Bren Board Frustrated With Athletics

In October 2004, management of the Bren Events Center was transferred from the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs to the Department of Athletics. This move was approved by a group composed of students and administrative staff known as the Bren Events Center Advisory Board. However, since this transfer, certain members of the board feel that the Department of Athletics has not put forth its best effort to accommodate other student groups and organizations who wish to use the Bren.
When the transfer initially took place, both the board and the athletics department were confident that the transfer in management would mean only good things for the student body, as the Bren would be under the control of the group that uses the facility the most.
This initial optimism has been replaced by a measure of tension between the advisory board and the Department of Athletics over questions and issues regarding the management of the facility.
When the board first approved the transfer of ownership of the Bren Events Center, it did so through the passage of four documents last October.
Three of these documents would, according to the board, allow for an updated approach to fee reimbursement for student groups who use the Bren and also outline which groups and departments on campus have priority to use the Bren. However, these documents have yet to be put into action because the Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Campus Recreation, Robert Chichester, has not yet signed them.
Representing Chichester and the athletics department on the board is Dave Leinen, UC Irvine’s associate athletics director. Leinen justifies Chichester’s delay by reminding critics that the Department of Athletics is an extremely busy one.
‘The busiest time of the year [resulting in a heavier workload for the Bren Center staff] here is starting in the spring,’ Leinen said. ‘The end of winter quarter-spring quarter basketball season is in full session. We’ve got a number of sports all going at the same time. It shouldn’t indicate that the documents weren’t important and that they were pushed off. It’s just a matter of how the work flows through.’
Leinen does not ignore the fact that there has been a delay in the signing of the documents, but insists that the Department of Athletics supports the efforts made by the board.
‘I do acknowledge there has been a delay in getting those documents through, but this does not indicate, from my perspective, that they are not supported,’ Leinen said.
However, some members of the board disagree. Ada Cheng, fourth-year neurobiology major and chair of the advisory board, is frustrated by the delay in the passage of the documents that the board views as vital to running the Bren smoothly as a student-used facility.
‘We have been waiting three to six months, which is a really long time and a relatively unheard-of way to run a facility, considering this board meets regularly and that in other campus boards, such as the Student Center and Anteater Recreation Center, the administration is a lot more responsive to changes and the current happenings of the board,’ Cheng said.
One point of contention between the board and the Department of Athletics is over the role of fee reimbursements and how, according to the board, that aspect of the unsigned documents has, and may, limit the use of the Bren by student groups. The amount of the fee in question is $1,250.
Cheng points out that the delay in fee reimbursement has already affected students and that the impact will be felt most during the spring quarter when many of the big student groups hold their annual events.
‘A prefect example is ‘The Vagina Monologues,” Cheng said. ‘The program already happened, they have already filed their rental-fee waiver application and now they just have to wait an indefinite amount of time to be paid back the [$1,250] rental fee.’
Rohmel Reynoso, a third-year studio art major and coordinator for Kababayan’s Pilipino Culture Night, vocalized some of these concerns.
‘For a student organization, that $1,250 is a lot of money to be raising. That is not money we can just throw away,’ Reynoso explained. ‘I’m just as concerned with costs for other student groups and events at the Bren as I am for Kababayan.’
Leinen expressed some disappointment upon hearing the opinion of Cheng and attempted to clarify some of the confusion and criticism surrounding the fee-waiver aspect of the documents.
‘When student groups ask for a contract to use the facility, we [Department of Athletics] supply that, and along with that we also supply them with a fee-waiver request. I’m not aware of any fee waiver that’s not been approved,’ Leinen said. ‘To be honest, reading through [the board’s recent news advisory] I was a little disappointed because my understanding is that there has been no change in policy or practice with how the Bren Center is being managed versus how it was a year ago when it was reporting to Student Affairs.’
Despite Leinen’s declarations of good intent, student board members like Raymond Giang, third-year international studies major and ASUCI vice president of administrative affairs, still feel that ‘the Bren board is sort of at a standstill since there has been no update on all the documents passed since the beginning of the year.’
However, recent events indicate that the miscommunication between the board and the Department of Athletics seems to be coming to an end. According to Leinen, Chichester is planning to attend the next board meeting in order to iron out any problems in the documents.