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Saturday, February 28, 2015

You'll be shocked...

...to learn that voters when polled don't like tuition increases at UC. But that shocker is the result of a recent USC Dornsife poll as reported by the LA Times.

Now there is something a big unseemly about a USC poll on UC tuition. How much does USC charge? But we can put that issue aside, can't we? 

Anyway:

...Among those surveyed, 57% favored the governor's approach, compared to 32% who favored increasing state funds or raising student tuition. Support for Brown's view was consistent across all political, racial and economic groups...

and

...In the poll, 53% of voters said they would be willing to have fewer slots for in-state students at the universities if that would help avoid a tuition hike for Californians, compared to 31% who favored a possible tuition increase to help maximize places for in-state students...

Seems like there is some contradiction between the 57% who favor Brown's proposal and the 53% who favor a proposal that isn't Brown's.  But you can find the article about the poll at http://www.latimes.com/local/politics/la-me-pol-poll-tuition-20150228-story.html

Polls definitely have the power to produce shocking and explosive findings!
video


The Future Lies Ahead and He May Be a Member of the Regents

The year 2018 seems far away. However, it happens to be a gubernatorial election year. We now have a candidate, one already gathering money for the campaign, as an ex officio member of the Board of Regents: Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom.* As is often pointed out, lieutenant governors in California don't have much to do. But they don't run as a slate with the governor and so are independent agents. Newsom is an independent agent relative to Gov. Brown. Unlike the regents Brown recently appointed, Newsom is on the Board independently, not because Brown wants him there.

Anecdote: Back in the day when Republicans could achieve statewide office and when Jerry Brown did his first iteration as governor, Brown had a Republican lieutenant governor, Mike Curb. In 1980, when Brown was running for president and had to leave the state to campaign, Curb would take advantage of a provision in the state constitution that made him acting governor whenever Brown was out of California. He would take executive actions as acting governor that Brown would have to try and unravel when he returned.

Newsom regularly appears at Regents meetings and has been trying of late to make a name for himself regarding the issue of UC coach salaries. He likes to distinguish himself from Brown, for example by opposing Brown's high speed rail project. Whether he will be the next governor is unknown at this point, but it is a possibility.

At the moment, Brown and Napolitano are negotiating a deal regarding tuition and funding. A deal may be reached - or not. But cultivating Newsom could be important in the long run, regardless of what happens. If a deal is reached, Newsom might oppose it, putting on his I'm-not-Jerry-Brown hat. If a deal isn't reached, he might propose something of his own. Whatever happens, it would be good to keep things as cordial as possible with him.

Right, Janet?
video
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*http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article11352641.html

Friday, February 27, 2015

Higher Ed Report from LAO

Pop goes the LAO
The LAO has issued a report on state higher ed funding in the governor's proposed budget.  Much of the report deals with CSU and community colleges.  The components on UC, as in the past, express the LAO’s dislike for the governor’s habit of adding a lump sum to the UC budget without regard to some measure of performance (such as enrollment).  Instead of the governor’s $140 for next year (conditioned on a tuition freeze), LAO prefers an inflation adjustment which it puts at 2.2% and says equates to $126 million. [p. 4] (LAO’s base to which the 2.2% is applied seems to be tuition plus state funding and omits some other state funding.)  LAO suggests a freeze on both the current in-state and out-of-state enrollment for UC. [p. 3]  Indeed, it asserts at one point that UC is currently admitting more than the old Master Plan target of the top eighth.  It suggests that the legislature set tuition as a share of costs (presumably as an alternative to a tuition deal with the governor). [p. 4] LAO suggests that faculty are overpaid relative to other public research universities (not the comparison-8 universities which are half private) [p. 50] and that UC costs/student are higher than such public universities. [p. 49]  It suggests the legislature might set the division between teaching and research since costs would go down if teaching loads went up. [p. 4] In reviewing UC’s pension, the report notes that recent changes regarding state pensions (but not UC’s earlier changes) cap pension payments at $117,000. [p. 51]

LAO report at http://lao.ca.gov/reports/2015/budget/higher-education/hed-budget-analysis-022715.pdf

All of these matters are phrased in terms of things that might be considered or inferred. You can view the wording as intended to be just some interesting observations and ideas that are among many alternatives, mere possibilities. Or you can regard the wording as weasel language that hides what would amount to a major, major change in the standing of UC, its governance, and its longstanding role in the state. 

