Alec Weisman, Editor-in-Chief
Four libraries are scheduled to close by the end of the 2010-2011 academic year. Budget cuts are blamed for the shortfall in money to operate the libraries, and soon the IR/PS Library and CLICS will be closing their doors for the last time in most UCSD students’ academic career. Over the last 3 years, the UCSD libraries have had to adjust to cuts of upwards of $5 million dollars. Of this amount, $4.8 million has been cut from services and operations. This is primarily comprised of eliminating 38 positions (out of 306) and keeping 42 positions vacant (out of 284). By cutting additional positions and closing the libraries they will save $345,000 from the closure of IR/PS, $450,000 from the closure of CLICS, and $645,000 from the closure of the Medical Center Library, Science and Engineering Library, and the Scripps Library. In addition, $600,000 will come from eliminating 10 vacant positions. Looking at the numbers, the library staff was grossly exaggerated in size and composed of a very large bureaucracy. According to an Associated Students presentation on the UCSD libraries, 55% of the libraries budget goes to compensation for staff. Only now that the UCSD libraries can do nothing else are they finally forced to confront their leviathan size and begin downsizing. In addition, these cuts are only the beginning, according to head librarian Brian Schottlaender. But why is it that the libraries have to be the first to go? Why is it that the funds could not be taken from somewhere else within the UCSD administration first?
In fact, these cuts could easily be taken from other sources. The campus core budget is approximately $635 million, while the department of Academic Affairs core budget rests at approximately $255 million. In contrast, the entire core budget for the UCSD libraries rests at around $25 million. The campus core budget is facing cuts of nearly 10%, nearly $63.5 million. Therefore, logically the libraries should be facing either a total cut of 10% or the academic affairs and libraries face those 10% cuts together, which regardless amounts to between $2.3 and $2.5 million in required cuts for the libraries rather than $5 to $6 million dollar cuts. Yet the decision of where to make cuts comes directly from the UCSD administration. Who does the administration look out for? Themselves.
Our administrators do not have a “right” to a job, especially when that job is provided by taxpayer dollars. Administrators (both executives and middle managers) within the UC System have spiked since 2000, increasing by nearly 200%. Salaries and benefits of administrators have jumped as a result, comprising most of the UC financial crisis in the process. At the same time, faculty salaries have declined and services provided in the UC system have continued to face the brunt of the budget cuts. Administrators want to keep their benefits and refuse to sacrifice their salaries during these economic times. It is in their interests to continue to serve as looters taking money from taxpayer dollars. If UCSD were a private institution our administrators would be within their rights to continue to maintain their benefits and their private salaries. Yet this is not the case in the UC system. Although UC executives claim to be underpaid in relation to their private university colleagues, they do not face the same rigorous oversight as their private counterparts. As the UC system serves as a mechanism of a bureaucratic governmental body, these employees should be fired as a drain on the system and face consolidated and reduced fees during this time of fiscal crisis. If the job of an administrator needs to be cut to save money for the university, or if added work needs to be assigned to that role, then these administrators must face reality.
So who should go? What offices should be downsized and what administrators should be sent on their way to find another job? Several UCSD administrators have already threatened to sue the school to obtain additional benefits, so why not start with them. The revenue generated from their salaries could easily keep several of the libraries open. Two of the complainants, David Brenner, the Vice Chancellor of Health Sciences makes $755,897 per year, and Tom Jackiewicz, the Associate Vice Chancellor of Health Sciences makes $600,000 per year. These “salaries” could easily fund two UCSD libraries. In addition, Gary Matthews, the Vice Chancellor for Resource Management and Planning (the same guy who decides when and how to replace parking lots with construction projects), makes $226,611 per year, also is one of the primary complainants. Eliminate or reduce these three positions for administrators who seek to be an added drain on the taxpayer and you have over $1.5 million to reallocate for the university. This is one hypothetical scenario, as these three positions do play an important role in the university.
On the other hand, the UCSD unions produce additional problems for the budget crisis. These public employee unions serve as a drain on the system whereby they fight to steal additional revenue and salaries from the taxpayer, and the university goes along with this charade. But don’t look to the AS to solve the problems, as they primarily act as crybabies and a shill for the administration.
Alec is a senior in Revelle College majoring in ecology, behavior, and evolution.