Friday, November 27, 2015

UCLA History: Arroyo

A good pre-World War II view of the arroyo that ran through the UCLA campus until filled in.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Note on Purported UCLA-Related Facebook Page

If you have been following the news, you will know that UCLA, along with many other universities, has a purported "White Student Union" Facebook page. Facebook apparently takes some of them down after complaints but not others. The UCLA version is still operating at this time. When you look at the UCLA version, it appears to be the product of some white supremacist group; there is little specifically about UCLA. Obviously, it is impossible to rule out the possibility of some UCLA student involvement, however.

I looked to see what the official reaction was at UCLA and found a Google reference to a UCLA statement, but it could be obtained only using the cache function. Below is what I found:

This is Google's cache of It is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on Nov 25, 2015 07:57:50 GMT. 

UCLA Administration Responds to White Student Union
November 24, 2015

Today UCLA Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Janina Montero released a statement in response to the creation of a UCLA White Student Union Facebook group.

The Facebook group is one of more than 30 that has appeared on college campuses around the country. Other schools include UC Berkeley, Stanford University, Penn State, New York University, and the University of Missouri.

Although the groups occur only in social media form, it is unclear whether they were actually created by students of the institutions. In fact similarities in the descriptions of each group has led many to believe, including UCLA administration, that this is the work of outside forces “intending to disrupt our community. 

Below is Vice Chancellor Janina Montero’s full statement:

Dear Student Leaders:

I wanted to alert you to the unfortunate recent appearance of a Facebook group called “UCLA White Student Union.”  We have been very concerned about it since it surfaced during the weekend and we are working to have the UCLA reference and logo removed from Facebook.

There is good reason to believe that this group is the work of people outside the UCLA community. In fact, nearly identical copies of groups also called “White Student Union” surfaced this past weekend at more than two dozen other institutions across the country with similar postings and language. There is also no registered student organization at UCLA with this name. The page appears to be designed to fuel conflict and provocation rather than to foster a serious and  constructive dialogue among students about issues of race. 

While UCLA upholds the First Amendment rights of our students and the public, we reject efforts to generate conflict and satirize student activists who have raised serious issues about unequal learning environments and hostile campus climate at institutions across the nation. Because this page misrepresents itself as a UCLA group, we have been working with Facebook to have the page taken down.

These are disturbing and upsetting actions, in this instance, clearly from some groups or individuals intending to disrupt our community. Please, know that we want to  work against these hurtful actions and welcome your involvement. Thank you for your outreach, vigilance, and engagement.

Affectionately, Janina
Janina Montero
Vice Chancellor – Student Affairs


We'll deviate from the Very Serious Issues usually taken up in this blog to feature a piece from the Boston Globe about Michael Dukakis who comes to UCLA each winter quarter and, among other things, co-teaches with ours truly.

You’ve carefully stuffed, cooked, and carved the turkey. You’ve sliced up all the extra pieces, packing them in tinfoil for leftovers. And you may think you’ve used every possible aspect of that turkey.
You’d be wrong. Michael Dukakis would very much like your turkey carcass.

In his tidy Brookline kitchen, the state’s former governor and onetime Democratic presidential nominee has had a quirky but endearing tradition legendary among family and friends. He collects Thanksgiving turkey carcasses to make soup for his extended family for the year to come. 

The man is renowned for his thriftiness — he drinks coffee bought in bulk at Costco, at 3 cents per cup — and he preserves every last element of the Thanksgiving dinner. Right down to the bone.
“Throwing out a turkey carcass is sinful. Absolutely sinful,” Dukakis says, in all seriousness. “It’s a terrible thing to do. There’s so much richness and goodness in a turkey carcass, God.”

So eager is Dukakis to gather turkey carcasses that he offers his home address (see full article; link below) for anyone who wants to drop one off. 

He preserves the carcasses, stuffing seven or eight of them in his freezer after each Thanksgiving, which on its own is quite a feat, requiring sharp scissors to get the bones down to a more reasonable size. 