Down the Hall

No, I don't know what it is. But you can find it down a hallway in the 200 Medical Plaza building on the second floor.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Regulatory Report

A report has been released to a U.S. Senate committee that complains about costs of excess federal regulation of higher ed. A task force had been set up by a bipartisan group of senators to study the issue.  The California Institute describes the release of the report in its Feb. 26 online bulletin:

On Tuesday, February 24, 2015, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee convened for its first hearing regarding higher education. The hearing, entitled "Recalibrating Regulation of Colleges and Universities: A Report from the Task Force on Government Regulation of Higher Education," outlined recommendations to facilitate revision of inefficient and costly federal rules and regulations faced by institutions of higher education. Witnesses included William E. Kirwan, Chancellor, University of Maryland, Adelphi, MD and Nicholas S. Zeppos, Chancellor, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN. The task force consisted of sixteen presidents and chancellors. "Through the task force's work, we have learned that many regulations are well developed, address critically important issues, and provide appropriate means of institutional accountability. On the other hand, we have also discovered that too many regulations are poorly framed, confusing, overly complex, ill-conceived, or poorly executed," testified Mr. Zeppos...

Source: http://www.calinst.org/bul2/b2207.shtml 

The report itself is at http://www.help.senate.gov/imo/media/Regulations_Task_Force_Report_2015_FINAL.pdf

Note that while there is likely to be agreement with the general concept that excessive regulation is costly, the specifics of regulations may spark some disagreement about what is necessary and what isn't. For example, there is a citation of the regulation below as unnecessary:

Vaccination policies. Institutions must disclose their vaccination policies in order to be eligible for Title IV funding.43 While arguably related to student health, information about an institution’s policy does not make students any safer, and is unlikely to be a consideration for any prospective students or parents when they select a college.  (pages 30 and 57)

That regulation may have seemed burdensome when the report was being put together.  It may be viewed differently in the aftermath of more recent events.

Complex Tale

Inside Higher Ed today carries a link to a complex tale contained in a Bloomberg News story involving espionage, the FBI, and the Confucius Institute at the U of South Florida:  https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2015/02/26/fbi-and-professor.  (The Bloomberg story is at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-25/sex-lies-and-espionage-did-a-professor-spy-for-the-fbi-.)

The Institutes have been controversial in the U.S. because of their link to the Chinese government. In the U of South Florida case, however, there appears to be an attempt by the FBI to use an Institute connection for info gathering in China. Up to this point, to the extent there has been international controversy about the U of South Florida, it has been in connection with conflict in the Middle East.

UCLA's Confucius Institute is currently listed as being managed by a board chaired by EVC Scott Waugh. It also has an advisory committee chaired by Vice Provost of Intellectual Property and Industry Relations Kathryn Atchison whose background is in dentistry.  The Institute basically seems to be in a reporting relationship to Murphy Hall.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Listen to the Feb. 20, 2015 Meeting of the Regents' Committee on Investments

We now have archived the audio of the Feb. 20 meeting of the UC Regents' Committee on Investments.  In the past, there has been little use of the public comments period in these meetings of the Committee, but this time there were anti-fossil fuel and anti-Israel speakers. A demonstration occurred which was largely removed from the official recording. Afterwards, there was discussion of various environmental investment issues. Former financial officer Peter Taylor attended the meeting as a guest and pushed, as in the past, for an emphasis on earning the assumed 7.5% for the pension plan. Returns on the pension and endowment funds were reviewed. Although past discussions of the endowment's performance have focused on its performance relative to internally-designated benchmarks, the issue of its performance relative to those of other major universities was discussed by CIO Jagdeep Bachler. In the past, such discussion - when it occurred - tended to be dismissed. However, relative to other major university endowments' returns, UC doesn't look so good. Bachler said he would be working on this matter. He indicated that in the past, the portfolio composition of the endowments was viewed as something of a residual of the pension and that approach should change. It wasn't clear what in practice that change in approach would mean. When it came to the more liquid TRIP and STIP funds, there seemed to be general agreement that UC had too much in these low-yielding liquidity-oriented funds. Although it wasn't mentioned, that observation could pave the way for addition movement of monies from those funds into the pension to deal with its underfunding.

