Project Analysis

From February 27th to March 9th of this school year, undergraduate students have had the opportunity to participate in a referendum that would affect the entire population of students, faculty, and alumni at UCSD. The ICA, or the Intercollegiate Athletics, proposed a referendum earlier in the school year to allow UCSD’s sports teams to advance to Division 1 standing. The ICA’s proposed referendum would change the Student Activity Fee from $119.78 to $284.78, a $165 dollar increase per quarter. 29% of this increase, $47.85, would return to financial aid and would not affect those students who were already receiving aid. In the hopes of increasing student attendance at events, bigger alumni support, and general campus spirit, the referendum was most notably sported by UCSD athletics. Yet in the midst of budget cuts occurring in the University of California system, this referendum was met with a variety of opinions across the two week voting period.

Because of the highly polarizing views and general dialogue occurring on campus, we decided that the move to division 1 debate, would be an interesting topic for our final project. We could gauge the opinions of average students, politically-minded undergraduates, athletes, alumni, and faculty. There had already been words exchanged online between “pro” and “con” groups, so channeling it into a single space for open dialogue was the platform of our project. Using the popular site, WordPress.com, our group used the space to create open and candid conversations between students. Interested parties could post a thought, idea, or comment about a certain issue or article we posted. They could also reply to a fellow respondent’s comment and create an open debate.

We started this blog with the idea that we were going to describe some of the events occurring around campus, as well as recent articles posted about the activity fee. We utilized a number of social media outlets in order to maintain a large amount of readership. Posting a link to our site on both the “Pro” and “Con” websites, Facebook statuses, and common listservs, we were impressed with the amount of turnout we received. From the span of less than two weeks, our page was viewed over 726 times, with at least two comments everyday. We were able to reach a good number of students, by using our own facebook pages, talking with other campus organizations, and spreading the word about our blog to sports teams. Word spread fast around UCSD, and we got a large variety of comments from students.

The group dynamics in our network were more difficult to analyze because many comments were spread out on different posts, rather than people commenting back and forth to each other on one post.  However, our blog contained one post that had four comments and three people engage in a small debate.  The debate was about whether UCSD would have a chance to move up to Division I again and when it would be.  One blogger stated that although it’s a lot of money to move up a division, it’s a good opportunity and that we don’t know when we will get the chance to move up and join the Big West again soon.  Another rebutted with the fact that the Big West hasn’t announced when they will stop letting teams in and that he is against the referendum because UCSD should find a more sustainable way to come up with the money to fund athletics in Division I, rather than receiving a big portion from the students.  Furthermore, the rebuttal was responded to with another point to add to the debate: whether there would be room in the Big West for UCSD in the future.  Three students engaged in their own debate based on the issues we posted on our blog.

We found that most activity in our network was from students.  One alumni from UCSD participated, while two other alumni from differing schools gave their opinions.  We found that the alumni from differing schools had a strong interest in sports.  One went to what he called a “sport obsessed school” while the other was a former swimmer at UC Davis that shared his experience when they moved up to Division I.  Most comments were opinions against the referendum because of the increase in student fees.  A few people noted that moving up to Division I wouldn’t benefit school culture and spirit for similar reasons including that some sport teams are doing well in Division II, but still only a few students attend those games.  For that reason she didn’t believe more people would attend the games because UCSD was in a different division.  Lastly, people commented to show that UCSD is a good, reputable school regardless of having sport teams, therefore they didn’t think that was a valid argument for UCSD to move up a division.   

If we had more time to work on our blog, we would create an archive and give more effort to publicizing our site.  Due to the shortness of the assignment, we had to rush to get the site online as well as to tell our peers about it.  The issue was already trending on campus as well as on other mediums such as Facebook, but poaching active participants for our blog turned out to be more difficult than anticipated.  As Facebook is a social media site that most college students already use, getting them to leave it would have required more time than we were allotted.  However, the debate is ongoing even though the recent referendum failed.  We could potentially make the site a resource for future debates and proposals.  To begin with, we would start to compile all of the links and publications about the most recent Division 1 debate.  We posted an article from a few years ago that had previously brought up the idea of UCSD moving to Division 1 status so it stands to reason that history will again repeat itself.  While the fervor has died down because of the end of elections, it might be renewed  quickly with more publicity and coverage.  It would be helpful for those who actively participated in championing or decrying the transition to have our blog as a resource as well as a forum.  As many of our commenters are politically active on campus, the blog will also serve as an archive of what they said.  If our blog were to serve these purposes because we were extending the project, it would be easier for us to join the debate at a more opportune time.  Due to our late start, we had to compete with more established forums.  With more time, we could create more of a sense of community on our blog and entice more comments by asking more specific and open-ended questions instead of merely reporting news about events.  Perhaps more publicity through non-digital means, such as chalk signs around campus, would make our blog more attractive and revive the issue.    

