UC Santa Barbara students must now vote on measures, fees and referendums in the upcoming elections week. With the university’s increasingly tight budget, students are forced to be more selective when voting about how their money should be allocated. One controversial referendum is known as “D.A.R.E.,” which stands for Developing Athletics Resource for Facility Enhancements.
The UCSB athletic department is making an effort to revamp the campus and athletic facilities in order to host more events, increase fan attendance and promote the athlete-recruitment process. One way to accomplish these goals is through facility enhancement, with the overarching objective of enticing better athletes to play at UCSB and generate more revenue in the long run.
“The referendum will benefit all sports teams in some way or another,” said student athlete representative Jessica Beristianos, a fourth-year Sociology major on the softball team. “The [referendum] will have one of the biggest impacts on the aquatic sports. Since UCSB’s pool is currently 70 years old and leaks millions of gallons of water [per year], the referendum will build a new aquatic center.”
But is there really an allure for exceptional student-athletes that comes with facility enhancement?
“With the advancement of our facilities, the athletic department will be able to increase the level of recruits as well as up the level of its competition. We already compete with the best teams out there, thus, the next step is to bring our facilities to that same level allowing us to bring in the best of the best to get us up to the top,” said Beristianos.
According to the numbers online, the D.A.R.E. fee will be $44.50 per quarter and will be collected for 30 years without reaffirmation. Of this amount, 25 percent ($11.13) will go back into financial aid. This extra $11.13 (approx. $585,000 a year under current enrollment figures) will benefit qualifying UCSB students with their financial needs.
Some students think this is too much money to spend on new facilities for just student athletes.
“I’m not going to vote for it because I feel like it doesn’t benefit regular students and it’s expensive. They say we can use it but I am skeptical about students having any sort of priority over the athletes,” said Daniel Garcia, a third-year Mathematics major. “I would rather vote for the Recreation Center initiative because it benefits more of the student population.”
UCSB’s Robertson Gymnasium, Harder Stadium and Campus Pool are over 50 years old and need renovation to keep up with environmental and safety standards.
“The track team is no longer allowed to hold competitions at their track because it is unsafe for all participants,” said Beristianos.
The referendum will rebuild Pauley Track and make it safe for competition once again. With Harder Stadium undergoing renovation for the College Cup, one of three of these old facilities is improved and the referendum and the Recreation Center Fee plan to improve the remaining two. The Rec Cen Fee will help replace the Rob Gym roof, which currently leaks every time it rains.
“It’s really the 450 student-athletes who want to get this done for today and the next generation of Gauchos,” says Mark Massari, the Athletic Director at UCSB. “Simply, if this doesn’t pass, you as alumni will come back to campus ten years from now and the Thunderdome will probably look exactly like it does today, probably even more run down.”
According to the Athletic Department website, the new athletics aquatics facility will save an estimated 420,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year compared to today’s Campus Pool and possibly a million gallons of water annually. The Thunderdome events center will also be included in the referendum, as maintenance fees are included.
This new aquatic center would be located where the outdoor basketball courts are now, next to the Intercollegiate Athletics building.
“From an environmental perspective, I support the referendum because the current facilities are causing more harm than good,” said Teal Riege, a fourth-year Ecology major and Co-Chair of the Environmental Affairs Board on campus. “Even though it’s a lot of money asked for from the students, the referendum will bring in better athletes and allow UCSB to host more events, thus eventually benefiting students and giving back to the school.”