A link to the audio is below:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How About a Time Out for Now?

We have suggested in prior blog posts that it may be time for the Regents and UC administration to create more separation between official UC and student government so that when offensive behaviors in the latter occur, the university is not held directly responsible by the external world.* Much of the problem of late has occurred in the context of various anti-Israel divestment resolutions and statements at the campus level at UC, including at UCLA. Now posters have appeared at UCLA (and apparently at other non-UC campuses) which the anti-Israel group finds offensive.** It's interesting that the most recent systemwide campus climate survey really didn't touch on this particular matter, but that fact is apparently consistent with more general findings at other universities.***

The temptation from the administrative perspective is to try to stay in the background and hope that the problem will pass. Unfortunately, when it comes to the Middle East, even when problems pass, they are more like painful kidney stones than permanent fixes - and new ones appear.  So while greater separation would be advisable in the longer term, in the interim UC and UCLA have a de facto involvement that at this late date can't be avoided. As a second best for now, therefore, UC officialdom might try and arrange a time-out on passing resolutions on world affairs. Such resolutions are not of day-to-day concern to most students, don't affect Regental investment policy, but do produce antipathy for the university at a time when public support is needed in the current conflict over tuition and budget proposals.
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*http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2015/02/time-to-go-separate-ways.html [Links to various news sources through Feb. 18 are included in this reference.]
**http://dailybruin.com/2015/02/24/four-other-universities-report-offensive-posters-targeting-sjp/
***http://www.brandeiscenter.com/images/uploads/articleuploads/trinity-Anti-Semitism.pdf
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UPDATE: Chancellor Block emailed the statement below today. While it calls for mutual tolerance, it doesn't suggest a cooling-off period (time out) as suggested above.

To the Campus Community:


I have been troubled by recent incidents of bias on campuses across our nation. Sadly, UCLA is not immune to these occurrences.

At a recent Undergraduate Students Association Council meeting, a few council members unfairly questioned the fitness of a USAC Judicial Board applicant because of her Jewish identity. Another upsetting incident occurred last weekend when inflammatory posters on our campus implied that Students for Justice in Palestine was a terrorist organization.

We should all be glad that, ultimately, the judicial board applicant was unanimously confirmed for her position and that the posters were taken down by members of our community. We are pleased that the students who initially objected to the Jewish student’s appointment apologized, and we are reassured that the UCLA Police Department is vigorously investigating the matter of the posters.

Yet we should also be concerned that these incidents took place at all. No student should feel threatened that they would be unable to participate in a university activity because of their religion. And no student should be compared to a terrorist for holding a political opinion. These disturbing episodes are very different, but they both are rooted in stereotypes and assumptions.

Political debate can stir passionate disagreements. The views of others may make us uncomfortable. That may be unavoidable. But to assume that every member of a group can’t be impartial or is motivated by hatred is intellectually and morally unacceptable. When hurtful stereotypes — of any group — are wielded to delegitimize others, we are all debased.

A first-rate intellectual community must hold itself to higher standards.

Even in the heat of debate, we must cultivate the skill and sensitivity to express opinions without belittling others or losing sight of their humanity. Speech that stigmatizes or tries to intimidate individuals or targeted groups — even if it is constitutionally protected — does not promote the responsible debate essential for a healthy democracy. It is insufficient to reserve empathy only for those who look or act or think like we do. We must do better than that.

As Bruins, we need to be thinkers and leaders who can see one another without prejudice and can engage one another in a manner that goes beyond slogans and is above slurs.

While any incident of bias against any member of our campus community saddens us, and we understand that these incidents may occur again, we will always take appropriate action if the UCLA Principles of Community or any laws are violated. And we will do everything we can to support a healthy environment for everyone in our community. If you feel you have been subjected to an incident of bias or hate, resources are available.

UCLA will not be defined by intolerance. We will strive to create a community that will honor the dignity of all its members even if we struggle with one another’s ideas. We will strive to create a community in which all of us can fully take part in campus life and express our views and identities, safe from intimidation, threat or harm. Let us all work together to do the good work of creating that community.

