Over the past five weeks, UC Davis has held four athletics town hall meetings to discuss the hiring of a new athletic director (AD). These gatherings were organized with the goal of allowing concerned parties to voice their opinions over the Dempsey Report, which proposed, among other things, cutting as many as five sports.
The idea was for the Athletics Advisory Committee — the group charged with advising Chancellor Katehi in her search for a new AD — to gain a better understanding of what the university wanted out of its athletic department.
Over the course of the town hall meetings, however, many of the committee members failed to attend. At the final gathering on Nov. 16, only seven of the 16 committee members were present, with several of them leaving before the meeting finished.
It is understandable that gathering a group of 16, made up of faculty, students and alumni, at the same place at the same time is a difficult task. However, such a low turnout sends the wrong message to those concerned with the future of UC Davis athletics.
Not having a majority of the committee present perpetuates the already prevalent mindset that the university predetermined which direction it wanted to go before it even scheduled the town hall meetings. Furthermore it lends support to the notion that the town hall meetings are being held simply to allow frustrated parties to blow off steam, with the hope of lightening the backlash against the university if it ultimately chooses to cut sports.
If UC Davis is truly interested in having input from outside sources, it should have ensured that at least a majority of the committee members attended every meeting.
With this in mind, we call on the university to hold another town hall meeting, with the full committee present so that the opinions of those concerned can be heard by the all of the group’s members — not just a small portion.