Closing of UC Santa Cruz Department May Serve as Threatening Example for All UCs
by Rebecca Bachman


University of California budget cuts are detrimental to students up and down the coast, and though here at UCSB students are faced with the potential implementation of new fees, fewer classes, and lower admissions, we’re lucky not to be faced with the destruction of an entire unique department as students at UC Santa Cruz are. As the UCSC Community Studies department gears up for its 40th anniversary on April 25, the very real threat of elimination plagues the program, including the dismissal of its staff and dispersion of its programs throughout the campus.
Despite arguments for the program’s durability and positive role in the community, the Community Studies department and building face destruction, and will tentatively be replaced with a new Engineering building. Supporters of the program, however, hope that UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal and his colleagues will recognize the importance of such a department and find less detrimental, more effective ways to redistribute budgets. For 40 years, UCSC has been home to this distinct Community Studies undergraduate program, which connects students with under-served communities to implement small-scale but undeniably positive results not only in the area, but also nationally and globally.
Situated comfortably within the lush landscape of the Santa Cruz campus, Community Studies has seen a recent increase in popularity with 140 current majors, but the implications of its destruction would reach far beyond the students themselves. According to the faculty and staff of the department, each year over 100 students are sent to perform more than 90,000 hours of work with community organizations and social justice movements. The department is depended upon locally, regionally, and nationally as a vital source of both labor and ideas for projects, planning, and service delivery. Some alumni have taken even further action using experience gained from the program, forming and leading various non-profit organizations. As pointed out by program supporters, the United States has desperate need for the sort of work associated with the Community Studies department; work that is adamantly encouraged by our new president.
The faculty and staff of the Community Studies department urge proactively minded students to write even the shortest of letters or emails to protest the proposed dismantling of the program. Please take a moment and send a letter or an email to George Blumenthal, UCSC Chancellor, David S. Kliger, Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor, and Sheldon Kamieniecki, Dean of Social Sciences, Social Sciences Division. Contact information can be found at UCSC’s website.