Sincerely,

Gene D. Block
Chancellor


UPDATE: "...Conservative writer and activist David Horowitz admitted to orchestrating the (poster) incident."  From http://dailybruin.com/2015/02/26/editorial-communities-unified-response-to-offensive-posters-a-welcome-surprise/

Monday, February 23, 2015

Update on Nada

Earlier in the day, we noted the problems with the Regental archiving of the most recent meeting of the Committee on Finance.  Tonight, the iPhone version was still not operating. See the scan on the left.  However, yours truly was able to get at least the start of the video to play in one PC browser.

Tomorrow or soon thereafter, therefore, we hope to be able to make a complete recording for our indefinite archiving (as opposed to the Regents' one-year "archive").

Still Nada at the Regents Archives

Yes, nada (as above) is what you still get when you look for the recording of the Regents Committee on Investments last Friday - at least as of 8 am this morning.  Yours truly continued to try Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome (as well as the link for iPhones) and got a blank screen.  He notified the Regents over the weekend about the problem.  It turns out that the meeting, at least as described by the Daily Bruin, was more exciting than most sessions of this committee.

Student protesters disrupted a University of California investments planning meeting Friday at UCLA, calling for divestment from fossil fuel companies and companies some say are involved in human rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The students also protested against the UC’s plan to increase tuition. The UC Board of Regents Committee on Investments met to discuss the University’s sustainable investment plan and to review the performance of its retirement plan, pension fund and working capital investments. As part of the University’s sustainability efforts announced in September, the regents analyzed a proposed environmental, social and governance investment framework that would integrate climate change and other risks into its investment decision-making process. About 17 students from Fossil Free UC, Students for Justice in Palestine and the United Auto Workers Local 2865 union, which represents academic student workers, started the protest during public comment at the beginning of the session. The regents temporarily adjourned the meeting as protesters were cleared out of the room...

Full story at http://dailybruin.com/2015/02/23/student-protesters-call-for-divestment-at-regents-investment-meeting-2/

We continue to question Regents' policy of one-year (rather than indefinite) archiving of its meetings, which now are not even posted effectively on a timely basis.  How about calchannel.com as the archivist?  Calchannel.com preserves such official meetings as legislative hearings and webcasts them live.  According to Wikipedia, while "nada" means nothing in Spanish, it means "hope" in Croatian.  Can we apply the Croatian interpretation and hope that some change in regental policy will occur?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

UC History: Irvine

Photo shows UC President Clark Kerr and regents at site of new UC-Irvine campus in 1961.

You might note that we have no audio or video of this older event.  We also have no audio or video of the most recent regents event: the meeting last Friday of the Committee on Investments. The streamed recordings are not working.  Yours truly tried Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome as well as a separate link that is supposed to work with iPhones.  Nada.  The authorities have been notified.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Food for Thought


It's not surprising that there is a lot of junk food sold on campus. It's a bit more surprising to see what's in the vending machines in the medical buildings. The photos above were taken in the 200 Medical Plaza Building. Even the "all natural" machine selection doesn't look all that healthy.

Friday, February 20, 2015

More on wider separation

We continue to point out that the stream of divestment resolutions coming out of student government suggests that UC needs to change its connections with those activities and widen the separation between the two. The current situation ranges from offensive to humorous, but each iteration reflects on the university because of the official connection and recognition of student government as speaking for all students. Were student government treated as any other extracurricular activity, its participants could do and say what they want without a need for university officials to explain/critique. And external public support for UC, very much needed at present, would be less at risk.

Below is the latest example of the current problem, this time from Berkeley:

The ASUC Senate unanimously passed a bill urging UC Berkeley, the UC Berkeley Foundation and the University of California to divest from the Republic of Turkey and an affiliate institution Wednesday night. The bill cites the Republic of Turkey’s denial of what many countries recognize as a genocide of the Armenian people beginning in 1915, as well as what the bill calls a “campaign of Armenian cultural erasure,” as its impetus for divesting funds. The bill calls for divestment from both the Republic of Turkey and the Export Credit Bank of Turkey, of which the Turkish treasury is the sole shareholder. The UCLA student government unanimously passed a similar measure last month...

