Sunday, December 4, 2016

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A tree grows in Westwood

We can do better
From the BruinThe City of Los Angeles will plant about 20 trees along Westwood Boulevard between Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards in the next few months. Roozbeh Farahanipour, a Westwood Neighborhood Council board member, said between 80 and 90 trees in the designated area were removed, cut or vandalized in the past several years and have not been replaced. Farahanipour filed a motion with the council in July to request that the city investigate illegal tree cutting on Westwood Boulevard and replace the trees. The motion was passed unanimously...

Full story at

UCLA could use a few more trees nearby. After all, it was once, "the Southern Branch" of the University of California.

They want to get in

Not a knock-knock joke
How top U.S. colleges hooked up with controversial Chinese companies

Reuters  12-2-16

Thomas Benson once ran a small liberal arts college in Vermont. Stephen Gessner served as president of the school board for New York’s Shelter Island.

More recently, they’ve been opening doors for Chinese education companies seeking a competitive edge: getting their students direct access to admissions officers at top U.S. universities.  

Over the past seven years, Benson and Gessner have worked as consultants for three major Chinese companies. They recruited dozens of U.S. admissions officers to fly to China and meet in person with the companies' student clients, with the companies picking up most of the travel expenses. Among the schools that participated: Cornell University, the University of Chicago, Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.

Two companies Benson and Gessner have represented – New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc and Dipont Education Management Group – offer services to students that go far beyond meet-and-greets with admissions officers.

Eight former and current New Oriental employees and 17 former Dipont employees told Reuters the firms have engaged in college application fraud, including writing application essays and teacher recommendations, and falsifying high school transcripts.

The New Oriental employees said most clients lacked the language skills to write their own essays or personal statements, so counselors wrote them; only the top students did original work. New Oriental and Dipont deny condoning or wittingly engaging in application fraud...

Full story at

Friday, December 2, 2016

Political Reshuffle Could Affect the Regents

No, not the one going on in Washington, DC. Here in California, State Attorney General Kamala Harris was elected U.S. Senator. That shift opened a vacancy for Gov. Brown to appoint. He appointed Congressman Xavier Becerra to be attorney general. That shift created a contest to fill Becerra's soon-to-be vacant congressional seat. Regent John Pérez has now declared himself a candidate for that seat:

It didn’t take long after Xavier Becerra was selected as California’s next attorney general for the race to succeed him to begin.
Less than an hour after Gov. Jerry Brown announced Thursday morning that the Democratic congressman from Los Angeles would take over for Attorney General Kamala Harris when she heads to the U.S. Senate next year, the first candidate emerged for this rare open House seat: former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez.
“I’m running for Congress to take these California values and our state’s visionary approach to the national level,” Pérez said in a statement. “California needs leadership who will stand up against Donald Trump, but also leadership that will fight for the poor, the middle class, for job creation, and for a vision that can help us win all across the country.”
Within hours, he had rolled out his first string of endorsements, including former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, and state Controller Betty Yee.
Pérez, a Democrat, served six years in the Assembly, including four as speaker, before narrowly losing the controller election to Yee in 2014. He was appointed by Brown to the University of California governing board later that year, where he has been a critic of proposals to raise tuition.
Becerra’s seat, the 34th Congressional District, covers the area around downtown Los Angeles and is heavily Democratic and nearly two-thirds Latino...
When Pérez was speaker of the Assembly, he was automatically an ex officio regent. The ex officio regents, such as the governor, are obviously political officeholders and sometimes candidates. But Pérez is currently out of office and now holds a "regular" regent's seat, as an appointee of the governor. Whether he can continue to serve as a candidate - or will want to - is unclear. If he drops off the board, Gov. Brown could nominate someone else. As a regent, Pérez often challenged UCOP on various issues.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Safe can be unsafe

The Daily Bruin has been featuring some very sensible opinion pieces. Here's one:

Campus “safe spaces” prevent students from engaging in honest dialogue

BY JACQUELINE ALVAREZ, Posted: November 30, 2016

Two weeks ago, I sat in a safe space in Bunche Hall, eager to open myself to the variety of stories and perspectives students had to share regarding the election results. I did not vote or feel any vexation after President-elect Donald Trump won, so I was genuinely curious as to how other students were coping.

When it was my turn to share my thoughts, I revealed my Mexican family had not been directly affected by the president-elect’s anti-immigrant comments because they were not here illegally. I was immediately bombarded with side-eye glances and shocked looks and quickly acknowledged my mistake:

“Sorry, undocumented immigrants.”

