Seems to me all of this discussion belongs on the EC page, not on a Talk page. —DonShor
As I said in my part of it, I'm working with the people directly involved to get a fuller story, at which time, I intend to rewrite the EC page itself. — MilesThomas
This page is for discussing the contents of Experimental College.
Hello Miles Thomas,
Thanks for making the description of the suspension more thorough. I had tried to find information about this suspension, but couldn't find anything. So my motivation for putting this story on the Davis Wiki was partly to provoke somebody who actually had information to make it public. May I ask who you are? I'm a ASUCD alumni and former EC instructor, who has a sentimental attachment to the EC. Can you please add a paragraph about the prospects for starting the EC again? Also, I suggest your account is missing one element: As you mention, the EC was woefully mismanaged in recent years, but the ASUCD senate could have figure this out by looking at the numbers. So why didn't they fire the office manager? If this were the "real world" (private enterprise), no manager would have been kept their position with quarter after quarter of losses. Doesn't the ASUCD senate deserve some blame here? Just asking, Chris.
The problem was the Experimental College became less Experimental than was good for teachers and students. As soon as you get politicians involved with something that is Experimental (especially as a last resort), then you got trouble. Compare what happened with Explorit at Tuesday's Davis City Council Meeting. All they had to do was go to Davis City Council and ask for $50,000 to keep its doors open. "Too Much!" moaned City Councilpeople. So Explorit countered with a mere request for $20,000. Oh that went down much more smoothly and now Explorit is back in the black, thanks to Davis taxpayers. The Experimental Management should have seen this coming a long time ago (which the devolution started about the time a majority of students started lugging around laptops) and gotten their political ducks in a row. The current ASUCD politicos had no subtext like there is in Davis for Explorit. Therefore the Experimental managers and concerned citizens should have educated them. Because the loss of the Experimental College is a huge loss for those who support free expression, open minds and, yes, experimenting. UC Davis is that much closer to being truly terminally boring now. —BrianKenyon
I came to Davis Wiki earlier this week to write this information, after e-mailing back some people who had asked me what was going on and I wanted a more public place to share some information until the senate meeting minutes go online or the next volume of The California Aggie is distributed. I noticed that someone had already begun to discuss this and I updated the information. I've been working on a complete re-write of the story for Davis Wiki to provide a little more background and context, but I still want to talk with more of the individuals involved before doing that.
In terms of restarting Experimental College again, I'm not at that point yet, personally. I'd love to sit down with you in a few weeks to discuss ideas, but right now, I'm largely concerned with protecting the Association as a whole. When a company files for bankruptcy, it has to clear all of its accounts before it can be restructured, which we have not come close to doing. Not only is ASUCD is below the industry standard for a 501(c)3 of having 15% of its annual expenditures, but we are also below the 5% that our internal operating procedures demand that we have, an amount required to protect us from bankruptcy in the face of unexpected losses, of which we have suffered many this academic year. Depending on what happens with the Experimental College's remaining accounts and personnel, the unit could still deplete a few thousand from ASUCD reserves in the month to come, and I want to minimize that as much as possible before I can think of the next steps.
The ASUCD Senate certainly deserves blame, but in terms of context, six of the twelve senators who had voted on the decision were sworn in that night, and only two of those six had any previous ASUCD experience. The business manager was not the same one we had as recently as three months ago, and our controller had not stepped into the executive office before getting the role of the association's head budget writer. There are nearly thirty units in ASUCD, and each senator is assigned two or three of them during their tenure. To my understanding, only one senator was assigned to the Experimental Collega as their "adopted unit", and due to their lack of action in that role, I don't even know who that person is. I was upset to find that the list of adopted senators by unit was not posted anywhere online last quarter and will be updating the senate wiki page at the very least (and hopefully senator bios on the ASUCD webiste) with that information as the new class chooses their adopted units early next quarter. In our association, there were very few "politicians" involved with Experimental College, and from what I understand, that was the preference in years past. So we were inexperienced. Few of us have had direct contact with the Experimental College before obtaining the title of "senator", because, unfortunately, very few students use the service anymore.