Full story at http://www.dailycal.org/2015/02/19/asuc-senate-passes-divestment-republic-turkey-unanimous-vote/ 

See also http://dailybruin.com/2015/02/20/submission-usac-members-apologize-to-jewish-community/

Next Regents Cycle Begins Today

Did you know that the next cycle of Regents' meetings actually begins today at 1:30 pm? The Committee on Investments of the Regents starts the otherwise March cycle of sessions with its usual review of investment performance of the portfolio.

The agenda and info on streaming is at:
http://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/meetings/agendas/feb15.html

As always, yours truly will eventually archive the audio of this meeting.

Listen to the Regents Meeting of Jan. 22, 2015


As promised, but with a delay, you can hear the Regents meeting of Jan. 22, 2015. The Regents only archive their recordings of meetings for one year (for no good reason). Thus, in order to record the meetings for longer archiving, yours truly must do it in real time, i.e., one hour of meeting time takes one hour of recording time.  However, we now have the Jan. 22 meeting which was notable for a de facto rejection of a policy that would gear coach pay (very marginally) to academic achievement.  The degree was so slight that the Regents chose to send the proposal back to UCOP for reworking. 

The session began with public comments featuring complaints about the tuition/funding plan, a warning of a (then) upcoming one-day doctors’ strike in student health services, complaints about nonunion pay and conditions, and a push for fossil fuel divestment.  A brief demonstration followed. (The sound is cut off.)

The Regents approved a modified budget for the DOE labs after a major fine reduced payments to be received.

During discussion of the governor’s budget proposal for UC, it was noted that UC pension debt was listed in the proposal as a state liability although no money was allocated to deal with it.

There were reports on mental health provisions available to students and on Ebola preparations.

Various high exec pay decisions elicited complaints but were approved.

As noted above, the big news item that came from this session involved a UCOP proposal that was billed as linking coach pay to academic achievement. (The discussion starts around 2:13 at the link below.) Doubts had been expressed about this matter the previous day. Lt. Gov. Newsom, who had pushed back against an earlier UCOP proposal on coach pay at a prior Regents meeting, criticized the new plan as doing nothing. Gov. Brown was less vocal but also voted against endorsing the plan.  Athletic administrators, including from UCLA, really didn’t respond directly to the criticism but instead tended to say they were doing a good job already in dealing with the issue.  

The meeting concluded with President Napolitano reporting on various awards received at UC.

A link to the audio of the meeting is below.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A rank smell in public

A new ranking of public universities doesn't put UC on top.  Berkeley is #5, UCLA is #6, UC-San Diego is #15. We don't put much faith is such rankings since weights and factors used tend to be arbitrary. But this one may get attention in California, simply because of the timing and the fact that the semi-privatized U of Michigan is on top. The survey comes out at the same time that UC and the governor are negotiating over state budget contributions and tuition and the legislature is trying to get into the game with hearings.

The premise is always that UC is the number one public institution. Now there is at least a headline suggesting otherwise.

You can find the survey at http://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/news/2015/02/12/2015-rankings-of-u-s-public-colleges.html

For what it is worth, a statement of methodology is at http://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/news/2015/02/12/how-the-tbj-public-college-rankings-were.html

Go Figure

UC has released a report on per-student costs, summarized on the chart above. Apart from general puff, the report goes into the methodology used to divide up spending. As has been noted on this blog before, there is inevitably much arbitrariness in any such division. Is the library for teaching or research or service? The electric bill? The phone bill? Mail delivery? Landscaping? Administrator salaries? Can you precisely divide graduate education from undergraduate when grad students are employed as TAs in undergrad courses? Students are engaged in research projects. Is that engagement teaching or research? Etc., etc. Actually, the legislature really isn't hung up on the figures and methodology. It is standard practice nowadays to say that more "transparency" is needed when you don't like something (like tuition increases, for example). So now the legislature has a set of numbers. Will they be seen as transparent enough? Probably not. But at the moment, what the legislature really wants is not lessons in accounting or more charts and graphs. It wants more of a role in the budget/tuition negotiations currently underway between the governor and Napolitano.

