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UC Wants Donations for Grateful Dead Archive, Not AIDS Research

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With the state in the midst of a budget crisis, some former students are questioning why they are receiving fundraising pitches to help boost the Grateful Dead archive at UC Santa Cruz. Alumna Laurie Garrett, a well-known AIDS researcher and winner of both the Pulitzer and Peabody awards, sounded the alarm bells when she received an invitation to a fundraiser supporting the dead head archive, according to California Watch, a blog with the Center for Investigative Journalism.

"[It] feels pretty awful at a time when I am getting letters from kids in the biology department begging me to send cash for purchase of lab rats and pipettes," Garret said. She also tried to donate her AIDS research to the UC Library System, which rejected her, citing funding (they'd likely take money, though).

The Grateful Dead has cultural significance, but while students have trouble doing some of the basics, can it wait? If the $1 million needed to sustain the archive didn't come for a few years, would the archive be okay? Those questions haven't been talked about yet.

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"We think the archive is a very valuable collection for research, and has cultural value," said Christine Bunting at UC Santa Cruz' library. "There are many, many worthy causes (at the university), but this is just one."

Interestingly enough, Garrett's old roommate is screenwriter David Talbot, who also co-fouded Salon.com. He believes getting the archive funded will help put the university on the map, thus bringing the possibility of more funding for other programs. "You can't escape a certain amount of show business in academia. That's a fact of life," he said.