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Opinion

Our Readers Write: UCSD expansion plans, thanks from a business, a poem for the COVID-19 times

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An artist’s rendering shows UC San Diego’s planned Future College Living & Learning Neighborhood.
(Courtesy)

This isn’t the time for UCSD to spend money on buildings

After reading the May 7 article in the Light titled “Pandemic costs UCSD $150 million; university plans to return to mostly in-person courses for fall,” I sent this letter to Chancellor Khosla:

Dear sir,

Thank you for the update on these extremely important issues for UCSD and our community.

This pandemic has turned our lives upside down; however, I believe that it will bring us many
benefits by creating amazing opportunities to make changes that otherwise would have taken years to effect. As a retired physician, I’m impressed with how the internet has allowed us to innovate in patient care and treatment in just the past few weeks.

The enormous loss of revenue will, and must, change where we choose to allocate our money for the next several years. Support for students and faculty, research and the health care mission should be the priority of UCSD. Money should be spent on adapting our ways of teaching and maintaining employee and faculty positions with their benefits rather than building projects at this time.

I believe that all building plans need to be put on hold and reassessed in light of what will undoubtedly be a major upheaval in how we teach and our students learn in the future.

UCSD employees and members of the surrounding communities will be appalled if they see their tax money being poured into buildings rather than supporting students and employees.

In view of the staggering loss of revenue in California, I strongly urge you to withdraw the plans for the Future College Living & Learning Neighborhood and carefully reconsider all other building projects.

Take a breath and use the enormous brainpower and enthusiasm of our university to observe, cogitate and then create innovative ways of learning, teaching and working in this new time.

Dr. Linda Olson
Professor emeritus of radiology

UCSD must focus on learning, not expansion

In their book entitled “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses,” esteemed professors Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa set out a robust, fact-laden analysis that proves in part that our university administrators favor distractions like socialization while placing learning at the bottom of the list.

UCSD’s expansion plan is a case in point. Unlike their health care system, which is a profit center, not Mother Teresa’s miracles, the expansion plan is unhealthy for students and residents alike.

The plan undermines education and weakens the foundation of our community. The plan includes five new buildings ranging in size from nine to 21 stories in the La Jolla Playhouse parking lot.

UCSD’s planning department knows this is bad for La Jolla. They continue to withhold critical information such as the impact of increased sewage, traffic, crime and noise pollution. UCSD’s own professors have criticized the plans as environmentally unsound and half-baked.

In a leaked memo dated May 7, UCSD Chancellor Khosla unwittingly admits that expansion is unnecessary. He praised UCSD’s COVID-19 social distancing response plan. Operationally, we addressed the need for social distancing by shifting to remote learning, decompressing on-campus student residences, adapting our extensive research enterprise and virtualizing as much of our administration as possible.

The speed and quality of these transitions has exceeded expectations. Indeed, professors at major universities across the U.S. will be teaching undergraduate courses online this year. Remote studies reduce student expenses, preserve our quality of life and promote learning. On-campus housing, shopping, administrative buildings and restaurants do not.

UCSD plans to spend billions of dollars erecting buildings that will be fully furnished to enhance spectacular ocean views. It is at odds with Chancellor Khosla’s call for fiscal responsibility. New restaurants, shopping, administrative offices with ocean views are anything but fiscally responsible, especially in light of UCSD’s successes with remote learning and administration. Nobody at UCSD has explained why the current campus is unsatisfactory.

In his memo, Chancellor Khosla writes, “I am grateful for the sacrifices that everyone is making every day.” He notes “unprecedented health care, operational and fiscal challenges” and that “UC San Diego has responded in extraordinary ways.”

He memorializes these words but also knows that UCSD is pushing their expansion plans to fast forward this year, not stopping in light of current events. While it is unfortunate that UCSD has valued fun and lifestyle over education, it is worse how UCSD administrators have treated our residents. Residents have been requesting updated environmental impact statements, studies regarding traffic flow, information regarding the maximum capacity of the buildings, the total square footage, plans for additional on-campus parking, to name a few. To date, what our residents receive are opinions untethered from fact.

UCSD is striving to be an overpriced, underachieving institute that is more focused on profit and student lifestyle than education or the community.

Unless Chancellor Khosla lives up to the words set out in his memo, our residents and UCSD’s students will pay a hefty price long after the administrators in charge receive their promotions, bonuses and better-paying jobs that accompany excessive government spending.

N. Thane Bauz

Help for a struggling business

I thought I would write a positive comment.

My husband and I have had our business closed since March 18. After applying for many small-business disaster loans, we did not receive a call from anyone. After filling out forms with the city loan program, once again no response.

I left a message for [District 1 City Council member] Barbara Bry. To my surprise, I received a call from Steve Hadley. He is the head of community relations for this area. He was kind, sympathetic and took the time to help me with our situation.

I want to thank you, Steve Hadley and Barbara Bry. I want to tell you that you have been my ray of hope and the silver lining I needed.

Karen Marshall

A poem for ‘In the Time of Corona’

Sitting

Before the screen

Eyes darting

“COVID-19 symptoms”

“Dogs now used to sniff out COVID-19 virus in humans”

Advice from chefs

Fables and follies from Trump

Up

At the window

A purple morning glory

Returns my gaze

With a message

“Come outside.”

Susie Parker

What’s on YOUR mind?

Letters published in the La Jolla Light express views from readers about community matters. Submissions of related photos also are welcome. Letters reflect the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of the newspaper staff or publisher. To share your thoughts in this public forum, email them with your name and city of residence to robert.vardon@lajollalight.com.


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