You can find the report at http://www.ucop.edu/operating-budget/_files/legreports/14-15/efifinallegrpt-2-17-15.pdf

Goodwill Gesture

By making a goodwill gesture, UC prez Napolitano puts the onus on the governor to reciprocate. The move is also timed with legislative hearings on the UC budget:

The University of California will not raise tuition for the upcoming summer sessions, UC President Janet Napolitano announced in her lecture at USC Wednesday. “Because (budget) discussions are still ongoing, and because the Legislature is still at work putting together the state budget, I am announcing here today that UC will not implement a previously approved tuition increase,” Napolitano said in the lecture. She said the University is doing this as a good-faith gesture with respect to ongoing negotiations, and to free students from uncertainty and unpredictability. In November, the UC Board of Regents passed a proposal to increase tuition by up to 5 percent annually for the next five years if there isn’t a sufficient level of state funding. According to the proposal, the tuition increase would begin in summer 2015. This delays the potential tuition increase to fall quarter, although Napolitano said she hopes the hike can be avoided...

Full story at http://dailybruin.com/2015/02/18/napolitano-postpones-proposed-tuition-increase-until-fall-quarter/

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

FYI

The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) has prepared the chart above.  Figures are inflation-adjusted, presumably in 2014-15 dollars.  The full document is at http://www.lao.ca.gov/handouts/education/2015/Overview-of-UC-Expenditure-021815.pdf.

Time to Go Separate Ways?

Some blog readers may recall the “Asians in the Library” episode at UCLA in 2011.  A UCLA student ranted about Asians in the library on a YouTube video – apparently to get attention as part of some venture on the Internet.  Chancellor Block then made a counter-video on YouTube, condemning the rant.* Of course, the student who did the rant-video – although enrolled at UCLA at the time – was not speaking in any official capacity for the university.  No one could hold the university officially responsible for her remarks.  But at that time, UC and UCLA officials seemed to feel responsible for everything that occurred in some relation to the university which could result in an unfortunate “campus climate” and could tarnish relations with the external world.

In an earlier post, we noted that matters that go on in student government – in contrast to the Asians in the Library rant – do have a formal connection to UCLA and UC. Student government is recognized as an official body representing all students. We suggested that rather than try to apologize for unfortunate events in student government that have occurred of late, mainly in the context of conflicts between anti-Israel and pro-Israel student politicians, it might be best to loosen the connection between student government and official UC and UCLA.**  It is the official status of student government that makes UC and UCLA in some sense formally responsible for what goes on there.  

At present, given its budgetary problems with the state and governor, UC needs friends in the political world and needs general public goodwill.  Folks in the legislature, for example, are currently contemplating steps to erode UC’s longstanding constitutional autonomy.*** Such erosion would be a Bad Thing. The student government events described below in the Daily Bruin seem unlikely to promote such needed external friendship; they suggests why UC/UCLA and student government need a greater degree of separation:

Last week, I attended a council meeting to support my roommate, sorority sister and best friend, Rachel Beyda, as she went through the last step of being confirmed by the council as an appointed justice to the Judicial Board of the Undergraduate Students Association Council. I greatly admire Rachel’s academic success and the passion and determination she has demonstrated toward her goal of becoming a lawyer. I have seen her accrue immense leadership skills and experience in the legal field, both at UCLA, as the current law clerk for the Judicial Board and beyond. Therefore, as I ascended the stairs to Kerckhoff 417, I incorrectly assumed the confirmation of Rachel’s appointment would be quick and simple. Rachel had been unanimously approved by the Appointments Review Committee consisting of three council members before she flawlessly introduced herself to the council. However, the first question directed at her by General Representative 3 Fabienne Roth was an attack on Rachel’s ability to be a justice based on her involvement in the Jewish community. At President Avinoam Baral’s insistence, the question was phrased slightly more considerately by Transfer Student Representative Negeen Sadeghi-Movahed, but this first question set the tone. Rachel finished the interview, making two important points: first, anyone qualified for the position would be a critical thinker who is knowledgeable about campus issues and therefore, has his or her own opinions and second, she has no significant political affiliations. Furthermore, she demonstrated an understanding of what actually having a conflict of interest means and acknowledged that a justice should remove herself from the decision-making process under those circumstances. Rachel was asked to leave the room for council discussion. What followed was a disgusting 40 minutes of what can only be described as unequivocal anti-Semitism during which some of our council members resorted to some of the oldest accusations against Jews, including divided loyalties and dishonesty…

