The new buildings and facilities shine under the Westwood sun. Some are more impressive than others; some, perhaps, fill a greater need. But for the most part, they have contributed to making the world a better place. Intended to enhance research, treatment, and communication, they are the gifts of major donors, who have nourished hopes and kept dreams alive.
But as the rhythms of life are renewed each day, and accolades are heaped on accolades, a shadow from Murphy Hall has lengthened, encompassing the entire campus. Because the issue is no longer just the sports program — winning, losing, pride, and discipline. It is about integrity in the chancellor's office — whether disdain for sports entitles the chief administrator of a university to ignore questions of ethics that are at the center of his athletic program.
I am reminded of the words of one of the greatest poets of any age, William Butler Yeats. Three lines taken from "The Second Coming" read this way:
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold ...
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
I am afraid that is now the situation at UCLA, a school under a shadow, which I believe is inextricably linked to Gene Block. (An aside: I would prefer to argue that people can raise their arms and fly than to argue that Dan Guerrero is more responsible for these dismal conditions than Gene Block; he is not.) So the question I have for donors is this: Does the inevitable effect of donations — strengthening the hand of UCLA's administrators in Murphy Hall and the athletic department — negate the good intentions you have in contributing to UCLA? I believe it does, and I believe that until Dan Guerrero and Gene Block leave our campus it will not be possible to set a better path.
Centuries ago, Hillel, a famed Jewish rabbi, asked: "If I am not for myself, who will be?" "If I am not for others, what am I?" and "If not now, when?" It appears that neither Dan Guerrero nor Gene Block will leave willingly. If not now, when? If we don't stand for integrity, who will?
What has happened on the watch of Gene Block and Dan Guerrero is sad in the recounting and abundant in the signs of arrogance. Like many alumni, I no longer recognize my school or its values when I think of the decisions they have made. We now face one of the ironies that recur over a sea of time and a variety of places. Paradoxically, it works this way: You can help by refusing to contribute.
It is beyond dispute that the UCLA family — students, faculty, alumni, and other supporters — are indebted to the school's major donors. When there are occasional disagreements over a donor's priorities those disagreements are always secondary to our shared commitment to a school whose graduates have led the way in finding light where there is darkness. And however much major donors are attached to one proposal or another, I am convinced they care equally about the integrity of UCLA.
It comes down to this, then. For anyone looking at UCLA and remembering when different principles were its guidelines, the words to donors renew themselves like wind sweeping over the prairie: Join with us, stand with us. With your help, a new day will come to UCLA.