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Monday, October 20, 2014

Where you don't want to be this evening

The corner where you don't want to be
News reports say Hillary Clinton is doing a fundraiser at Tavern restaurant - San Vicente and Darlington - this evening.  If your commute from UCLA takes you that way, you might want to find another route.  Of course, if you have a spare $32,400, you could attend.

Source: http://patch.com/california/centurycity/hillary-rodham-clinton-speak-monday-area

Who's on the list?

The Washington Post has published a list of fifty-five higher ed institutions under federal investigation for their handling of sexual harassment/assault cases.  There are some big names on the list such as Harvard.  However, in California, only three 4-year institutions appear and only one is a UC. 

The California institutions are Occidental, USC, and UC-Berkeley.

You can find the complete listing (as of May 1) at http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/federal-government-releases-list-of-55-colleges-universities-under-title-ix-investigations-over-handling-of-sexual-violence/2014/05/01/e0a74810-d13b-11e3-937f-d3026234b51c_story.html

Is it really a surprise?

Of late, there have been a series of news articles expressing surprise that Jerry Brown, who is assured of re-election as governor, isn't vigorously campaigning for legislative Democrats who might be in trouble.  The theme of the articles is that the legislative Democrats, if they do well, could regain their 2/3 supermajority allowing them to pass tax increases, put constitutional amendments on the ballot, etc.  The writers seem puzzled that Brown isn't pushing for that result.

The most recent of these articles appears in the Sacramento Bee:
http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/gov-jerry-brown/article3077494.html

There is a simple answer.  Why would Brown, who likes to be in charge of state policy, want to have a legislature that can do anything (including override his veto)?  He is assured of a comfortable Democratic majority, so state budgets can be passed without Republican support.  Not so long ago, you needed 2/3 to pass a budget and that gave Republicans leverage and led to (long) delays.  But thanks to the voters, the budget can now be passed by a simple majority.  But Brown can veto it (as he once did) if he doesn't like it, so ultimately the legislature has to deal with him.  Brown may have some ideas about taxes after his temporary Prop 30 taxes expire.  But he can always go the initiative route, as he did with Prop 30, and bypass the legislative process.  Brown has plenty of money in the till for an initiative effort if he wants to have one.  With the exception of various billionaires with pet causes, those folks with ideas like an oil severance tax for higher ed don't have the money.  Any tax idea, therefore, is likely to need to pass muster with Brown before it has a reasonable chance of being enacted.

So really, the only surprising question in the story of why Brown is not active in legislative campaigns is why news reporters are surprised by his behavior.

Sticking to Business?

Every once in awhile something happens that suggests that UC prez Napolitano has her eye on a future career beyond her present position.  One of those things is comments by the UC prez on national issues that don't have much relation to UC or even higher ed:

Janet Napolitano on Saturday lambasted Congress for politicizing concerns about the Ebola virus, and drew parallels to the response to 2009's H1N1 flu pandemic, which she oversaw as Homeland Security Secretary. Napolitano criticized a recent Congressional hearing on Ebola featuring Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “In the middle of a crisis, pulling Dr. Frieden away from the work he needs to do so Congress members could all make their little press statements -- it was shameful,” Napolitano, now president of the University of California, said to The WorldPost at a Pacific Council on International Policy conference...

Full story at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/19/congress-ebola-napolitano_n_5986754.html

Maybe it would be better just to let the future - whatever it will be - take care of itself:

Sunday, October 19, 2014

UCLA History: Entrance

Above: The entrance to UCLA in the 1930s (from the USC[!] photo collection)
Below is reverse view.


Copyright fuzziness

Yours truly recently attended a session dealing in part with copyright and what can be put on course websites at UCLA.  Now Inside Higher Ed is reporting on a legal case which puts in doubt some of the guidance included in that session.  An initial court decision largely favored university use of publications that could be put on course websites as fair use.  On appeal, however, the initial decision appears to have been - if not overturned - called into question.

