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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

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As college students, we’re often forced to endure difficult situations that we would rather simply avoid, postpone or ignore.

We can all imagine how much easier our lives would be if turning our back on an especially rough midterm and running for the hills without consequence were considered a viable option. Unfortunately, our society has taught us the importance of personal accountability, and we know that such reckless inaction and negligence would be catastrophic when it came to impacting our public image.

While college students, office workers, politicians and just about anyone else are forced to endure these times of adversity with a stiff upper lip, it would appear that the UC Board of Regents are sometimes given a free pass when it comes to dealing with tough circumstances.

As many of you already know, a combination of fiscal irresponsibility and a genuine lack of knowledge when it comes to the everyday experiences of UC students has brought another fee increase to the system, this time totaling $662-per-year. In addition, the regents voted to hand out some exorbitant pay increases to the newly appointed chancellors at the UCSF and UC Davis campuses.

The fact that this mechanized form of highway robbery was scheduled to happen during a record-high budget shortfall basically ensured that the regents would encounter various forms of student resistance and public protests when they arrived for the three-day meeting originally scheduled to take place on the UC San Diego campus.

From the perspective of the regents, it looked as though making such a financially detrimental decision in the face of so much opposition would be an extremely trying task, one that no one on the board was looking forward to sitting down to do.

So, in typical regent fashion, rather than meet the trouble head-on while each sticking to their respective principles, the board did what it does best – find a way to avoid the issue and ignore the resistance.

That’s right, when it came time for the regents to arrive at UCSD and confront the droves of angry students, they were busy chatting away in their distant offices, completing the scheduled meeting via teleconference.

The justification for the regents backing out of their own meeting is almost as ridiculous as unnecessary taxes on students they planned to discuss there. Believe it or not, the explanation for suddenly scrapping the UCSD meetings was the growing threat of H1N1 virus. That’s right, the regents didn’t show because they were worried about the swine flu.

Richard Blum, who currently chairs the Board of Regents, explained the matter by stating,we do not divert the attention or resources of the campus as they work to keep the campus community safe and prevent any health issues related to the H1N1 flu.

Essentially, Blum was worried that the mere presence of the regents on campus would somehow impact the UC San Diego Medical Center’s efforts to curb the outbreak of swine flu in San Diego County. Never mind the fact that the UCSD Medical Center is over 10 miles away from the meeting’s on-campus location, or that the swine flu outbreak Blum was so afraid of consisted of only 11 people in a county of over 3 million.

Despite the absurdity of the Board’s excuses, the cancellation has gone almost unnoticed, or at least uncriticized, in the media. Meanwhile, the regents were able to cram the intended three days of business into one extended phone call without having to endure any of the negative attention from student and faculty protesters.

Slowly, it’s becoming clear that the lessons of accountability and consequences we learn as students have no place in the real world. If the UC Board of Regents have shown us anything over the last month, it’s that decision making can sometimes be hard, but turning your back on those you represent, well, that’s just plain easy.

 

JAMES NOONAN thinks that the regents disregard for the opinions, circumstances and needs of UC students is a far greater epidemic than the H1N1 virus, and that both of these things should have students feeling nauseous. Tell him how you’re feeling at jjnoonan@ucdavis.edu.

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