One of the biggest difficulties with this project was the lack of time we had to set up blogs.  We believe that our project topic was a strong one but the main issue was that we created our blog right at the climax and leading towards the resolution of the issue.  It is for this reason that we believe that our blog did not get the amount of attention it had the potential for.  Because this issue only lasted a certain amount of time, it was an issue limited by the restrictions of voting; starting this project earlier when the build up of the hype of the issue was occurring would have been ideal.  In this sense we would have gotten more attention from links on our Facebook pages and spreading the conversation around to the people we are linked to that belong to the UC system.  We, as a group, had agreed that with more time we would have been able to spread this issue not only to UCSD students but to students around all the UC’s to see if they have an opinion on the issue.  As mentioned earlier, we would hope that a sense of community on the blog would lead people to want to discuss the issue, yet with the time given we believe that we did well with the resources we had.

The types of participation we observed on our blog were across the board.  We all posted links to the blog on our Facebook accounts, so many people were able to access it and comment on whatever they wanted.  The original problem we predicted would happen was that not many people from our social networks would comment on it or even read it because if they were not UCSD students–as many of our friends aren’t– it was not an issue that they had even heard about, let alone cared about.  This gave us even more inspiration to post as many articles and polls from as many different sources as we could find in order to achieve mass appeal.  We were able to find some articles from the past that were based on the same topic as we were posting about and these postings we found received a lot of comments.  Since the articles we posted had a lot of opinions and a lot of research findings in them, it seemed that others had a lot to say about it as well and wanted to express their own opinions.  We posted a video from the “Vote YES” campaign and that generated a lot of talk and debate among our commenters.  In fact, the first comment on that post was a link to a “Vote NO” website.  On most of the comments, we were able to trace the sources back to contributors of blogs like the one we had created and contributors and supporters of both sides of the referendum campaign.  It seems that for the most part, specific groups were interested in public opinion revolving around the referendum and these groups are groups already involved with the referendum or student life as a whole at UCSD.  The most interesting contributions to our blog came from students at other UC schools who were expressing their opinions based on experience at their own Division 1 school and what effects came out of a move from Division 2 at their school and how it might affect UCSD.  These comments were useful and insightful and at the very least, gave us a different look at things that we otherwise wouldn’t have considered.

    All in all, our attempt at creating a network around the issue of the transition to Division 1 by UCSD was successful.  We inspired debate between the opposing sides and met our goal of creating a neutral ground for them to discuss their views.  While the time allotted was brief, we feel that our blog comprehensively included posts from each side.  The issue our network was based around is far from over and given a more lengthy window of opportunity, the blog might have grown as large as the more established groups on Facebook.  We found that our existing networks in social media and real life were able to supplement the creation of our new network. 

Kelsey Lim
Lauren Adams
Melissa Brown
Megan Natelson
Cristian Gutzeit

Do You Agree With What the Koala Has to Say?

http://thekoala.org/ucsd/ucsd-d1-sports-always-50-yards-away/

So that didn’t take very long did it? Jeremy Lin makes a splash in the NBA and the government says the economy is on the upswing and not only does UCSD think they can actually play sports, but that they can pay for it too. Well as the adage goes, “if you can’t bring the game, don’t bring the ball” and as we’ll show, UCSD definitely cannot bring the game.