I was originally optimistic to hear authentic and vulnerable thoughts at the safe space, but came out disappointed. The opinions I heard were superficial, guarded and excessively “politically correct.” I felt like students were holding back from sharing their honest thoughts and feelings, as the strong fear of offending someone guided dialogue.

People were hesitant to raise their hands to participate. The awkward tension prompted the facilitator to ask attendees to contribute. And when people did speak up, they simply regurgitated what others before them said, offering absolutely no insight or solutions to their issues.

Similar safe spaces have been held throughout campus as platforms to make sense of the election and cultivate community among students who have been alarmed by Trump’s victory. These safe spaces aim to provide a comfortable, supportive environment for students to express themselves without the fear of attack or humiliation. But as a result, some of these spaces were hardly safe at all.

After attending a few more of these safe spaces, it’s clear they are necessary for all students, regardless of political affiliation. However, while we all need a place to vent and share how we feel, safe spaces are limiting, and we students need to acknowledge how they fail to reconcile political divisions. Instead, the student body needs to conduct constructive debates with guidelines that invite people to respectfully argue their different viewpoints and opinions.

People naturally gravitate toward settings and groups that favor their backgrounds and beliefs, and it’s mistaken to label safe spaces as a purely liberal concept. Earlier this month, Bruin Republicans Internal Vice President Julia Nista suggested their club can serve as a place for conservative students who find it difficult to share their opinions without facing attacks from students or faculty who disagree with them. In other words, their club is a safe space.

And even conservative safe spaces don’t help facilitate open dialogue. In early October, the club organized an event to discuss immigration policy, which Bruin Republicans outreach director Haley Nieves claimed would be an intelligent, public discussion that would hopefully help change some perspectives. But it wasn’t. At the end, the forum proved to be unproductive as attendees and panelists succumbed to a vicious and immature shouting match.

Another example of safe spaces gone wrong was the 2016 Students of Color Conference held earlier this month, which hundreds of University of California students attended, including some of UCLA’s Undergraduate Students Association Council representatives. According to their mission statement, SOCC’s major goal was to “create a space to discuss, dissect, and create relevant solutions to issues surrounding students of color.” However, the conference eventually turned into a kind of “oppression Olympics,” where students argued over which minority group was oppressed the most rather than finding solidarity and understanding amongst each other.

In essence, groups from both sides of the political spectrum have arranged their own safe spaces which have proven to be biased bubbles of ineffective discussion that lack respectability and open-mindedness. From excessive political correctness to downright toxicity, these spaces do not encourage students to engage in mature dialogue that could actually present solutions to their issues. It is important for participants to understand how to conduct themselves, while still being able to respectfully argue with others.

Having student organizations, such as USAC, initiate constructive debates on campus would help fix this. A set of guidelines would be a great way to facilitate these debates and ensure their productivity. For example, UC Berkeley has enacted its own set of discussion guidelines for students to follow when student organizations host debates and conversation forums. These guidelines dictate that participants should speak with the positive intent of seeking greater knowledge about their peers and understanding that students might unintentionally offend them.

Hosting debates can run the risk of causing more political division because students might be more concerned with “winning” a debate than understanding opposing perspectives. Nonetheless, the purpose of conversation and debate is to create general consensus on an issue. Unlike safe spaces which perpetuate political divides, debates will encourage bridging them.

If students claim that they want to engage in more thoughtful discussions and find workable solutions to their problems, they need to actually do it. So-called “safe spaces” and echo chambers won’t help anybody reach a clear consensus on any issues.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

UC Issues Statement of What It Will and Won't Do With Regard to Immigration Status