“You cut them up. And wrap them up,” he says. “You can fit them in there as easily as possible. When the time comes, you pull them out.”

Throughout the course of the year, once every month or two, he removes one of the carcasses. He gets out a pot. He pours enough water to cover the bones, adds an onion, and lets it simmer for at least three hours. He cleans the meat off the bones, he adds in rice and any assortment of vegetables (“Peas are good. Carrots are good”). He heats it up, and relishes the smell that permeates the house on Perry Street. 

Listening to an 82-year-old man who has been eating this concoction since his mother made it for him as a boy, it’s hard to imagine anything tastier.

“There’s no better meal!” he says. “Healthy. And delicious.”

It’s all part of Dukakis’s aversion to waste — be it fat in the state budget, litter on the street, or turkey bones in the trash after Thanksgiving.

In some ways, this turkey tradition started in childhood.

“I used to love the after-feast turkey soup my mother made,” Dukakis recalls. “It was better than the feast.”

But really, it’s a tradition that he began within his own household two decades ago.

“It all started when my dear wife after 23 years of marriage — and she was a good cook, I must say — one day said, ‘That’s it, I’m not cooking any longer,’ ” he said. “Just like that. At the time the only thing I knew how to make was French toast. So I was confronted with a choice: Starve or start cooking. So I’ve been doing all the cooking the last 29 years...

Full story at

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Unfair advantage

Why Can’t We All Fight On Like Old USC? California's Public Universities Could Learn Some Things From the Rise of the Trojans

By Joe Mathews |

The University of Southern California football team is likely to lose to archrival UCLA this Thanksgiving weekend. But away from the gridiron, USC is on a decades-long winning streak that has become one of the most important stories in our state.

Over the past generation, USC has transformed itself from an easily mocked regional school for rich kids (“University of Spoiled Children”) into a global powerhouse. That growth has coincided with the decline or stagnation of other local entities, and turned USC into one of the most influential institutions in Southern California. And, through its successes, USC has demonstrated the growth that might be possible for California’s leading public universities—if they weren’t subject to the whims of our dysfunctional state government.

Central to the growth has been a strategy of capitalizing on USC’s flexibility as a private school to raise the school’s endowment and profile. Public universities are hamstrung in fundraising by the perception that they are primarily state-funded institutions (even though state funding is a small and declining fraction of their funding) and by the possibility that a big gift might come from an unpopular source. USC doesn’t have a meddling minority investor like the state government, and thus can fundraise as relentlessly as it likes. Its endowment, at nearly $5 billion, is one of the fastest-growing in the country.

And USC has spent aggressively—without the required disclosure and resulting second-guessing over big salaries common at our public universities—to recruit a more qualified and diverse faculty and student body. It now ranks among America’s elite universities by most measures, from the GPA of entering students to the amount of financial aid it offers (nearly $500 million annually). And, as public universities in California were forced to cut during recent budget crises and the Great Recession, USC accelerated its growth. 

Public universities are prisoners of annual budgets and short-term political thinking. Just consider how UC President Janet Napolitano’s thoughtful proposal for a multi-year enrollment and funding plan won her criticism last fall from virtually every politician and editorial board in the state. By contrast, USC President Max Nikias, building on the success of his predecessor Steve Sample, has pursued a long-term strategy of better connecting the university to all elements of life in Southern California. 

The Trojans have been expanding their campus and adjacent sphere of influence. USC has secured effective control of the L.A. Coliseum and is developing the nearby $650 million USC Village complex of housing, retail, and commercial space. USC has gobbled up institutions elsewhere in greater L.A. (from Verdugo Hills Hospital in Glendale and the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena), and sought a stronger presence in San Diego. USC has also been a big winner in two big L.A. trends—the rapid revival of downtown as a place for new residences and businesses (USC is just south of downtown) and the construction of new rail lines (Metro’s Expo line, which will reach Santa Monica next year, has three different stops along USC’s campus).