To give you a basic impression of the kind of thinking underpinning the argument for D1, our friends at the Guardian had this to say:

“…We belong in D1 because our average SAT score is 170 points higher than the D1 average…”

By their (flawless) logic, the fucking Lakers should step down for King Triton and his big, swinging Verbal score. In the same issue where they say our FUCKING AWESOME athletes should be allowed to compete with the nation’s best, on p.11 is a little report about how our glorious Men’s Basketball team finished a “disappointing” season 11th out of 12 in their D2 section.

Yeah they have a point. Why should our valiant squad be limited to getting their faces kicked in by the mongrels in Division 2? Let’s put that better average vertical leap in D1 to good use, and let our boys get stomped all over the yard (at the low, low cost of 11.5 MILLION FUCKING DOLLARS).

While we’re on the subject, lets talk about money. The proposed bill calls for a piddly $495/year increase with an additional 3% increase to be added every year after for inflation (D1 sports is better funded than the fucking minimum wage, trufax). What could we do with the phenomenal amount of money it raises that’s not nearly as fucking retarded as funding a D1 program?

  • At $200/sqft, you could pave 2 miles of 6ft-wide sidewalk with crocodile skin. We could cover Library Walk and the other PRESTIGIOUS parts of our campus in the best couture money can buy.
  • You could pay for the phrase: “EAT A DICK, UCLA” to be sky-written over San Diego about 15 times a day for $11.5 million.
  • You could build a water-slide from the gliderport to Black’s beach with a return chair lift (hell, ticket sales could pay for it!*)
  • Want to actually get the apathetic masses interested in your stupid sport? Why not offer a little cash purse for every intramural sport, like say $10,000 a quarter per sport. We could build school spirit and support for athletics at a fraction of the cost of D1. For several racks, tell me you wouldn’t go shanghai some scrawny fucks in Geisel for your lacrosse team right now, I dare you.

And these are just the proposals we thought of that are slightly less retarded than D1 sports. Actual alternatives proposed by serious people (fuck them) range from paying for libraries to stay open to bolstering scholarship funds. But clearly those are way less important than making sure we get to pay for a handful of troglodytes to throw a pigskin around, right?

But shit, these are just the Koala’s zany ideas; what does the actual NCAA have to say on if D1 is a good idea? Essentially, not what the “pro” crowd has been feeding your complacent asses. From the organizations own 2010 Revenues/Expenses report:

  • Sport-for-sport expenses outweigh revenues across the board (p.36)
  • Women coaches are paid on average one-third what male coaches are (p.39/TAKE THAT TITLE IX!)
  • That D1 sports even without the hilarious waste of money that is football similarly hemorrhage money (p. 75) and….
  • That on average, student fees end up accounting for 42% of athletics dept. revenues (p.92).

But these are just numbers, and if you’re a supporter of D1 sports, there’s a pretty good chance those have never mattered to you. Let’s look at what actually happens at schools with D1 programs. UC Berkeley will serve as a good example, seeing as so many of you stupid fucks wanted to go there anyway.

Alex Saragoza, a longtime ethnic studies professor turned into systemwide athletics administrator, was suspended in 2000 after it became known that he’d retroactively enrolled 2 students in Spring 1999 courses (which they never took) and gave them C’s, just so that they could play football. The funniest thing is that suspending him from teaching his Chicano Studies classes didn’t accomplish much, because he taught those classes for free. It’s implausible that anyone could teach that particular course for free, unless of course he was paid $207,000 a year from the office of the UC President.

If we get a D1 program, maybe we too can get unapologetic grade inflation by some ethnic studies crank paid more than you can ever expect to make upon graduation from your hard science. I mean, it’s not like your degree is worth anything WITHOUT a D1 program, right? Shit, someday just maybe, we too can even have all our alumni ditch the school after our undergrads riot in defense of a child-rapist coach as our comrades at Penn State so artfully did. Because clearly, paying for tickets to watch our gladiators get slaughtered by some other school’s much bigger gladiators is the only prerequisite to a sane college experience. Or more likely it’s comprehensible to vote for a VOLUNTARY $495/year fee increase only when your mommy and daddy are footing the bill.

*Our opponents see no need to accurately represent costs or revenues, so why should we?

Lohith Ramanujam
Editor In Chief
The Motherfucking Koala

Editorial Board from UCSD’s newspaper, The Guardian, changes their position about the Division I referendum

Upon further reflection of the arguments presented for and against the Division-I referendum, the Editorial Board has decided to retract our November 2011 editorial in support of the referendum.

