by Sam Bartleman
Despite the suffering the student body faces every year due to budgetary cutbacks, many programs still skim outrageous amounts of money off the top while doing very little to enhance student life. One of the biggest offenders is SPACES, which, according to the budget the associated students passed for 2011-2012, had an allocated budget of $208,378 from student activity fees.
The director of SPACES made $35,527, and the assistant director made $35,364. The office fund manager salary was $9,387, and employee benefits totaled $32,914. Over $100,000 of the SPACES budget went into the pockets of administration rather than towards student life last year. With more student-run programs, these salaries could be nonexistent.
This year, the 2012-2013 budget encompasses $416,745, with the director receiving a $7,000 pay increase to $42,102, and includes several new positions for a new total of $275,484 going to overhead administrative costs. The co-editors-in-chief of SPACES’ newsletter The Collective Voice will take home paychecks upwards of $5,000 each for helping produce approximately three issues this year. Past articles such as “Discourse Analysis of an Image of Himba Women on the Travel Website Safari Drive” (volume five, issue one) remain largely unrelated to UCSD; the expensive newsletter as a whole is less of a “collective voice” and more of an “elitist bullshittery.” But this is just the tip of the SPACES iceberg.
Operating costs include $5,000 for office supplies – “Desk Supplies, Paper Cutter, Staples, etc.,” another $2,000 for “8 phone lines and phone bill,” and $7,000 for “staff retreats and training,” which is part of $16,000 going towards staff training and retention.
After the SPACES administration is well taken care of, ritzy office supplies purchased, and the staff takes several vacations on the students’ dollar, SPACES claims $77,430 of their $400,000 budget goes back towards students by way of student programs. This comprises 18% of SPACES’ total budget.
Programming events include the $16,800, two-night “overnight program” where 200 admitted high-school seniors get to stay on campus for free and take tours of the university. According to the SPACES website, the expensive program boasts several highlights including “eating in the dining halls and sleeping in on-campus residential halls” and “[participation] in social activities.” Obviously this is designed for most of the funding to go back into the pockets of administrators, since for $16,800 it’s reasonable to say that the event could be held in Las Vegas instead of a dorm.
While seventy percent of UCSD students have accepted some kind of financial aid or are financially struggling to make it through college (UCSD student profile 2011), it’s astounding how much money these programs blow through in only a few days. In fact, The Collective Voice alone spends more on just two editors’ salaries ($11,550 for the co-editors-in-chief) than all eleven student-run media orgs at UCSD will receive in fall quarter funding combined. ($10,883, Fall 2012.)
In troubling financial times, we have to re-prioritize the school’s budget. Are green initiatives really important when students are struggling to get into classes? Should SPACES be blowing through thousands of dollars on staff retreats when classes are struggling to hire TAs? By approving these outrageous expenditures and directing tuition cashflow away from students and back into UCSD’s coffers, it’s obvious AS only cares about trying to please the people who pay their salaries – the bloated upper administration.