You can find the article from Inside Higher Ed at https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/10/18/federal-appeals-court-rejects-georgia-state-us-10-percent-rule-determining-fair-use

Some blog readers may recall an incident a few years ago where UCLA temporarily disabled streaming videos used for courses and then restored them due to litigation over copyright.  The lesson is that it's good to have a Plan B for your class if you are using copyrighted material that might be questioned in some court, somewhere, at some time.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Berkeley Sex Assault Developments

We are about one month from the next Regents meetings and some developments at UC-Berkeley suggest that the evolving policies and legal framework surrounding sexual assault, affirmative consent laws, etc., will be back on the agenda.

News reports from the Bay Area report on alleged fraternity sexual assaults at UC-Berkeley.  However, the details on what happened, as reported in the commercial press and the student-run Daily Californian, are unclear.

From the Oakland Tribune: A security alert was issued Friday by UC Berkeley police after a fraternity leader claimed a member of his fraternity had been sexually assaulted by another member.

The student, affiliated with the Theta Delta Chi fraternity at 2647 Durant Ave., contacted the Campus Security Authority on Thursday and said that a member told him he had been sexually assaulted by a current Theta Delta Chi fraternity member, Lt. Eric Tejada said.

The leadership member, who has not been identified by police, also told campus police that there may be other victims, Tejada said.
Police did not say when the assault took place or provide any further details.
On Thursday, another security alert was issued by campus police after an anonymous report alleging that five people were drugged and sexually assaulted at an off-campus fraternity house last weekend. The allegations were made by an unidentified person who also alerted the Campus Security Authority, which in turn reported it to UC Berkeley police.
Tejada said the person told a campus security liaison that five people were given rohypnol, a date-rape drug commonly known as "roofies," before being assaulted at the Delta Kappa Epsilon house. Delta Kappa Epsilon is not officially recognized by UC Berkeley.


UC police put out alerts in both incidents under reporting guidelines mandated by the federal Clery Act...

Full story at http://www.insidebayarea.com/breaking-news/ci_26747632/uc-berkeley-issues-alert-after-report-that-5

The Daily Californian story is similar: http://www.dailycal.org/2014/10/17/fraternity-member-reports-sexually-assaulted-another-member/

At the same time, a Berkeley student charged with rape was declared factually innocent by a judge.  Such judicial declarations are unusual:

On Friday, a rape charge against UC Berkeley student Eugene Quillin was dismissed after prosecutors concluded that Quillin was innocent of committing the crime. Quillin, 20, was charged with rape by use of drugs last week after an alleged sexual assault Sept. 27 was reported. The woman whom Quillin was charged with assaulting, identified in court documents only as “Jane Doe,” was “prevented from resisting by an intoxicating, anesthetic, and controlled substance,” according to the court documents. But after reviewing the evidence provided by Berkeley Police Department and interviewing Jane Doe, district attorney spokesperson Teresa Drenick said, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office determined that Quillin didn’t commit any sexual assault Sept. 27 and motioned to dismiss the charges. The charges were dismissed Friday, the same day Quillin was scheduled to enter a plea. Judge Gregory Syren granted an 851.8 motion filed by the defense — indicating a factual finding of innocence — that seals off and destroys the records of Quillin’s arrest. The motion differs from expungement because the motion, under Penal Code 851.8, indicates Quillin shouldn’t have been arrested in the first place...

Full story at http://www.dailycal.org/2014/10/17/rape-charge-uc-berkeley-student-dismissed/

These stories raise issues about how well campus authorities will be able to handle such events.  At Harvard, for example, there is a big brouhaha over an op ed written by a group of law school faculty suggesting that Harvard's sexual harassment/assault processes lack adequate due process:

http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/10/14/rethink-harvard-sexual-harassment-policy/HFDDiZN7nU2UwuUuWMnqbM/story.html; http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/10/14/harvard-law-professors-want-university-new-sexual-harassment-policy-changed/HZ72eaMcLgRgoq4DL9ZBOO/story.html; and http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/16/education/harvard-law-professors-back-away-from-sexual-misconduct-policy.html

We'll be watching the mid-November Regents meetings to see how these issues play out.  One suspects that the actual implementation of campus procedures will not go as smoothly as administrators hope.  As noted in a previous blog posting, it was encouraging that Chancellor Block has expressed skepticism over the value of yet another mandatory "training" program for faculty related to the sexual harassment/assault policy, online or otherwise.  See http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2014/10/good-idea.html