Keep the Change

 

There’s been a lot of talk about what’s “best” for UCSD and how athletics play into the future of our institution. We can divide the controversy into two different camps: those who believe in a near future for Division I sports and the benefits it could bring, and those who believe we have more immediate priorities.

We’re just a week into the special election that will determine which path the campus will take, and the divide rages on. Many are sticking to their guns (turning Facebook into a virtual war zone), while others — like this Editorial Board — are open to considering new arguments. Though we initially expressed hesitant support of the referendum in our November editorial, “D-I Athletics: A Lasting Investment,” with the knowledge gained through increased coverage of the issue, we’ve had a change of heart.

No one can deny the appeal of D-I athletics. With 29 national championships, UCSD has clearly outgrown its competitors in the D-II California College Athletic Association. Our men’s water polo and women’s soccer teams are some of the best in the division, and women’s basketball was ranked No. 1 in the nation until a heartbreaking loss on Friday.

We’ve also outgrown D-II academically. Since we moved to Division II in 2000, we’ve been the only UC school in the division (UC Santa Cruz competes in D-III, UC Merced competes in NAIA, UC San Francisco doesn’t have athletics at all and the rest compete in D-I), and our statistics don’t match with our competition, which consists mostly of Cal States. The average enrollment for CCAA colleges is 15,000 undergraduates, while we have nearly double that at 28,000. Academically, the average 75th percentile verbal SAT score for CCAA is 528 — UCSD’s is 660. For math the average is 542 — UCSD is again higher at 710.

We’ve made these arguments before. Comparisons to other D-II schools are borne out of a reasonable desire to compete with schools along the same level as UCSD, such as UC Davis. But in the wake of protests like those held on March 1, such comparisons seem irrelevant now. The connection between academics and athletics is tenuous at best — even if there are colleges with strong academics and strong athletics, the two aren’t required to correlate. Harvey Mudd and MIT, for example, compete in D-III, and no one is knocking their prestige. Meanwhile, many D-I schools are athletics powerhouses with horrible academics, such as Oklahoma State University and University of Arizona — schools we consistently dominate on rankings.

What’s worse, almost all D-I programs run at a deficit. In 2006, only 19 of 119 D-I programs in the country made money. Given the current budget crisis, now is clearly not the time to make such a giant financial gamble. Just this last fall, fees increased by 17.6 percent, and UCOP told the Regents that if the state didn’t provide more funding, fees would continue to rise by 16 percent annually. So with our fees rising relentlessly as it is, the additional $495 each undergraduate would pay annually could be another $495 many have to take out in loans.

D-I could bring great things to UCSD — but, for lack of a better punch line, not now. And many of the “great things” outlined by the pro campaign — increased school spirit and university recognition — are intangible; you can’t measure “spirit,” so it’d be impossible to quantify the differences the move could make to the daily life of the average, non-athlete on campus, especially since the move would not include a football team and would not have us competing against Cal or UCLA. And though D-I proponents often point to the “Flutie effect” (as we did in our November editorial) — the assumption that athletic success leads to name recognition, prestige and spending — a 2004 study of nine D-I conferences found that the Flutie effect might not be statistically viable.

UCSD has no need to reinvent itself at this point anyway. People still want to come here despite it being known as an “academic” school (a record 75,987 students applied to UCSD in Fall 2011 — an overall increase of nearly 8 percent from the previous year), and we have a very long future ahead of us to reinvent ourselves later. “Not now” doesn’t mean “never.” It means “not when we’re in a deep, crippling financial crisis.”

The notion that our degrees are meaningless without a kickass basketball team — an idea supported by many on the pro side, including former A.S. president Utsav Gupta — is completely ridiculous. Just last month, UCSD was ranked eighth for salary earning potential in the 2011-12 PayScale study measuring top state schools across the nation. Executive director of UC San Diego Alumni Affairs Armin Afsahi told UCSD news that it’s our “prominent academic programs” that are preparing students to fulfill their career goals. While school spirit and athletic prestige are important, a guaranteed future without a hefty price tag during a recession is all most students really need.

