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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Commentary: It's all a matter of Priorities

Truth be told, I'm actually a big college football fan. In fact, I spent much of yesterday watching the first full day of college football. With that said, I also think that most universities place too much of a priority on things such as their football program, stadiums, etc. It is one thing for the big programs with huge endowments to spend millions on it, but for the average school, their sports programs is not a net revenue generator.

In any case, I don't have a general problem building new facilities and stadiums, however it is interesting when a university has no trouble finding say $31 million to build a new stadium, but cannot find a few million to improve the salaries of some of their employees who are making meager wages at best. That is where I start to have a bit of a problem with our priorities.

So, if you didn't know, the UC Davis Aggies yesterday opened their new $31 million facility with a loss. They do this ironically the same week as they announced a $2 million agreement with Sodexho--an agreement reached with absolutely no input from their food service worker employees.

Now you'll argue with me, if you're so inclined, that the money comes from different places, that a large amount of the money was raised privately, that some of the money actually did come from student fee hikes, and I don't argue that a bit. But it also proves my point--we find ways to fund new stadiums, we find ways not to raise the wages and health care benefits for workers.

It's the same at any level, we find sponsors to construct new gyms and stadiums at all levels of athletics from junior high to high school to college to pros. But when it comes to raising money for things that make a difference in people's lives, we never seem to quite find the money.

And gain I say, I love college football, but if you can find and raise $31 million for a football stadium at UC Davis, which is not going to generate huge revenue for the university. Can we not find an additional million to help those workers achieve their goal of being university employees? Do they deserve any less than the football players and the soccer players and the others who will utilize the new facility? It's all a matter of priorities...

---Doug Paul Davis reporting