By John Wilkens, Daily Nexus, February 16, 1977
As the groundbreaking date for UCen II draws near, the battle between critics and supporters of the project has spread from UCSB to San Diego.
Using over 2,000 student signatures and UCSB’s long range development plan as “evidence,” a group from Students Against Wasteful Spending (SAWS) went to San Diego yesterday to try and persuade the California Coastal Commission to halt the construction of UCen II.
“We’re hoping they (the Coastal Commission) will vote the University down,” said Corey Dubin, executive director of SAWS. “If they do, then the University can’t build.”
“The students should have a voice in this,” he continued. “That’s why we’re going to the Commission meeting.”
Dubin and other critics of UCen II have often focused on the lack of student input in the project.
“The committee (Capital Improvements) was not student represented,” Dubin charged. “After the project was approved by the committee, Cheadle changed the proposal, sent it back to the committee who ran it right through. There was no more student input.”
“The problem is that there is such a big turnover from year to year and people claim that they are not being consulted,” said Kitty Joyce, a member of the 1975 Capital Improvements Committee which recommended the UCen II project for Chancellor Cheadle’s approval. “But if we keep consulting people then we never start building.”
“If we don’t start building then we won’t be consulting those who have contributed to the project in the past,” she said. “We are expected to reconcile the present moment with the past and the future and it just can’t be done.”
Construction on UCen II, which along with the Campus Events Facility was approved by the UC Regents last summer, is expected to begin next quarter. Completion of the project is slated for September 1978.
Designed by a San Francisco-based architecture firm, UCen II will double the size of the campus bookstore and increase the number of student offices and services. The plans feature “a pavilion enclosing the existing outdoor patio in a two story heavy timber structure…” as well as a programming pavilion, expanded eating areas and a 500 seat theater.
“I’d like to see places to eat which are a little more attractive,” said Joyce. “And the newer bookstore will be more scholarly…where you can buy more than just textbooks.”
The concept of a UCen II is not a new one; the project was included in UCSB’s long range development plan.
“When UCen I was built, there was always going to be a UCen II,” said Betsy Watson, Senior Representative of the Office of Public Information. “In 1967 it seemed likely that we were going to have to accommodate a maximum enrollment of 25,000, especially with the large migration to California. But the migration stopped…” she added.
“It’s not just the facilities that we object to, it’s the whole long range development plan,” said Dubin, who called the document “totally inadequate.” He added, “It’s like something the University would send out to the parents saying ‘This is UCSB.'”
Funding for the project is a complex arrangement, but the bulk of the financing comes from registration fee reserves which were accumulated before 1970.
“In the ’60s the students had an awareness that recreational facilities were diminishing and that the situation was not getting any better,” Watson said. “They decided to assess themselves and set something aside for future generations.”
Loans, interest collected on the reg fe reserves and “$700,000 in UCen reserves” also contribute to the funding, according to Richard Jensen, director of Planning Analysis and Budget. Jensen also called UCen II’s self-supportability “one of the requirements” for project approval.
“The $3.3 million can be spent a lot better,” Dublin remarked. “We understand the reg fees can only be spent on construction. We’re going to try to change that.”
UCen II, according to Joyce, was selected from a list of 160 proposals. The projects had to meet strict committee criteria, including the “potential number of people using the opposed projects” and the “impact of the projects on the surrounding campus and community.”
“People are worried about the loss of open space…but the design (UCen II) has those things in the forefront,” said Joyce, who feels the project’s main benefit is the “better use of existing space. The advantages of the UCen aren’t going to be seen until it is built and we see what has been lacking,” she added.