USC has never wielded more political influence, as our academically inclined mayor, Eric Garcetti, seeks to redesign the city’s basic systems. And with so much money and clout in a city where most people have very little, USC has become the place to go when you need help getting something done. One small example: When the daughter of Alfred Song, the first Korean-American to serve in the state legislature, struggled to find money for his memorial, USC arranged for the 10-foot-tall steel monument at the subway stop at Wilshire and Western.

More than a Trojan horse, USC is viewed across the region as the ultimate white knight. Many struggling L.A. institutions fantasize of being rescued by a USC takeover. These institutions include the L.A. Times, which, in my view, could find long-term viability by becoming a publication of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

At the same time it grows locally, USC has unabashedly prioritized global expansion, especially around the Pacific Rim. USC leads the nation in attracting foreign students, a fact it rightly celebrates. That’s in stark contrast to the University of California system, which has been bitterly criticized in the legislature and the media for adding foreign students, even though they pay higher tuition fees that effectively subsidize lower in-state tuition for Californians.

California’s public universities are desperate to hold onto their reputations for academic prestige, and thus can be quite traditional in their hiring and academic cultures. USC has few such hang-ups. The language of its strategic plan—especially its support of “entrepreneurial activities through flexible structures that allow faculty to move swiftly into new areas”—would trigger protests (“hey hey, ho ho, those corporate stooges have got to go”) in Santa Cruz. And USC has proudly opened well-funded and attention-getting institutes led by noted academicians like Dr. Dre and Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

In L.A., Trojans are notorious for arrogance (and for alumni networks more tightly knit than most Mafia families), so it won’t surprise you that USC has been accused of being obnoxious in pursuit of growth. USC’s recent effort to steal a major Alzheimer’s research project from UC San Diego was so brazen that the University of California sued; the dispute has produced headlines and claims and counterclaims of conspiracy and bad faith. And indeed, as it catapults itself from mediocrity into the nation’s top-tier of private institutions of higher learning, USC will be facing the same questions now confronting the Stanfords and Harvards of the world—questions about whether its success contributes to widening class divides and inequality, and whether it should be doing more for those who have been left behind by poor high schools and circumstances.

I’ll be wearing a UCLA T-shirt this weekend for reasons personal (I grew up going to Bruin games at the Rose Bowl) and professional (UCLA is a vital partner of Zócalo Public Square, which produces this column). But I do root for USC as a powerful example for California. Yes, our public universities have found ways to remain excellent despite all the cuts and constraints. But just imagine how much more they could do if the state stopped its cuts and meddling, and allowed our universities to fight on with all the flexibility the Trojans enjoy.

Column appeared in Zócalo Public Square and various newspapers. See

Reminder of Things We Have Noted in the Past

From the UCLA Legislative Assembly minutes of Nov. 5:

...Impact on UCLA (of the budget deal for UC reached by the Committee of Two):

Due to rebenching, UCLA will receive almost none of the base funding from the state over the next two years.*

UCLA will only see revenue from the enrollment of 600 resident undergraduate students which would generate $3 million in state funds and $5 million in tuition revenue. This would require the campus to increase resources such as faculty, classrooms, and other necessary elements to accommodate the increased enrollment...

*Presumably, the sentence refers to the increment to base funding.

Inadvertent consequence

From Inside Higher Ed:

In an attempt to starve out a controversial student publication without violating the First Amendment, the student government at the University of California at San Diego voted last week to cease any funding of student media. [Editorial Note: Apparently, ALL student media are included.] The move -- which First Amendment experts said does not pass constitutional muster, despite the student government's maneuvering to avoid targeting a specific group -- came after UCSD administrators condemned the most controversial of the university's publications amid student protests about racism on campus. At a recent Black Lives Matter protest on campus, black students cited the student-run humor magazine, the Koala, for content they view as racist...

Full story at

UCLA History: Thirties

The UCLA campus in 1938