By Jolene Darensbourg
DAVIS – The UC Davis Undergraduate Student Body sent Chancellor Gary May, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Mary Croughan and Director of Athletics Kevin Blue a message in regard to the decision to eliminate the physical education classes in September, which goes into effect during 2021 Winter quarter.
This decision takes away the opportunity to earn six units towards graduation and yet each UC Davis undergraduate student still has to pay over $300 annually in Student Activities and Services Initiative (SASI) fees.
These fees help pay for Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA), which stemmed from the commitment of UC Davis to offer physical education classes for academic credit.
Yet there are over 7,000 undergraduate students who participate in physical education classes, which is over 23 percent of the student body while only approximately two percent of the student body participates in Intercollegiate Athletics.
Over ten million dollars a year are funded through the student body in the SASI fees, and the university plans to still charge students to pay even when these PE classes are no longer offered.
Taking away these classes would be a violation of the SASI referendum from when it was passed in 1994, which stated if any changes were made, then the undergraduate student body would be able to vote on whether or not to continue the fees.
Should the students vote to discontinue the SASI fees, then the money will be refunded to the students.
The Regents Policy 3101 states “the Chancellor or his/her designee annually shall solicit and actively consider student recommendations, with the intent of honoring as much as possible student recommendations on the following: the use of Student Services Fee revenue; and the annual Student Services Fee to be set by the Regents.”
The Chancellor is supposed to take the student recommendations into consideration before making a decision to eliminate the physical education classes, but the decision was made without being known publicly to the undergraduate student body.
Most of the physical education classes are often taught by the coaching staff and if these classes are canceled, these faculty members and former coaches who decided to be on staff in the PE department are at risk of losing their teaching positions.
The Davis Faculty Association also released a letter to Chancellor May and Provost Croughan mentioning their disapproval of the decision to take away physical education classes because it singles out the students who are not able to afford memberships or have opportunities to learn new skills at no cost.
They also mentioned how the decision should have been a larger engagement with the campus community because it affects the students the most, considering the number of students who participate in these programs.
Taking away the PE classes could also affect the “Healthy UC Davis” initiative, which helps the UC Davis community with support, opportunity and information for healthier behaviors.
Benefits of physical activity give students a way to relieve stress and better their health along with learning new skills – eliminating these opportunities would take away a tool to promote communication with others and create new bonds with people they would not have met if not for these classes.
Especially during these times of the coronavirus pandemic, new bonds can help others, whether these classes are through Zoom or if there is any opportunity to conduct them in person at all.
A petition has been produced in the efforts to reverse this decision before the registration for Winter quarter.