“One of the greatest measures of a university is the quality of its graduates,” Afsahi said. “Our alumni are not only going on to achieve great success, they are also advancing their communities, creating jobs and building our economy.”
If that’s not something to have spirit about, we don’t know what is.

While this Editorial Board will be voting “No,” we encourage students to make up their own minds about where their priorities lie and vote in the special election on Triton Link. Tell your friends to vote. It’s crucial that this significant decision is made by the majority of the student body, and not just by the majority of the people who voted.

“29 percent of the funds will go to financial aid for needy students”

Jump in Athletics Fee Paves Way for Brighter Future for UCSD Sports Programs

Ioana Patringenaru | February 12, 2007

Teams will travel out of state more often. Coaches’ salaries will increase. All athletes will receive $500 scholarships.

Lauren Woods (Photo / Jimmy Gekas)

These are some of the payoffs from a hike in athletic fees approved by students during an Associated Student election held Jan. 29 to Feb. 2. A record number of UCSD students voted to raise their athletic fees from $95 to $329 per year. The campus’ sports programs are poised to the reap benefits starting this fall. Proponents of the fee increase predict that better athletic programs will lead to more student pride and a better campus climate.

Almost 42 percent of undergraduates turned out to vote on the athletics referendum. That’s an all-time record for Associated Students elections, said A.S. President Harry Khanna. In all, 55.6 percent of voters approved the fee hike.

“I think I’m excited,” Khanna said. “I think we’re all excited.”

The fee increase didn’t face organized opposition, though some argued that it would harm access and affordability, the A.S. president added. He pointed out that 29 percent of the funds will go to financial aid for needy students, to offset additional costs.

The results of the vote sparked quite a bit of excitement among students and coaches.

“There’s no reason we can’t become the best Division II athletics program now,” said baseball head coach Dan O’Brien.

“Student spirit and pride is really going to improve,” said Dan Noel, who runs track and field and chairs the Triton Athletes Council.

Athletes campaigned hard to pass the referendum, said baseball player David Tyler Morehead. “It’s a good sense of accomplishment,” he said.

UCSD Crew (Photo / UCSD)

By voting to assess a tax on themselves, students helped protect other services that come from registration fees, said Henry C. Powell, who chairs UCSD’s Academic Senate. “It was a manifestation of democratic action taken by students, of student self-government,” he said. “We all believe a healthy mind survives in a healthy body,” he added later.

The vote also means that UCSD will be able to comply this fall with an NCAA Division II requirement, mandating that all members provide at least $250,000 in athletic scholarships. The university received a waiver last year and will apply for one this year as well.

Meanwhile, the university’s athletics’ budget will double to $3.5 million a year.

“It puts the athletics program on the road to stability,” said Athletics Director Earl Edwards.

The new funds will bring about several changes, Edwards explained.

  • Teams will now have to raise fewer funds, he said. That was welcome news for Noel. Some students work for sports facilities or sell concert tickets to raise money to travel to competitions, he said. Others sweep the gym floor and maintain pools on campus, he added. They now will be able to cut back, he predicted. “To be able to focus on your sport and school, it really will make a difference,” Noel said.
  • Teams also will be able to travel out of state more often for competitions, Edwards said. That will be a plus for UCSD’s baseball team, said O’Brien. In a sport where polls play a major role, the Tritons need to play in other parts of the country to prove they’re a worthy post-season team, he said.
UCSD Fencing (Photo / UCSD)
  • Coaches also will get pay raises, another major improvement, Edwards said. Coaches at other universities can be paid twice as much as at UCSD, said Denny Harper, who coaches men’s waterpolo. His team often plays, and wins, against better-funded Division I powerhouses, including Stanford and UCLA. Harper has been with UCSD for 27 years, but he worries about the next generation of coaches. “UCSD has always been an attractive place to come coach and live,” he said. “We need to make sure that quality coaches that come here stay here.” The coaches deserve a pay raise that will make UCSD competitive with other universities, said Noel. “They are such a huge part of our program and our success,” he said.
  • All student athletes will receive $500 scholarships. Most students will probably use the money for tuition, books or rent, said Noel. “Even though it’s not a lot, every little bit helps,” he said.
  • The university also will be able to cover more equipment costs currently shouldered by athletes, Edwards said. Plans also are in the works to hire a business manager, an equipment manager and an additional trainer, he said. The athletics program also hopes to be able to better market and promote sports teams, Edwards said.

