When all is said and done, what is it we want on this site? Sure, we want to see the Bruins win - to win often, to stay ahead of other schools in total championships, and (most poignantly, since we're not there now) to have an athletic department and an administration that makes us proud.
But I think there are two other equally important goals. We don't articulate them very often, but they course through the back roads of our minds and animate many of the thoughts we have about our alma mater.
Those goals for UCLA - those purposes, if you will - are, first, to see that students today have the chance to enjoy the same opportunities we enjoyed and, second, to see that UCLA continues to serve as a beacon whose research and programs offer hope to those who now live only in its shadows.
One thing for sure: It requires little or no insight to see how many challenges there are; to see how those goals may be even more elusive today than they were just 10 years ago. I'm particularly concerned about student debt and the cost of higher education. (To the best of my knowledge, the costs of college have far outstripped the rise of inflation.) And as it happens, I learned a lot more about the problem on Monday night's PBS Newshour.
President Obama, of course, signed an executive order to help students repay their college debt, and while I support that decision, I was struck by the view of Richard Vedder, an Ohio University economics professor, who said: "The student loan program enables colleges to raise their tuition fees. And it almost invites them to raise tuition fees, creating an academic arms race, which I think has become very costly, very inefficient, and very harmful, particularly to lower-income people."
Please understand: I'm not calling for an end to the student loan program. But I am saying that the times we live in demand better choices among competing priorities. That brings me to UCLA and Chancellor Gene Block.
We've pretty much beaten the issue of the Luskin Conference and Guest Center to death. (Has it been built yet? I try not to keep up with it.) The same applies to the loss of the book fair and the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging. That's the past and, regrettable as it is, I'm willing to let it go.
But here's something I belatedly discovered. The Daily Bruin ran a story last November (I just saw it on the Web) saying that the road ahead for UCLA Student Media "is increasingly uncertain," and the student media adviser's future may be in doubt. I say may because I've also read that she is now a "contracted consultant" to UCLA journalists. (Apparently, the adviser was asked to work full time as jobs were consolidated, and it was impractical for her to do so.)
It hardly matters, however, in terms of my essential point. We live in a world of diminishing resources, and choosing among priorities is a critical task. I hope the Daily Bruin always has a media adviser, and in fairness, let me admit that bureaucrats may have tied Block's hands. Whatever the case, though, I can say this: As a journalist for more than 45 years, I know it's crucial to have someone advising the students who write and edit stories for the Daily Bruin.
Unless campus life has changed radically - and I'm pretty sure it hasn't - the Daily Bruin is still worth reading. If you're not sure of that, turn here to see the DB's graduation issue. It's an impressive testament to the establishment of memories, the loss of security, and the building of dreams. (Yes, all three.)
So what's the bottom line? I've probably made the point too many times, but I think it's stewardship. If that word means anything, it means making the kind of decisions that institutions can build on. (Someone named Franklin Murphy did that, in my opinion.)
How about a case in point to wrap up an overly long post? Dr. Stanley F. Nelson is a UCLA professor of human genetics; his wife, M. Carrie Miceli, is a UCLA professor of microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics. The Center for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at UCLA is working to find a cure for the disease that afflicts victims like their son, 12-year-old Dylan Miceli-Nelson.
I think Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness." The Center for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy makes me think of that quote. The Luskin Conference and Guest Center - not so much.