ASUCD President Rebecca Sterling recently vetoed Senate Resolution 2, which called for increased transparency and greater student influence in regard to decisions concerning the UC Davis Department of Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA).
Former senators Patrick Sheehan and Justin Goss authored the resolution. Sheehan said he wanted students to have a well-established, formal space to publicly air concerns about the program’s direction. Students currently contribute roughly $18,000,000 to ICA — 75 percent of the program’s total budget.
“Students should be given a reliable medium to learn about the major decisions facing the ICA program and be able to comment on them before they’ve been made,” Sheehan said.
The resolution passed with a vote of 10-1-1 on Nov. 15. Sterling’s veto was upheld with a vote of 6-5-1 on Jan. 10.
Paul Medved, a UC Davis alumnus who graduated with a bachelor’s in civil engineering in 1978 has been vocal on the Senate floor about his support of the resolution.
“That any elected representative of the students should decide that less transparency is better than more would be difficult for me to understand. That an ASUCD president should unilaterally reach such a conclusion in this case, in opposition to the will of the student Senate, is even more difficult to understand,” Medved said.
Medved said that, because student contributions provide such a large sum to the funding to the ICA, students should have knowledge about and influence on inner workings of the program.
Due to campus-wide budget cuts, four sports — women’s rowing, men’s wrestling, men’s swimming and diving and men’s track and field — were discontinued in April of 2010. The act was to save $2.4 million, with ICA to absorb $400,000 in operational cuts. Instead, ICA administration expenditures increased by approximately $200,000, the resolution stated.
Sterling said there were parts of the resolution that she did agree with.
“Students have a high level of investment in the UC Davis Athletics Department, so we do deserve a high level of involvement and access to decision making. A resolution stating that would have very much been appropriate to me, but this resolution had statements that were inappropriate and unproductive,” she said.
According to Sterling, the lack of student athletes involved in the creation of the resolution was another primary reason for her veto.
“There should be involvement from student athletes who are often the most informed about the effects of policy decisions on the department,” she said.
To this point, Sheehan argues that the resolution would not change how the ICA program interacts with athletes.
“I don’t think many athletes would protest being given more control over their own outcomes. And while my stint throwing Javelin on the Track and Field team was brief, I think I have a good understanding of what it means to be an athlete and what athletes care about: ‘Don’t cut funding for my sport,’” Sheehan said.
Sterling states that, while she disagreed with the resolution, there are still improvements to be made to the ICA program.
“The Intercollegiate Athletics department must pursue feasible and long-term solutions to its challenges, many of which are budgetary, and I would argue that since Athletic Director Terry Tumey’s appointment this summer, they have been taking positive steps in this direction,” she said. “UC Davis ICA faces many unique challenges, so in order to keep to the Davis way and have a successful department it will take continuous and strategic re-evaluation.”
In a final summary of his points, Sheehan lays out his own hopes for the future of ICA.
“This is what I want for the ICA program: I want them to be upfront with students in a formal space, tell us what they’ve got planned for the future and then take our input to heart,” he said.
ASUCD Senator Kabir Kapur is expected to introduce a modified version of the resolution to ASUCD Senate this quarter.
JESSICA GRILLI can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.