CSU Bakersfield’s squandering of student fees appears to know no bounds

By Steven Barker

News Editor


In the Apr. 15 issue of The Runner, it was reported that CSUB spent $30,000 dollars to send 53 students (that is, people not involved with the participating athletic teams) to the Western Athletic Conference basketball tournament held in Las Vegas from March 11 through March 14. However, after consulting last week with Arthur Smith, the spirit program coordinator at CSUB, The Runner learned that 118 students and staff – the pep band, dance team, cheer team, mascot team and chaperones comprised the additional 65 guests – attended for a total cost of $21,500.

While these numbers surely soften the financial blow of the WAC tournament, paying for students and staff to attend is nevertheless a monumental waste of student fee money. If spirit fee money is to be spent on anything, it should be spent only on campus events.

Among some campus officials and members of the athletic department, this is surely an unpopular opinion. Inevitably some will argue that a trip to Vegas for the WAC tournament is about more than just supporting the basketball teams – that the experience of traveling with one’s friends and escaping school for a weekend is a quintessential college experience. Others might also say that it is important to support our university’s athletes and athletic department, and since the spirit fee exists to enhance school spirit and make events more enriching, funding students’ travel to Vegas is a practical way of doing both.

However, if we consider both the logistics and statistics of the WAC tournament, we immediately see a number of red flags that the university either failed to consider or completely ignored. The tournament was held the weekend before finals; why then would the university genuinely expect students to attend a tournament rather than prepare for such significant exams? Additionally, this exact trip only drew 43 attendees last year; why then would CSUB believe students would suddenly show enthusiasm and be willing to travel hours for teams that draw only tepid interest here at home?

More importantly, if the spirit fee exists to enrich the student experience and develop school spirit, then why spend money to take people away from our campus? Why not instead make events more exciting here?

Rather than direct students away from campus, I imagine a world in which CSUB uses its spirit fee money to help lower the costs of concessions at games – to make a hot dog, a large soda or some nachos more affordable for students and families. I imagine a world in which school merchandise is discounted, where students, parents and children can leave the game with something more than good memories.

That is to say, I imagine a world in which CSUB spends its fee money on its students.

None of these changes would replace the satisfaction of watching our home teams win, and undoubtedly students would love to see our CSUB teams become perennial contenders in their respective sports. But the ability to both eat and purchase CSUB memorabilia affordably – that is, the ability to have a meaningful, enjoyable experience beyond the result of the game – is in itself deeply satisfying and something that would greatly improve the value of sporting events.

If CSUB is ever to achieve a truly vibrant school spirit, then we must invest fully in our students and campus. We must create exciting opportunities for students to have fun, experiences that make students proud of our campus grounds and university.