“This is a very significant change for the athletic program and the university,” Edwards said. “This will really elevate our status not only on campus, but within athletic community as a whole.”

Union Tribune: UCSD Planning to Move to Division 1 Sports

Original article posted at http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2011/mar/11/ucsd-wants-move-division-i-athletics/ by

Brent Schrotenboer.

UC San Diego already has built a reputation as one of the nation’s top schools for research, science and engineering.

After careful consideration — and a $28,000 report — UCSD officials now hope to reach the elite level in another big area of higher education: college athletics.

The UCSD student government passed a resolution this week supporting the school’s possible move to NCAA Division I, up from Division II, where the Tritons have competed since 2000.

UCSD will not add a football program, as had been considered. Instead, school officials said Friday they are advancing plans to place all of their 23 sports programs into NCAA Division I by 2013-14 at the earliest.

The student government said it would improve “the quality of campus life.”

“UCSD kind of has this tepid reputation of not having the best student life,” said Utsav Gupta, last year’s student government president. “We’re known primarily as an academic school, which is a great thing. Athletics can serve as a very strong rallying point. The students want it.”

The move is contingent on two big requirements:

–A student vote approving student fee increases. The money from such an increase would help fund nearly $5 million in upgrades for Division I scholarship requirements and additional staff.

–The Big West Conference must agree to add UCSD as a member. No other Division I conferences are plausible homes for UCSD because they wouldn’t fit the school’s academic and public profile, UCSD Athletic Director Earl Edwards said.

“The Big West Conference has a major interest in UCSD but timing is critical,” said a report compiled by a consultant hired by UCSD to examine the issue.

Big West officials didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.

If UCSD got the green light from the Big West by this fall, the school would hope to place the student referendum on the ballot during the 2011-12 school year. If it passes, the Tritons then could compete in Division I by 2013-14 and be eligible to play in the NCAA Division I postseason basketball tournament four years later.

Last year, UCSD hired a consultant for $28,000 to examine adding football and moving to Division I. The consultant’s report was released by the school Friday. It cited serious costs, facility and gender-equity issues that would stand in the way of UCSD adding a football team. For those reasons, the school is no longer considering football.

Instead, it hopes to land its sports in the Big West, whose members include several state schools and potential rivals, including UC Irvine, Long Beach State and UC Riverside.

“We play a lot of schools (in Division II) that most of the students at UCSD have never heard about,” Gupta said.

A possible stumbling block in UCSD’s hopes of joining the Big West is the recent addition of Hawaii’s non-football teams to that conference as a 10th member. It’s not yet clear if the Big West would want to expand again to 11 members with UCSD. If the Big West rejects UCSD, Edwards said the Tritons would stay in Division II and wait until the conference landscape changes.

“Unless we get into the Big West, we won’t be able to make the move to Division I,” Edwards said.

UCSD officials said the Western Athletic Conference wasn’t an option because that league didn’t fit its academic profile. They also said the West Coast Conference (home of USD) wouldn’t work because its membership consists of private, religious-based schools.

Edwards noted that the move to Division I was student-driven and would not involve additional state money at a time when UC schools are facing grave budget cuts. He said the school also would have to come up with a Division I application fee of $900,000 to $1.3 million.

“It’s the next step,” said Sarah McTigue, a junior soccer player. “We’ve been in Division II for a while now and have done really well. Obviously there’s more that we can achieve. There’s something more we can accomplish, and that’s where we’re trying to go.”

UCSD moved up to Division II from Division III in 2000. The Tritons did not offer athletic scholarships until 2007, when a student vote authorized the tripling of an annual student fee up to $329. The money helped fund $500 scholarships for 600 athletes.

UCSD’s current athletics budget is about $7 million, up from $3.5 million before that 2007 student fee increase. A move to Division I would require a budget of about $12 million, according to the report. That additional money would fund the Division I minimum scholarship requirements, which can include funding at least 50 percent of the maximum allowable grants in 14 sports.