UCLA and The Garden

It’s been a busy day, what with two appointments and splitting a 1700+ page document into a 1500+ page document and a 400+ page document…. but I still wanted to share an article with you about a judge preventing UCLA from selling the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden. This is a garden that was willed to UCLA; they’ve been maintaining it for years. Now they want to sell it. Why? According to the article:

“The university believes that resources are best directed toward our academic mission and not toward a garden that serves no teaching or research purpose,” said university spokesman Phil Hampton in an emailed statement.

Read that closely. They want to sell the garden because it serves no teaching or research purpose. Really now? So why are they building a hotel on campus. There are plenty of hotels in the neighborhood, and I’m unaware of UCLA having a hotel management program. Building an ungodly expensive hotel serves no teaching or research purpose. Neither does the artwork that adorns the buildings. Utilitarian buildings are cheaper; why waste the money on making university buildings pretty. Why have an arts program for the public? Hell, why have an athletic program–that serves no teaching or research purpose.

Gardens can have a research and teaching purpose if used properly. They can provide research into botany. They can be used for art classes. They can be used for history classes. Don’t use teaching and research as an excuse; use it as a challenge to make your programs better.

Oh, and if you are trying to rationalize selling the gardens, at least be honest about it. UCLA needs the money. But somehow, I doubt it will go towards reducing registration fees or student costs.