So it's easy for me to say that we had little experience going into this decision, a decision that was not so much ours but a formal (but non-binding) agreement with the ASUCD Controller, Eric Evans, who suggested that we suspend operations in the course element of EC and continue operations in the garden element. Though I protested that we were given dozens of pages of figures and statistics and only two hours to look over them, interpret them, discuss them, and let the student body's voice be known via the collective decision of the twelve most representative figures in the undergraduate population. While I will content that ASUCD senate does not do a very good job representing the student body on most issues, none of the stakeholders of Experimental College were present at this time. For comparison's sake, when we voted to allocate 3,500 to AggieTV, the entire executive staff and many unpaid volunteers filled our seats. With Experimental College, not even the paid staff bothered to fight for their unit. I don't imagine that the communication between EC admin and instructors was good enough for the instructors to have known to come, so I can't make too much of a point of this, but with just the unit director, I can't imagine anyone new to ASUCD would think this was a unit that the student body was super passionate about.
The winter term senators were (somewhat) aware of Experimental College's financial woes, but forecasting done during spring quarter showed that they'd be fine throughout the year. We did not receive news otherwise until the December 5th Senate Meeting. This is because ASUCD is corrupt, and only two students in the association have access to our actual finances. You know the budget website? It's almost entirely incorrect. The approved budget, the current balances, all of it, it's all lies. The numbers are generally close, but sometimes they're more than 100% different than the true actuals. To get proper financial statements, like I have for my own units and ones that I've been working with closely, one must go to the student services office and ask for a specific detailed report. This information needs to be online for EVERYONE. I've been yelling about this all quarter, and now it finally looks like Creative Media is going to make it happen within the next few weeks. They've promised the budget website would be correct by the first week of the new quarter. Let's cross our fingers.
Last Spring, during budget hearings, I was the only senator critical of the Experimental College's budget, but because that was frequently the case during our 50+ hour budget hearings, my questions were often overlooked for the sake of "efficiency". My efforts last year to sit down with the director and discuss their budget failed, because the director did not return any of my e-mails and President Carly Sandstrom eventually told me and all unit directors that it was inappropriate for a senator to meet with unit directors prior to budget hearings, that I was, in her words, "stepping over the line". So even though I felt uncomfortable with EC last year, I dedicated the 30-50 hours per week I serve as a senator (on top of my academic duties, keeping up my personal relationships, and exercise) to the units which I was assigned and other initiatives that I was "allowed" to pursue.
These problems would have been averted had ASUCD gotten involved sooner, but only by so much. Senate did not "kill" EC, the Experimental College bankrupt itself. I can't comment on "So why didn't they fire the office manager?" too much because of human relations issues that the unit's already in trouble for, but I will remark that I agree, that position should have been removed years ago. It's something I've wanted to do as senator, but my list is very, very long, and I have a lot of groups on campus to look out for.
Though it's easy to disparage politicians (and I've done so myself quite a bit in my response), no one wanted to be the director of EC last year. It was the last unit director filled, and unlike most who are selected spring quarter, the EC director couldn't be found until the end of summer. As far as I could tell last year, the undergraduate population of UC Davis had no students passionate about the experimental college. As individuals sworn to serve the interests of the undergraduate population specifically, it's not too surprising that the politicians in student government were more interested in pursuing initiatives that more students vocally support, or that were more popular. The Experimental College manager, from my perspective, was not going through the necessary steps to make the unit whole, and from what I understand, was engaging in some rather shady behavior that I only found out about recently. No student wanted to lead EC from the ashes, and last year, the director quit because they didn't prioritize EC in their lives. Feel free to blame ASUCD, but with our turnover rate (about 5% of those currently involved were involved two years ago by my anecdotal accounts), our turnover of the full-time staff, who are supposed to be the only constants in ASUCD, and the perceived lack of interest in Experimental College all occurring at the same time that the EC was refusing to change its ways to compete with the Davis Adult School and the Campus Unions and Rec classes at the ARC, I don't know if that's where much of your blame should lie.
I've gone on quite a bit here, so I'll probably come back in a few days when it's not the middle of the night to turn this first-draft into something a little more cohesive, if that's alright with all of you.
- Miles Thomas, ASUCD Senate President Pro Tempore
Of course ASUCD deserves blame, they are too busy furiously circle jerking to actually look at the publicly available numbers, and even if it was brought to their attention what are a bunch of kids playing politics going to do without someone like Champage or Roy or Labbs or Kappes (sigh) to keep it real? ~Daubert