Using academic funding to pay stadium debt detracts from students’ academic experiences

letter to the editor
Willow Yang/File

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I am angry and horrified to hear that UC Berkeley is planning to use academic-designated funds to pay down the Memorial Stadium debt. I’ve been donating to UC Berkeley every year since I graduated, with the hope of helping support its excellent students and academic reputation. It’s the little bit I can do to help bridge the gap between the cash-strapped UC Berkeley experience and what the campus’s high-caliber students could be experiencing at a better-funded private school.

The thought of taking money from already underfunded academic programs and giving it to football makes me sick. Football is a sideshow for the entertainment of wealthy alumni donors. The gameday experience isn’t even aimed toward students any more; it’s meant for TV revenue and VIP boxes. This decision makes me seriously rethink whether to donate to UC Berkeley in the future.

Allison Ryan is a UC Berkeley alumna.

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  • BlackConservative

    “The thought of taking money from already underfunded academic programs and giving it to football makes me sick. Football is a sideshow for the entertainment of wealthy alumni donors.”
    Football is a sideshow for a lot more people than just wealthy alumni donors.
    Question: So do you not want those wealthy alumni donors to donate? Sports allow for school pride years after graduating. I’m guessing you don’t watch or play many sports.
    Your idea would allow for less money for everyone just fyi. You should probably think of both sides.

  • Just so we can all be on the same factual page: The article in question does not state that the campus will use “academic-designated” funds for debt payments, and for good reason: We have no intention of doing so. Simply put, Chancellor Christ has made clear that the University will not shift funding from academic areas, or related philanthropy, to pay for any portion of the debt service. As the University continues to successfully develop new sources of revenue to confront budgetary challenges, other funding streams will be available and utilized to service a portion of the stadium debt, which is a campus obligation no matter whose books it sits on.

  • Jeff McDermott

    I worked and borrowed my way through Cal. I graduated in 1981 and moved to New York. I have made Cal my number one philanthropic priority and, while I played rugby at Cal and credit the experience with helping me build character traits which have served me well, I have given far more to acedmics than athletics. Cal athletics binds non Norcal alumni to the University and provides events at which we reconnect with our great alma mater. I have been active in the New York alumni community for many years, and Cal athletics brings many of us together and creates shared experiences and goodwill which translates into philanthropy. To diminish Cal athletics would, in my opinion, decrease philanthropic revenues far in excess of whatever cost savings are contemplated. This would be, as we say in New York, a bad trade. Hats off to Chancellor Crist for making the correct, but tough, long term decision. Jeff McDemott AB 1981

    • California Defender

      So without football there is little motivation to donate to Berkeley?

      Can’t say I disagree. But as Berkeley’s rankings are sinking, soon football may not be enough.