UCDC On the Chopping Block

Last week, a large number of UCI students, like many others across the UC system, came out to protest massive cuts to public education and a tuition increase of 32 percent. With a projected $20 billion state budget deficit looming, there will undoubtedly be more massive cuts to the UC system, despite the fact that UCI and other UCs are already at the bare-bones minimum to provide a decent, UC-standard college education. Proposed cuts include those to the highly-regarded UCDC program.

A little bit of background: the UCDC program was developed at UCI in 1982. It was developed as a program to help UCI students spend a quarter interning in our nation’s capital. It has grown to be one of the most successful programs in the UC system. It even has its own building conveniently located in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of DC. Those who get into the program, after a very competitive application process, enjoy the benefits of living at the UCDC center, learning from prestigious faculty members and meeting members of Congress while also gaining valuable work experience as an intern. The program is so great that staff and students at other universities covet it.

However, budget considerations are making it a real possibility that our UCDC program will just be a remnant of its current self. As reported in the “New University” last week and UC Berkeley’s “Daily Californian” in the fall, UCDC faces some potentially sweeping changes, including a cut of faculty and staff at UCDC, that would alter the experience. Costs would also increase, meaning more students may be priced out of UCDC. Additionally, unverified rumors claim that those in power may rent more space in the UCDC building to other universities, cutting the number of available spots for UC students in the program.

We have already seen other successful UCI programs cut in the past year, including the Student Academic Advancement Services (SAAS) program that helped at-risk students stay at UCI to continue their education. The next fiscal year promises to bring more cuts and pain; this is the reason why many of us protested last week. As noted, these cuts may impact more lauded UCI programs, such as the UCDC program and its sister program, SIP (which is already pretty bare bones).

It’s time for UCI students to stand up against these budget cuts, especially as they threaten to negatively affect many of the great programs at UCI. It’s time for UCI students, and students across the UC system, to continue applying pressure on Sharon Salinger, UCI Dean of Undergraduate Education, Mark Yudof, and the rest of the UC Office of the President, and tell them that cutting good programs is unacceptable, especially when they refuse to cut their own salaries. Last week should not be the end or culmination of these efforts; it should just be the beginning.

Jon Wong is a UCI alumnus, graduating from UCI in June 2009. He can be reached at jonwong87@gmail.com