...University of California President Janet Napolitano on Wednesday released “principles in support of undocumented members of the UC community” that stated campus police departments would not assist federal or local authorities in investigating, detaining or arresting individuals for violations of immigration law.
The principles also included promises that UC would continue to admit students and treat patients at its hospitals regardless of immigration status, and that it would not participate in any efforts to create a national registry based on characteristics such as religion.
“While we still do not know what policies and practices the incoming federal administration may adopt,” Napolitano said in a statement, “given the many public pronouncements made during the presidential campaign and its aftermath, we felt it necessary to reaffirm that UC will act upon its deeply held conviction that all members of our community have the right to work, study, and live safely and without fear at all UC locations.” ...
The official statement:
University of California Statement of Principles in Support of Undocumented Members of the UC Community
The University of California welcomes and supports students without regard to their immigration status. UC will continue to admit students in a manner consistent with our nondiscrimination policy and without regard to a student’s race, color, national origin, religion, citizenship or other protected characteristic. In other words, undocumented applicants with or without DACA status will be considered for admission on the same basis as any U.S. citizen or other applicant.
The University is committed to creating an environment in which all admitted students can successfully matriculate and graduate.
Federal law protects student privacy rights, and the California Constitution and statutes provide broad privacy protection to all members of the UC community. University policy provides additional privacy protections. When the University receives requests for information that implicate individual privacy rights, the University will continue its practice of working closely with the Office of General Counsel to protect the privacy of members of the UC community. We will not release immigration status or related information in confidential student records, without permission from a student, to federal agencies or other parties without a judicial warrant, a subpoena, a court order or as otherwise required by law.
Primary jurisdiction over enforcement of federal immigration laws rests with the federal government and not with UCPD or any other state or local law enforcement agency. UCPD is devoted to providing professional policing services that strive to ensure a safe and secure environment in which members of the University’s diverse community can pursue the University’s research, education and public service missions. Community trust and cooperation are essential to effective law enforcement on campus or other UC locations. The limited resources of UC police departments should not be diverted from this mission to enforcement of federal immigration laws. Accordingly:
a. No UC campus police department will join those state and local law enforcement agencies that have entered into an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), or undertake other joint efforts with federal, state or local law enforcement agencies, to investigate, detain or arrest individuals for violation of federal immigration law.
b. It is in the best interest of all members of the UC community to encourage cooperation with the investigation of criminal activity. To encourage such cooperation, all individuals, regardless of their immigration status, must feel secure that contacting or being addressed by UC police officers will not automatically lead to an immigration inquiry and/or a risk of removal. Consequently:
1. Campus police officers will not contact, detain, question or arrest an individual solely on the basis of suspected undocumented immigration status or to discover the immigration status of an individual, except as required by law.
2. Campus police should avoid actions that create a disincentive to report crime, or to offer testimony as a witness to a crime, such as requesting information about immigration status from crime victims and witnesses.
c. The California Attorney General has concluded that civil immigration detainers are voluntary requests to local law enforcement and compliance is not mandatory. Local law enforcement agencies may be liable for improperly detaining an individual who is otherwise eligible for release based on a civil immigration detainer. Consequently:
1. Campus police officers will not detain an individual in response to an immigration hold request from ICE, or any other law enforcement agency enforcing federal immigration law, unless doing so is required by law or unless an individual has been convicted of a serious or violent felony.
2. In order to confirm compliance with legal requirements and these principles, campus police chiefs should review any other request for information from ICE, or any other law enforcement agency enforcing federal immigration law, before response.
d. If campus police receive a request to assist a victim of or witness to a crime with a U visa or T visa application, the request should be immediately forwarded to the campus police chief who should take prompt action to facilitate the request, if appropriate.
A federal effort to create a registry based on any protected characteristics, such as religion, national origin, race or sexual orientation, would be antithetical to the United States Constitution, the California Constitution, federal and state laws, and principles of nondiscrimination that guide our University.
The University’s medical centers treat all patients who require our services without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, citizenship or other protected characteristics. In keeping with the mission of the University of California, we recognize and understand that our ability to fulfill our public health responsibilities depends on the ability of patients to trust their providers. Our UC medical centers remain committed to these responsibilities and will vigorously enforce University nondiscrimination and privacy policies and standards of professional conduct.
These principles will be implemented through policies and procedures that will apply to all UC campuses and medical facilities.

Minutiae on Mnuchin?

There is an announcement from the Trump transition organization that Steven Mnuchin is to be Secretary of the Treasury and that he is a member of the "UCLA Health System Board."

...A statement this morning from the presidential transition team announcing Trump’s intent to nominate Mnuchin said he is a member of the board of The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the UCLA Health System board, the Los Angeles Police Foundation, as well as a number of organizations in New York.


That information may have come from his Bloomberg profile which also lists him as a member of the "UCLA Health System Board":

Now, there is a UCLA Health leadership team:

And there is a UCLA Health Executive Oversight Board:

When I type "Mnuchin" and "UCLA" into Google, I do find:

...OneWest Foundation is the philanthropic branch of OneWest Bank, led by Steven Mnuchin, Chairman of the Bank. "Steven Mnuchin and the Foundation's commitment to support the important lifestyle education arm of our effort is gratefully acknowledged and vital to children developing the skills to manage their own diabetes," said Dr. Kuk-Wha Lee, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Interim Chief, Division of Endocrinology, Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA...


So Mnuchin has some philanthropic connection to UCLA.

But when I type in "UCLA Health System Board" into Google, I don't find such a Board.

Perhaps someone would like to clarify. ???  What is the Board? Who is on it?