Full story at http://dailybruin.com/2015/02/18/submission-usac-members-should-apologize-for-discriminatory-act/
 
Chancellor Block could make another YouTube response video about the event described above.  But in the end there is one key difference.  The Asians in the Library YouTube rant he condemned in his 2011 video response was not an official university activity.  Were he to make such a video response, or issue a similar statement today, about the issue described above, he could not say the same for student government.  In its current format, student government is not just another extracurricular activity, let alone something separate from the university.
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***http://www.dailycal.org/2015/02/17/state-senators-propose-amendment-increase-state-legislative-control-uc/  
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UPDATE: The administration released a statement in the form of a letter to the editor:

I am always reluctant to comment on student processes to avoid even the appearance of influence. However, I want to applaud the Daily Bruin’s fair and principled editorial, “Objections to USAC Judicial Board appointment discriminatory,” published on Feb.12, that took to task the questioning of the qualifications of a candidate for the Undergraduate Students Association Council Judicial Board specifically based on her Jewish religious and personal identity. What would we do if a candidate was questioned because she or he was African American or undocumented, and issues related to diversity, immigration or affirmative action were expected to arise? I hope all Bruins recognize the need to rededicate ourselves to the work of embodying our True Bruin values and our commitment to the broader goal of sustaining a multiethnic democracy that respects the dignity of all its members. I believe our community is more generous, thoughtful and inclusive than this particular incident would suggest.

Janina Montero, vice chancellor for student affairs

Source: http://dailybruin.com/2015/02/17/letter-to-the-editor-bruins-must-remember-to-sustain-inclusive-diverse-student-government/

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Opposing Strategies

We have commented before on the opposing strategies of UC and CSU. While UC kicked up a fuss with state politicos because of its tuition plan, CSU quietly limited enrollment. UC has also kicked up a fuss because of its admission of out-of-state students. Now comes word that a CSU campus will limit enrollment of (California) students from outside its local area. [See below.] Somehow, what CSU does bothers nobody (except students rejected). No one seems to see. At UC on the other hand, we get a Committee of Two, legislative hearings, op eds, etc.

One of California’s largest public universities may tighten admission requirements, as Cal State Northridge proposed Monday reducing its enrollment by 1 percent. Stricter academic standards for nonlocal incoming freshmen, undergraduate transfer students and graduate students were put forth by the school. About 300 students per year would be turned away, a CSUN spokeswoman said. The increased burden would make test scores, transcripts and other admission criteria harder for students outside the school’s local service area, mostly the San Fernando Valley, and for local students seeking to major in popular subjects. Those subjects are Kinesiology, Music, Psychology and Cinema and Television Arts. The university president called the reduction “impaction.” ...

Full story at http://www.dailynews.com/article/20150216/NEWS/150219609

Apparently, if you're invisible, you can do anything:




Monday, February 16, 2015

Empty Gesture?

...In hearings beginning this week, the Assembly will apply the principle of zero-based budgeting to the UC budget. Through the zero-based budgeting approach, every line item of an organization’s budget must be approved, rather than only changes from the previous year. This allows for a thorough public discussion of the items contained in an organization’s budget, and it gives the agency the opportunity to show that each dollar is being spent for the intended purpose and in the right way. Under the leadership of the Assembly Budget Committee, these hearings will give UC the opportunity to show efficiencies it has made – and to identify further efficiencies needed. The hearings will also give the Legislature an opportunity to scrutinize whether each dollar that could be spent holding tuition at its current level would be better spent on a different UC priority, as UC President Janet Napolitano suggests...

From an op ed by Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, speaker of the California Assembly, and Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, minority leader of the Assembly at http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/soapbox/article9912773.html

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/soapbox/article9912773.html#storylink=cpy

What does it mean? Zero-based budgeting is a nice-sounding concept that came along in the 1960s.  For most ongoing programs at the federal, state, or local levels, it really turned out to mean, well, zero. What it means in this context is that the legislature is frustrated because the university's tuition/funding plan is being negotiated by Brown and Napolitano because it has zero representation on the "Committee of Two." 

That's not a hard concept to explain:
  



Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/soapbox/article9912773.html#storylink=cpy