Op-Ed: Let’s Send the Axe to San Quentin

Opinion by and
Jan. 14, 2011, 12:04 a.m.

I’m proud that Stanford University and our ol’ pals at Cal finally decided to put the Axe where it belongs: in the hands of the better school. With Andrew Luck coming back and Stanford football fresh off one of its best seasons in history, it seems we’ll have say over where the trophy stays for some time. I think I speak for most Stanford fans when I say that the people who beat up on Cal the most deserve the trophy. That’s why I hope the Stanford community supports sending the Axe trophy to San Quentin, a California state prison.

The University of California, Berkeley, is a public institution that is completely dependent on funding from California. The governor’s recommendation for the state’s 2011-2012 budget was released on Jan. 10, and it bleeds Cardinal. Last year, sweeping budget cuts rocked Berkeley. The university was forced to cut the baseball team and shutout the program better than any Stanford pitcher could. This year, the school lost billions of dollars in state funds. We can only hope that Berkeley’s football team is next on the list of programs to be cut. Jerry Brown, our loyal governor, masked his allegiance to the Farm beneath rhetoric about tough choices and fiscal responsibility. But these crippling cuts are what Stanford fans have been waiting for—a chance to wipe a haven for hobos off the map. I’m sure that the pinkos among us are wondering where Berkeley’s money went. A glance at the budget shows that although the proposal is filled with losers, not everyone came up short. Fearing the wrath of unions like the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (prison guards), funding for prisons took only slight cuts in the governor’s budget proposal. California unions haven’t just sliced open Berkeley’s pockets; they have even proposed a place to put all these stranded bears.

Apparently, our plan is to lock up all the Cal students who can no longer afford tuition increases. In honor of their accomplishments, I feel like we owe these prison guards a chance to have the Axe.

California has not always been a Stanford fan. There was a time, under a different governor Brown, in which the University of California thrived: It was a model of free, higher education for the rest of the world. Berkeley enjoyed an extraordinary reputation, unfolding state resources and enough money for working showers in all the dormitories.

As the century dragged on, politics in Sacramento dragged the system into a world where the one who votes speaks softer than the one who pays. A city that had constructed the foundation for its state’s future success realized the error in its ways. Suddenly, Stanford fans came out of the woodwork. Grassroots organizations passed propositions and repealed taxes. Teachers unions representing K-12 employees began throwing their money behind politicians and ballot measures. Prison guard unions evolved into a political movement. Everyone marched to the beat of our marching band’s drum (that’s why everything is so messed up, I guess). That is how we got here.

I have a prescription for Stanford fans looking to keep the Axe and slowly take Berkeley off the map. Don’t vote. College students who vote become constituents who make politicians nervous. Nervous politicians fund colleges. Don’t protest. We should be proud that the University of California is sinking beneath the weight of an ocean of debt. Don’t worry. If the Axe is in the hands of prison guards and union representatives, there won’t be anyone in California strong enough to take it away.

Eric Dunn ’13

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