Outside funding

Staff Editorial

Staff Editorial

For the past couple years, administrators have been renting classrooms to an unrelated language school in order to make money. Though selling out much-needed resources to make a buck is a less than attractive concept, The Channels supports the administration’s agreement with Aspect and supports the renewal of its lease on campus.
Aspect is an international English language school, completely unrelated to City College, which rents out six of the East Campus temporary classrooms on a Board of Trustees-approved lease. Their lease is about to expire. Though the argument could be made the school is using valuable campus resources, the board will likely renew the lease, and they should.
There are, however, good points to support an argument against renting out classrooms for profit. For example, classroom availability is tight and will continue to be. The huge demand for classroom availability surpasses the supply.
Despite the shortages in space, it’s a worthwhile sacrifice, but only just this once.
It comes up repeatedly at education planning forums, at Board of Trustees meetings and from the mouths of budgeting experts: during this budget crunch, City College needs to be entrepreneurial to fill certain financial voids that the state can’t.
Aspect rents six of the environmental buildings behind the Campus Center and coughs up at least $2,400 a week, whether it has two students enrolled or forty. Not only do they represent a steady source of cash that adds up to nearly a quarter of a million dollars a year at the minimum, their presence came at a very low cost for City College.
When Aspect first moved in, they renovated their six environmental building on their own dime for $90,000. Their neat white buildings with plants in front of them stand in contrast to the rest of the temporary buildings-the others are brown and ugly.
Aspect students also shop at the bookstore, eat at the cafeteria and exercise at the life fitness center. While that might not equate to big, big bucks, it’s another continual source of money.
More importantly, Aspect does not contribute in any way to the ongoing parking problems. All of their students live with host families here in Santa Barbara and none of them drive. Aspect instructors are only allowed to park in the Harbor parking lot.
And as long as part of East Campus is being used for profit, it might as well serve an educational purpose, like the language school does. Better than a McDonald’s. Far better.
While City College benefits financially from its relationship with Aspect, administrators should not get comfortable with this sort of arrangement.
The most dangerous aspect, no pun intended, of leasing parts of the campus to other entities is that it sets a dangerous precedent. Yes, this campus needs to be entrepreneurial in this fiscal drought, and yes, the campus bean counters have to resort to outside-the-box methods of making ends meet, but they will always have to keep in mind that they are employees of an educational institution, not a corporation.
Leasing out part of the campus is a smart move but it’s a slippery slope. It’s a wise move for the campus bureaucrats to avoid this sort of thing in the future.