We are heading into the storm before the calm — that is, if summer spells calm for those whom finals is the last corner before they can get some well-deserved rest. For many, summer means more school; for others, in particular the quite spectacular class of 2013, summer means a new beginning away from the perfectly manicured confines of UC Irvine.
Before anyone moves ahead, however, it is our pleasure to remind the UCI community of the many events to reflect on from this past quarter. Some gave us reasons to celebrate; others reminded us that we have much to learn about each other and ourselves. In celebration or in retrospection, be prepared, fellow Anteaters, to move forward together.
To begin on a celebratory note: This year, we saw the men’s basketball and women’s tennis teams achieve a level of success they have never reached. Men’s volleyball reached the top of the hill for the fourth time in seven years with their second-straight coming this past May. #Eatersallin, indeed.
And just a reminder — no one has challenged our dodgeball record that we set back in September.
Politics is a bittersweet affair, but this year, we had more reason to enjoy the sweet. Only a couple of months ago, students voted to pass the initiatives to fund the Anteater Express and the campus newspaper. The SOAR Center did not receive the number of votes required, but the three initiatives drew attention to the needs of three important parts of campus — areas that affect students. It was students who made the decision to fund these, and it will be students who will be in charge of seeing these funds put to use.
Another flashback to earlier in the year — Anteaters joined other Americans in voting back in November, some of us for the first time in our lives. We saw volunteers out on Ring Road, every day reminding and encouraging their fellow students to register to vote, and we saw students follow through on Election Day. Even President Clinton himself came by to rally some support.
Governor Jerry Brown’s May revision to his state budget proposal provides some relief for higher education, in no small part to Proposition 30 (Remember that?). Still, the UC, like California, still has a long way to go in recovering what it has lost.
It won’t start with a new logo, or a campus climate survey, even if it is the most comprehensive of its kind. The blackface incident clearly showed that the university needs more than just money. It needs more discourse, more shared learning and awareness of whom with which we share the campus.
Christien Rodriguez’s death in March was a reminder to continue learning, sharing and loving. For many, he was a loved one and friend. For even more, he was a strong voice and advocate for the LGBT community, raising and reminding us of issues with which fellow Anteaters deal.
We saw further frustration and anger among UC medical center workers, who, after several failed contract negotiations with the UC, held strikes last week. Several faculty members and students also expressed their dissent with the hiring of Howard Gillman, who was appointed the new UCI Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor last month. And don’t forget about the faculty members in the School of Humanities who definitely had things to say about the hiring of Dean Georges Van Den Abbeele.
And one more thing — who else was expecting the projected $57 million deficit that the UC Student Health Insurance Program faces? Keep an eye on that — make sure that the people responsible are the ones who pay for that, not any constituents of the university.
There are so many problems, but there are so many brilliant individuals. Look to those around you and find solidarity with each other as Anteaters and diverse, unique beings. To our fellow students: declare what is yours and prepare to take on the responsibility of taking care of it.
Be loud, and be proud of what you have accomplished and what you were part of this past year. Be even louder and prouder of what is to come — namely, what you will make of the present and future as an Anteater at UCI. There is much work to be done, and many issues to be discussed, shared and solved — together.
May you be loud with each other, and be proud of each other.
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