trying-to-generate-funds-and.html

- admissions now that fewer students will be accepted
http://ucibudget.blogspot.com/2009/11/finding-open-road-to-higher-education.html

And finally, and not surprisingly, the university is blogging its own official version of budget-related events, at
http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/budget/.

The question remains whether well-informed citizen journalists, advocates and insiders can fill the gap left by emaciated traditional news organizations.

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Amy DePaul is a journalism instructor at the University of California, Irvine and California State University, Fullerton. She is a also an award-winning freelance writer and former newspaper reporter.

Thursday, November 12, 2009
3rd Year Music Major Alex Rosales; "UCI will lose its only bassoon major unless I receive more Financial Aid, and I feel guilty asking for more"

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing whatsoever against bassoons. But if UC Irvine actually HAS a Bassoon MAJOR, that raises a NUMBER of questions, including the following:

1. How many OTHER UC campuses have Bassoon majors?
2. How, in the current fiscal environment, can ANY public university justify even having a major that only has one (1) student matriculating?
3. Do we even NEED a Bassoon Major?
4. If we NEED a Bassoon major in the UC system, wouldn't it be a lot easier (or at least a smaller burden on the taxpayers) to relocate Mr. Rosales to some program where we might at least benefit from economies of scale?

We are cutting IHSS for thousands, and you are bitching that they are cutting sailing at UC Irvine?

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/sports_blog/2009/07/state-budget-cuts-st...

And the people in the sports are going to keep their scholarships, even though there is now no team?

Irvine will honor its scholarship commitments to student-athletes from the affected sports during the 2009-10 academic year, the school said.

Don't get me wrong, I FEEL YOUR PAIN.... Well maybe not, actually. But I can imagine myself feeling your lack of the salt spray in your face as you round the buoy for victory while the taxpayers subsidize your yachting hobby. Oh well, it must have been fun while it lasted.