By Steve Weinberg
From the University of California's Upper Sproul Plaza three weeks ago came the evocative, 1960s-era sounds of protest — speeches, chants, calls for change — over staggering budget cuts on the Berkeley campus and throughout the UC system. Just up Bancroft Way, construction outside football's Memorial Stadium raised a competing clatter.
More than $430 million will go into a new office, training and locker room complex for athletics and then renovation of the venerable, 86-year-old stadium, in part to make it more earthquake-resistant. The money will come from private sources, officials say. But the high-dollar project nonetheless stands out amid fiscal retrenchment across the university.
Some faculty members have hit on the issue of athletics spending, a few expressing themselves in an online forum about the budget crisis and staff furloughs, tuition increases, enrollment reductions and other cost-saving measures. Anthropology professor Laura Nader complained in a letter this summer to UC system President Mark Yudof: "No word of cuts? A new sports center, fixing the stadium? If it is true that this is what most alums want then faculty have done a poor job in educating." The outcry has been limited, however.