Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Cautionary Tale: Follow Up

The courtroom is down the hall
Yesterday, we posted about the investigation by Northwestern U of a professor accused of writing a column that offended some students who filed a Title IX complaint.* The Chronicle of Higher Ed ran a column by the accused prof about the procedure that was set in motion by her university. (Links in our original posting.) We noted concerns at UC about the process being set up to deal with complaints concerning sexual assault and harassment. The Regents have been assured by UC President Napolitano that there would be appropriate due process in whatever is being created. One might take that assurance to mean that nothing like the reported Northwestern events could take place at UC. It might be noted that unlike Northwestern, UC is a public institution subject to various constitutional requirements as well as the state Public Records Act. Any kind of kangaroo court procedure would likely be challenged quickly in the external court system.

The Chronicle now has published readers' comments: Its Facebook link to those comments suggests their general tone:
Our posting yesterday indicated that UCOP is aware of the Chronicle tale and so it can presumably draw the appropriate lessons and take steps to avoid such events at UC.

Back-and-Forth on the Withdrawn Article

Some blog readers may have been following the back-and-forth regarding an article that was withdrawn from from Science after allegations of falsified data. An author of that article who has been blamed for the incident is a UCLA grad student. The Daily Bruin has the latest iteration:

A UCLA graduate student accused of falsifying data in a study released a response Friday refuting a report by three researchers who found irregularities in the study. In the original study, Michael LaCour and his co-author, Columbia University professor Donald Green, found evidence suggesting that conversations with gay canvassers can change voter attitudes on same-sex marriage. The study was published in the journal Science in December, and was retracted by the journal Thursday after a request by Green... LaCour released a 23-page response to their criticisms Friday that included four claims against the researchers’ report. In the response, LaCour claimed his study met the replication standard and followed institutional policy in destroying the raw survey data... In the acknowledgements of his study, LaCour listed the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law as a funding source for his study. Lauren Jow, a spokeswoman for the Williams Institute, said the institute was not aware it was listed as a source and did not provide funding. In his response, LaCour said he did receive a grant offer from the Williams Institute but did not accept the funds. LaCour admitted the Ford Foundation grant, which he also listed as a funding source, did not exist. "I take full responsibility for errors in the design, implementation and data collection regarding the field experiments and panel survey reported in LaCour and Green,” LaCour said in the report. “I also take full responsibility and apologize for misrepresenting survey incentives and funding in LaCour and Green." In an interview with The New York Times, LaCour said he lied about his funding sources because some colleagues doubted his work and he wanted to give more credibility in his study.

Full story at

The back-and-forth on the Science article has attracted both news coverage and editorial comment:

Still drawing a blank on the Regents meeting of May 27

We continue to report on the (lack of) progress of the Regents in "archiving" the meeting of the Committee on Investments of May 27. So far, we are literally drawing a blank when we attempt to access the streaming version of the meeting. As we have noted umpteen times, the Regents' version of "archiving" is preservation for only one year. For that reason, we have been archiving the audio of the meetings indefinitely since history lasts longer than one year. It's a laborious process since recording the audio can only be done in real time, i.e., 1 hour of meeting time requires 1 hour of recording time. But we can't even do that if the Regents' website isn't operating.

Anyway, as of 7 am this morning, there is nothing to see:

Friday, May 29, 2015

Cautionary Tale

UCOP distributes a daily summary (with links) of news items related to higher ed and UC. A typical listing consists of excerpts from the article, editorial, or op ed plus a link to the original source. In some cases, even if access to the original source would normally require a paid subscription, the item - apart from the usual excerpt - is reproduced in full, presumably because someone has decided it merits special attention (and presumably with permission).

In today's email (screenshot of its masthead above) there is the following excerpt from the Chronicle of Higher Education concerning events at Northwestern University which is also reproduced further down in the email in full:

OP-ED: My Title IX Inquisition

(Chronicle of Higher Education) Laura Kipnis*

When I first heard that students at my university had staged a protest over an essay I’d written in The Chronicle Review about sexual politics on campus — and that they were carrying mattresses and pillows — I was a bit nonplussed. For one thing, mattresses had become a symbol of student-on-student sexual-assault allegations, and I’d been writing about the new consensual-relations codes governing professor-student dating. Also, I’d been writing as a feminist. And I hadn’t sexually assaulted anyone. The whole thing seemed symbolically incoherent.

According to our campus newspaper, the mattress-carriers were marching to the university president’s office with a petition demanding "a swift, official condemnation" of my article. One student said she’d had a "very visceral reaction" to the essay; another called it "terrifying." I’d argued that the new codes infantilized students while vastly increasing the power of university administrators over all our lives, and here were students demanding to be protected by university higher-ups from the affront of someone’s ideas, which seemed to prove my point.

The president announced that he’d consider the petition.

Still, I assumed that academic freedom would prevail.

… Things seemed less amusing when I received an email from my university’s Title IX coordinator informing me that two students had filed Title IX complaints against me on the basis of the essay and "subsequent public statements" (which turned out to be a tweet), and that the university would retain an outside investigator to handle the complaints.

… I’d plummeted into an underground world of secret tribunals and capricious, medieval rules, and I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone about it.

For those with a subscription, the link is

New York Magazine picked up the story and it has a link within its article that provides full access to the item:
Click on the link in the sentence: "Now, Kipnis reports, the University has undertaken a Title IX investigation against her on the basis of her column and a subsequent tweet about it."

There is also a story on the Washington Post website which features the same link:

If you don't have a subscription to the Chronicle of Higher Ed, or if the links above to the full op ed don't work for you, yours truly will forward the UCOP News Clips email to you on request.

We have noted concerns about current efforts to create a UC process to deal with charges of sexual assault and harassment. The Regents have been assured by UC President Napolitano that there will be due process, etc. However, in reproducing the above article in full, perhaps someone at UCOP shares those concerns. Suffice it to say, what the Chronicle article describes should not be a possible outcome of the new process, whatever it turns out to be. We're glad that there is some sensitivity at UCOP that anything like what is described should not happen.

Still nothing

Our attempts to archive the Regents' Committee on Investments meeting of May 27 are still producing nothing but a blank screen (as of 7:15 am this morning). Tried Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer to get the steaming video. The iPhone version is also not working.

Let's hope the governor - with his pet interest in having UC material online - doesn't find out.

All we can say to the Regents is that they are supposed to be on screen:

We've heard of bang for the buck...

...but this item (below) could be called buck from the bang: (Sorry. Couldn't resist.)

A co-creator and the cast and crew of the hit television show “The Big Bang Theory” have endowed a scholarship fund at UCLA to provide financial aid to undergraduate students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. The sitcom, which recently completed its eighth season, follows the lives of a group of young physicists...

Full story at

Thursday, May 28, 2015

We'd Like to Archive the May 27 Regents Committee on Investments Meeting But...

...the Regents' website is producing a blank screen (on Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer). Tried the iPhone version...
...but it didn't work, either. ["The requested URL was not found on this server."]

The folks in Oakland have been alerted. Meanwhile, the Bruin has a summary of the meeting: