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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Title IX

Another battle over 9?
The NY Times ran an article yesterday essentially dealing with whether the Trump administration might change Title IX regulation of sexual assault. It is reproduced below. However, keep in mind when reading it that California adopted legislation on this issue:

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB967

And UC adopted its own internal standards of adjudication. Unless the Trump administration were to threaten to withhold funding, California and UC would likely be unaffected by any change in federal regulation. Indeed, the issue is now so charged with political symbolism that any changes which in other circumstances might have been considered in California or in UC are now unlikely.

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Universities Face Pressure to Hold the Line on Title IX

By Anemona Hartocollis, Feb. 18, 2017, NY Times

Advocates are starting a campaign to try to persuade colleges to maintain the Obama administration’s tough policies for protecting women on campuses from sexual assault, even if the Trump administration relaxes enforcement.

Many people expect the Trump administration to tilt the balance of federal guidance to make it harder to discipline the thousands of students, almost all of them men, who are accused of sexual violence against women each year.

Women’s groups are leading the push, along with an organization that represents the campus administrators responsible for enforcing federal sexual assault policy — a group whose numbers have grown into the thousands in just a few years.

The main goal of those involved in the effort is to convince college presidents that the Obama-era policies have positively transformed the lives of women on college campuses.

“This is a chance to be doing what we should be doing rather than what we must be doing,” said Brett Sokolow, the executive director of the Association of Title IX Administrators, which takes its name from the federal sex discrimination law.

On one side of the issue are those who believe the Trump administration could usher in a new era of stigmatizing young women who speak up when they have been sexually assaulted by fellow students. On the other are critics, including many conservative activists and lawyers, who say that young men are being demonized and having their rights trampled in campus disciplinary proceedings.

Mr. Sokolow’s group has drafted a document, “The ATIXA Playbook: Best Practices for the Post-Regulatory Era,” which he said would be distributed to 33,000 people at schools, colleges and universities whose job involves enforcing Title IX.

The paper’s introduction notes that many critics have said colleges should not be in the business of policing sexual violence, and that this is a “politically opportune moment to offer a spirited defense” of why they should be.

End Rape on Campus, a “survivor advocacy organization,” created the hashtag #DearBetsy, a reference to Betsy DeVos, the new federal education secretary, and has urged the posting of messages on Twitter in support for “sexual assault survivors” and others protected from discrimination by Title IX policies, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

“I want us to take a stance proactively,” said Sofie Karasek, the director of education for the advocacy group. “I don’t want us to just react to things that happen. I want to get ahead of whatever is going to come down the pipeline.”

On Wednesday, the National Women’s Law Center and other women’s and student groups held a “call-in” to the Education Department, demanding that Ms. DeVos commit to the current federal sexual assault guidance.

“That was our first big action collectively,” said Neena Chaudhry, the law center’s senior counsel and education director. “We’re looking at a Twitter storm sometime soon.”

Colleges and universities are in a delicate position, reluctant to dismantle the current system for addressing sexual assault, while viewing the new administration as potentially making it less fraught for them.

“Schools must and will continue to support survivors and to be fair to both parties, we are required to do that, but federal guidance can be a straitjacket that forces schools to act in a way that may not further those goals,” said Terry Hartle, the senior vice president of the American Council on Education, a higher education trade group.

Mr. Hartle acknowledged that colleges and universities chafe at the public scrutiny that comes with being put on a list of institutions under investigation, even before findings have been made. That list now numbers 309 cases at 227 colleges and universities, including Cornell, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, M.I.T., and Stanford.

He said the criteria for such federal investigations were “vague” and “ambiguous,” and that colleges would like clarification.

“How do we avoid getting sued by the government?” he said.

He said that many college presidents believe disciplinary proceedings could sometimes be carried out more equitably through mediation, which could better account for complexities like memories dimmed by alcohol and stories that conflict and lack witnesses, rather than through the current system, in which there are clear winners and losers. But mediation is not now allowed.

But Mr. Hartle said that trying to reshape sexual assault policy could be politically risky.

“I think the challenge for the new administration will be to ask themselves, can this be changed in a way that does not get us killed?”

Ms. DeVos said during her confirmation hearing that it would be premature for her to take a position on Title IX, and a spokesman for her office declined to comment Friday. Sexual assault policy is carried out by the department’s Office for Civil Rights, and whoever takes over that office would have a strong influence on any change in direction.

Gail Heriot, a leading critic of Obama-era policies, and a University of San Diego law professor, has been put forward as a candidate by more than 240 largely conservative activists and college faculty members, in a letter sent to the Trump administration and reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education. Among those signing were Harvey Silverglate, a co-founder of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a free-speech group, and Heather Mac Donald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Ms. Heriot said in an email Friday that she had not heard from Ms. DeVos or anyone acting on her behalf. “I have no evidence that I am actually being considered for the job,” she said.

Advocates credit the threat of federal investigations with fostering a better understanding of campus rape as a serious problem deserving of clear consequences, up to suspension and expulsion.

Critics, including prominent law school professors, say the federal guidance has trampled on the due process rights of the accused — almost always young men — by setting a low standard of evidence and by not requiring the involvement of the police and other law enforcement agencies.

“There are poorly trained administrators, faculty and students investigating alleged criminal conduct, sitting in judgment and doling out punishment,” said Charles Wayne, a lawyer in Washington, who has represented more than a dozen men accused in campus proceedings.

Mr. Sokolow said his group’s tracking indicated that 10,000 to 12,000 cases reach the disciplinary phase every year — many more when sexual harassment, stalking and relationship violence are counted too. Others said the number was hard to come by, but perhaps in the low thousands.

Some of the activists have been buoyed by the success of the Women’s Marches the day after President Trump’s inauguration, which, according to estimates, drew more than one million people in cities across the United States and more around the world.

“I have called the Department of Education quite a few times and called my senator quite a few times,” said Jessica Davidson, a 2016 graduate of the University of Denver and an activist with End Rape on Campus who said a fellow student had been found guilty of raping her through the campus disciplinary process.

Mr. Sokolow said that Title IX officers are prepared for whatever may come. “I’m playing a long game and looking at this as a cyclical retraction,” he said. “Title IX is 45 years old. It’s waxed and waned. It isn’t going anywhere. We just have to figure out how to navigate it.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/18/us/college-campuses-title-ix-sexual-assault.html

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Bus services changes to UCLA

UCLA... will see more service on Rapid 12, for better connectivity to Metro’s Expo Line, and schedule adjustments on weekends. Route 17 will serve UCLA’s Charles E. Young Terminal, instead of Hilgard Terminal; weekday service will increase to every 20 minutes.

Furthermore, Route 18 will see schedule adjustments on weekday morning trips to UCLA and evening trips to Marina del Rey...

Source: http://patch.com/california/santamonica/santa-monica-big-blue-bus-adding-new-routes-starting-monday

See also: https://www.bigbluebus.com/Routes-And-Schedules/ServiceChanges.aspx

Alternative Approach for Next Time

Next time, if he comes again to Berkeley (or any other UC campus), the better approach seems to be to stay calm, roll your eyes, let him talk until he's bored. From the SF Chronicle:

After a week of questions about whether Milo Yiannopoulos should be allowed on”Real Time with Bill Maher,” viewers probably expected fireworks — if not fire and brimstone. But the Breitbart editor and professional troll fizzled. Yiannopoulos kept trying to work in his “ain’t I a stinker” Bugs Bunny routine while Maher kept trying to talk about ideas and shared ground, until even Maher seemed bored.
Yiannopoulos failed to either incite the audience or provide any of his staged “look at how liberals can’t handle me!” moments. In the end, it felt less like a debate or even a conversation, and more like an indulgent parent had impatiently tried find common ground with a teenager shouting the f-word in church...

Friday, February 17, 2017

MOOcs

The myth that online education courses cost less to produce and therefore save students money on tuition doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, a survey of distance education providers found.
The survey, conducted by the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), found that most colleges charge students the same or more to study online. And when additional fees are included, more than half of distance education students pay more than do those in brick-and-mortar classrooms.
The higher prices -- what students pay -- are connected to higher production costs, the survey found. Researchers asked respondents to think about 21 components of an online course, such as faculty development, instructional design and student assessment, and how the cost of those components compares to a similar face-to-face course. The respondents -- administrators in charge of distance education at 197 colleges -- said nine of the components cost more in an online course than in a face-to-face course, while 12 cost about the same...
So, not so cheap, cheap:

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Learning from History

Clio, Muse of History
UCLA received a $5 million donation Wednesday to establish a center to apply historical research to modern-day problems.
Alumnus Meyer Luskin, one of the namesakes of the Luskin School of Public Affairs, stipulated his gift would fund the Luskin Center for History and Policy, which will have the mission of furthering the study of historical events and how that knowledge is useful in creating effective public policy.
UCLA officials said the new center will be the first of its kind on the West Coast, unique in its aim not only to provide education, but also encourage a more applied relationship between historical research and policy.
The center aims to bring different departments of campus together in order to promote the sharing of knowledge and implementation of relevant projects. The center will pursue policy-oriented research from humanities and social science faculty.
It will also host visiting scholars and postdoctoral fellows, provide funding for graduate students and sponsor new courses to train students to analyze historical events and apply their knowledge to current issues...

So, do we put this in the lost file? Apparently not; the legal battle will go on

Maybe yes; maybe no
The US patent office ruled on Wednesday that hotly disputed patents on the revolutionary genome-editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 belong to the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, dealing a blow to the University of California in its efforts to overturn those patents. In a one-sentence judgment by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, the three judges decided that there is “no interference in fact.” In other words, key CRISPR patents awarded to the Broad beginning in 2014 are sufficiently different from patents applied for by UC that they can stand. The judges’ full 51-page decision explaining their reasoning stated that the Broad had persuaded them “that the parties claim patentably distinct subject matter.”
“The Broad landed a knock-out punch,” said Jacob Sherkow of New York Law School, an expert on patent law who has followed the CRISPR case...
UC said it is considering its legal options, including the possibility of an appeal, but it contended that anyone who wants to develop CRISPR-based treatments for human diseases would have to license not only the Broad’s patents but also those that UC expects to be awarded. “Ours,” Doudna told reporters, “is for the use [of CRISPR] in all cells,” including human ones.
The Broad said in a statement that the decision “confirms that the patents and applications of Broad Institute and UC Berkeley are about different subjects and do not interfere with each other.”...

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Report on DACA arrest

DACA workshop at UCLA, 2012
The NY Times is reporting on the arrest of a DACA-status individual in Seattle:

More than two years ago, Daniel Ramirez Medina, an unauthorized immigrant, applied for a special program created under the Obama administration that would allow him to stay and work in the United States.

But on Friday morning, when federal immigration agents showed up at his home in Seattle to detain his father, they took Mr. Ramirez, 23, as well. His lawyers have now sued the federal government, arguing that he is being held in custody unconstitutionally, in an “unprecedented and unjustified” case...

Full story at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/14/us/illegal-immigration-daca-arrest.html

UPDATE: Later report says individual is alleged to be a gang member.
http://www.sacbee.com/news/nation-world/national/article132796364.html

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Our Annual UCLA Valentine Video


Caution on Immigration

EdSource is running an article on the paradox of UC prez Napolitano now seen as the protector of DREAM students when, at the time she was hired, there were protests about her role in enforcing immigration laws during the Obama administration. See:
https://edsource.org/2017/uc-president-emerges-as-champion-of-program-for-undocumented-students/576323

But maybe the key sentence in the article is:
"There are many uncertainties, including, for example, what if anything the university could do if ICE agents entered a UC campus without permission."

(The answer is zilch.)

One might also note that UC is not among the universities that filed a friend-of-the-court brief contesting the Trump administration's executive order banning certain immigrants and travelers:
http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S48/69/99M52/Princeton_amicus_brief_0217.pdf

Monday, February 13, 2017

Op Ed from Dirks on Recent Protest

UC-Berkeley's (outgoing) Chancellor Nicholas Dirks pens an op ed in the student newspaper at Berkeley:

In a letter to the UC Berkeley community a week before Milo Yiannopoulos’ visit, I made clear that both our campus’s iconic commitment to free speech, as well as definitive First Amendment rulings by the Supreme Court, meant that we were obliged to support the invitation by a legitimate student organization of the speaker to campus. Those who suggest there was a legal path to cancellation of the event are mistaken. I also made clear that we recognized the equal right of members of the community to assemble lawfully and to protest the speaker and his views, consistent with another iconic identity of this campus around our history of protest...

Recent op-ed submissions to this newspaper have, however, shifted the debate from one about freedom of speech and the First Amendment to naked endorsements of violent suppression of free speech in the name of supposedly higher values. While I feel strongly about my commitment to debate and disagreement, I am horrified by the call to embrace the use of violence to contest views with which we may disagree.  Even if one believes that Yiannopoulos’ speech might potentially have constituted some form of rhetorical violence, meeting this threat with actual physical violence is antithetical to what we, as a community dedicated to open inquiry, must and do stand for.  Physical violence has absolutely no place on our campus...

Full op ed at http://www.dailycal.org/2017/02/10/not-condone-violence-suppress-free-speech/

Dirks was reacting to prior op eds such as http://www.dailycal.org/2017/02/07/black-bloc-campus/

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Interesting Interview with President of MIT

Here’s what the president of MIT thinks of the Trump administration’s early moves

Deborah Netburn, LA Times, 2-11-17

The student’s email arrived early on Jan. 28. It was addressed to Rafael Reif, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The undergraduate didn’t want to bother him, she wrote, but she was stuck overseas and unable to return to campus because of the White House’s newly imposed travel ban.

It was 6:37 a.m., but Reif didn’t hesitate. He immediately contacted three of his top aides to help her and two other students in similar straits.

“These people worked around the clock to make sure these kids made it home,” he said. “They didn’t sleep.”

One week later, the students were safely back in Cambridge, but in the midst of the ordeal, Reif wrote a letter to the MIT community expressing his thoughts on the situation. He wrote that the research university, founded in 1861, was at once uniquely American and profoundly global.

“Like the United States, and thanks to the United States, MIT gains tremendous strength by being a magnet for talent from around the world,” he wrote. In that light, he said, the executive order appeared to him “a stunning violation of our deepest American values, the values of a nation of immigrants: fairness, equality, openness, generosity, courage.”

Reif is an immigrant himself. Born and educated in Venezuela, he came to the U.S. as a graduate student, earning his doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University. He joined the MIT faculty in 1980 and became its president in 2012.

Reif stopped by the Los Angeles Times this week to discuss science in the age of Trump and MIT’s plan for the next four years.

Why do you think the scientific community has been so vocal in its opposition to the travel ban?

I believe the reasons are obvious. Scientists love to collaborate and work with people who see things from a different perspective. When people work together to address big challenges — whether it’s climate change or fresh water access or Alzheimer’s — you start recognizing people for what they can contribute to the big mission. It doesn’t matter where you came from. It is irrelevant.

We have students from Turkey being supervised by faculty from Greece. Culturally they hate each other, but that doesn’t come up at MIT because they are dealing with bigger issues than themselves.

Last week Trump threatened on Twitter to cut off federal funding for UC Berkeley because violent protests prompted the university to cancel a talk by provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. What are your thoughts on that?

I don’t have all the details, but I understand that somebody whose views that are not politically acceptable to some members of the community was not allowed to speak. That doesn’t help universities. We should allow everyone to say whatever they want. But I think having the U.S. president make a statement like that feels like an overreaction.

Are you concerned Trump might continue to threaten universities with the loss of federal funds when they do something he doesn’t agree with?

There are reasons to be concerned, but I would not panic.

I like to think the administration is not fully staffed yet, and that we will get to a more stable and predictable situation sometime soon. Just like I wish the president did not overreact in the tweet, I don’t want to overreact either. Let’s just give him a chance to settle in, get the team together, and figure out in which direction they really want to take the country.

Might federal agencies like the Department of Defense or the National Institutes of Health decide on their own to withhold funding if they think that’s what the president wants?

I’m having a wait-and-see attitude. I am trying to speak as best I can for the need for us to understand each other’s point of view. Let’s recognize that we live in a democratic country and there are people who believe that what he tweeted was the right thing to say.

The last thing we need right now is to start a war between “us” and “them,” whoever “them” are. We just have to figure out how to continue to build bridges and understand each other.

The election showed us that we are not all hearing the same information. Do you have any thoughts on how to break through people’s bubbles and communicate with them? 

The exercise I’m practicing, and it seems to be working, is to find somewhere that we agree and once we establish that, extrapolate. If we start by not agreeing, we will never get anywhere.

What’s your plan for the next four years?

The big picture for MIT is to keep doing basic research because that is the mother of all knowledge. But we don’t want to stop there. We also need to identify big problems and have people working on those. To me, the health of the planet and human health are the two critical ones that drive everything.

So we have a lot to do. Every day counts. We cannot stop what we are doing and get distracted. The last thing I want is for us to get distracted by him.

Political upheaval to me is like waves on the beach. Underneath that we just have to keep going.

Source: http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-mit-president-qa-20170210-story.html

Saturday, February 11, 2017

UCLA History: Easy Rider

Easy Rider opens in the Fox theater one block from UCLA, 1969

Friday, February 10, 2017

On track, kind of

The state controller is reporting that revenues for the first seven months of the fiscal year are about on track with projections. But which track? The January comparison of projected revenues vs. actual uses the projections from the governor's budget proposal made in January. So it is hardly likely that it would be off by much. Compared to the projections made last June when the current budget was enacted, revenues are about $400 million below estimates. That's certainly not something to panic about. We still await the dollop of revenue that will come in when income taxes are due in April. But, on the other hand, it means that the state is not flush with revenue.

The controller's report is at http://sco.ca.gov/Files-ARD/CASH/January%202017%20Statement%20of%20General%20Fund%20Cash%20Receipts%20and%20Disbursements.pdf

Berkeley Demonstration Discussed on Airtalk

From KPCC's Airtalk with Larry Mantle: (2-9-17)

Breitbart News Editor Milo Yiannopoulos’ visit to UC Berkeley last week reportedly elevated some concerns about on-campus demonstrations.

According to an article by the Los Angeles Times, 100 to 150 demonstrators disrupted otherwise peaceful protests, causing a fire to erupt from a diesel-powered klieg light. Half a dozen windows were also smashed.  

Claiming the incident was unprecedented, Berkeley officials are looking to strike a balance between free speech and keeping protests from becoming violent. Larry speaks to UC Berkeley campus police and officials today to find out how they plan to move forward.

Guests: Dan Mogulof, assistant vice chancellor and spokesperson for UC Berkeley, Margo Bennett, UC Berkeley campus police chief, Joe Cohn, Legislative and Policy Director for the Foundation of Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)

You can hear it at:
https://media.scpr.org/audio/upload/2017/02/09/UC_Berkeley_and_the_changing_dynamic_of_student_protests-0409a68a.mp3

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Trial by Jury

On February 7, 2017, Michele Coyle, former Chief Campus Counsel of UC Riverside, was awarded $2.5 million by a jury in Riverside Superior Court, against the University of California. The jury found that Ms. Coyle was retaliated against in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act for reporting gender discrimination at UC Riverside. The jury also found that UC General Counsel Charles Robinson (who reports to the UC Regents) and Tim White (former UC Riverside Chancellor, and current Chancellor of the California State University system) retaliated against Ms. Coyle in violation of Labor Code section 1102.5. Ms. Coyle was terminated on the eve of a federal audit to determine whether UC Riverside complied with its obligations under state and federal law to prohibit discrimination, retaliation, and harassment on the campus, in an effort to conceal information from the auditors...

Full story at http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170208006341/en/Mira-Hashmall-Partner-Miller-Barondess-LLP-Wins

UPDATE: Inside Higher Ed has a more complete story at:
https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2017/02/09/jury-awards-25m-former-counsel-riverside

Whose fault, did you say?

From the NY Times' "public editor':

When reporters are writing about private individuals they don’t typically publish the person’s exact street address. First, it’s usually irrelevant to the article, and more crucially, announcing the home address of anyone can be dangerous. 

Here’s the guidance from The New York Times stylebook: 

“In writing about a person whose family might face harassment or harm, consider a general neighborhood reference instead. If an exact address seems newsworthy because of a crime or other visible event, carefully consider the potential for harm before publishing it.”

That wasn’t the approach taken when the Times reporter Patricia Leigh Brown described academic life for some undocumented students on the campus of the University of California, Merced. The 22 students, mostly first-generation immigrants from impoverished families, share life together on the top two floors of a single dorm. And each time Brown described a student, she included their dorm room number, adding some visual geography as she described their modestly decorated surroundings.

Brown writes an engaging piece, not only about these students’ unlikely path to a campus of an acclaimed university, but also about education policy, which is not always easy to make engaging. Brown shows it’s possible.

It’s too bad that an otherwise strong piece was weakened by a decision to describe the students not just by their name, but by what is essentially their home address.

Two university administrators I contacted, both of whom were involved with The Times’s story, said they believe that inclusion of the dorm name and room numbers puts the undocumented students in danger.

“We didn’t think she (the reporter) would even use the name of the residence hall,” said Alejandro Delgadillo, who oversees services for undocumented students on the campus. “To include the room numbers puts a target on these students. We engage with a great deal of media and never felt that students were at risk by the information that we were sharing. This really violated that.”...

Full article at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/07/public-editor/when-details-in-a-story-can-put-people-at-risk.html

All well and good. But while the reporter wrote the story and submitted it, the NY Times - really someone acting as an agent for the Times - made the decision to publish it with the names and locations, presumably after an editorial review and judgment. "That wasn’t the approach taken" doesn't identify the decision maker, although the reporter is named.  So, again, whose fault was it it?

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Not in Kansas Anymore

A new California state law has ended discussions between Cal and Kansas about a home-and-home series in men’s basketball.

“Cal said they couldn’t do it,” Kansas Athletics spokesperson Jim Marchiony told the Lawrence Journal-World, which reported confirmation from Kansas officials of the development.

The schools had reportedly been in preliminary talks about playing two games — one at Cal and one in Lawrence, Kansas.

Because of a new law passed in 2015, California’s public colleges and universities cannot travel to Kansas schools because of a religious freedom law in that state which allows student groups to discriminate against people who don’t share the group’s religious beliefs, according to the Journal-World.

That includes allowing a bans of gay students from joining due to a group’s religious beliefs...

Full story at http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/02/06/cal-withdraws-from-talks-with-kansas-over-anti-lgbt-law/  (Also on today's UC Newsclips.)

Berkeley Aftermath

As part of the aftermath of the protest and cancellation of the Milo Yiannopoulos talk at Berkeley, there is apparently an investigation of a staff member at Berkeley who is alleged to have beaten an attendee. See above. (We noted in an earlier post that conservative social media had pointed to a specific employee of UC-Berkeley who appeared on social media to have been involved in the violence.) There is also a reported conflict between the union representing campus police at Berkeley and the administration over crowd control tactics. See:
http://www.wbng.com/story/34448055/berkeley-probes-hands-off-police-response-to-protest-chaos

Although Yiannopoulos said he would return to Berkeley, there is no specific date or schedule.

UPDATE: There apparently was some concern before the talk that the presentation would be used to "out" undocumented students at Berkeley:
https://alumni.berkeley.edu/california-magazine/just-in/2017-02-07/do-milos-intentions-matter

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

500/40

The State of California is among the states that have filed briefs in connection with the court case challenging the Trump immigration ban.

In one of the briefs, it is stated that 500 graduate students at the University of California are affected by the order, together with 40 undergraduates.

The estimate is part of evidence provided to the court that the state has an interest in the case.

You can find these figures on pdf pages 11 and 12 of the brief. (Not numbered pages.) The brief is at:
http://agportal-s3bucket.s3.amazonaws.com/uploadedfiles/Another/News/Press_Releases/States%27%20Amicus%20Brief.pdf

Monday, February 6, 2017

Berkeley Rumors

Former Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory chief Paul Alivisatos has emerged as the front-runner to replace UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, who plans to exit by the end of May after a bumpy 3½-year tenure.

UC President Janet Napolitano has promised to name a new chancellor in time for the Board of Regents’ meeting in March. Right now, all signs point to the 57-year-old Alivisatos, vice chancellor for research at UC Berkeley.

“He will have immediate credibility with a whole swath of people on campus, and if the goal is protecting our core mission — run by the hard sciences — then they got their guy,” one administration insider said after the hiring sweepstakes, speaking on condition of anonymity because the selection process isn’t public.

Getting someone who will protect the “core mission” took on added importance when President Trump questioned in a tweet whether the university should continue to receive federal funds after Wednesday night’s violent protest kept right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking on campus.

Napolitano is expected to interview a handful of finalists for the chancellor’s job within the next couple of weeks. Candidates have been drawn both from within and outside the UC system...

Berkeley Crowd Control Policy May Reverse

According San Francisco Chronicle columnists Matier & Ross, UC-Berkeley is hinting at a change in crowd control policy in reaction to the confrontation over the Milo Yiannopoulos talk:

“Black bloc” anarchists demonstrate Wednesday at UC Berkeley, forcing the cancellation of right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos’ speech. The police backed off as the anarchists destroyed property. When it comes to its treatment of anarchist protesters like the ones who trashed Sproul Plaza the other night, UC Berkeley’s attitude amounts to this: We’d rather deal with broken windows than broken heads.

The result was about $100,000 in damage to the campus — and a worldwide image of UC police standing by as “black bloc” protesters fired bottle rockets at them and used police barricades as battering rams to break the windows of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, where right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak.

It wasn’t just the building that took damage. Some people who the anarchists concluded were there to hear Yiannopoulos were attacked, and one of the organizers of the Berkeley College Republicans, who were hosting the Breitbart News website editor, was splashed with red paint.

Police made no attempt to stop the attack or arrest any of the rioters. It was a legacy, in part, of the infamous incident during the Occupy protests of 2011 in which a UC Davis police officer shot pepper spray directly into the faces of peaceful, seated demonstrators on the campus quad.

After that PR disaster — which resulted in UC agreeing to a nearly $1 million lawsuit settlement — the university rewrote its police rules to mandate that officers use the minimum amount of force needed to ensure the maximum safety of everyone involved. Taking on the anarchists at the Berkeley protest with batons and tear gas might have resulted in arrests, but it would also have resulted in injuries — and not just to black bloc types. The hundreds of demonstrators who were behaving peacefully would have been in the middle of the mess.

“We’re not talking about people who, if you try to arrest them, are going to say, ‘I’m sorry’ and just let themselves be cuffed and taken in,” UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said of the anarchists. “There would have been confrontations that involved innocent bystanders, and we would have had far more than the six injuries we had.”

Having the police scurry for cover may have been a bad look on TV, but it was an easy call for campus officials, Mogulof said. “It was too dangerous for everyone.”

Something happened Wednesday, however, that is causing law enforcement officials to re-examine their procedures. In the past, when violent protesters have shown up at East Bay demonstrations, they’ve mixed with the crowd and used peaceful protesters as human cover. This time, the 100 or so black bloc anarchists marched brazenly up Bancroft Way and into Sproul Plaza after the protest was under way, lined up directly in front of their target and attacked.

It was as if they knew no one would stop them — which turned out to be the case.

“That is a real game changer,” Mogulof said...


Full column at http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/matier-ross/article/Why-UC-police-let-anarchists-run-wild-in-Berkeley-10908034.php

Undergrad Students Assn. Opposes Measure S

Screen grab from USAC website
The UCLA Undergraduate Students Association (USAC) apparently is opposing the "slow growth" initiative - Measure S - that will be on the LA City ballot of March 7.

From the USAC website:

...Measure S, a citywide ballot initiative, will DRASTICALLY LIMIT NEW HOUSING DEVELOPMENT across the city. In Westwood, new projects will be capped at a maximum of 3 stories tall. As Bruins, we already face some of the highest housing costs in the nation and a limit on new housing construction is the last thing we need...

Source: https://uclaevp.com/no-on-measure-s/
There is a schedule of planned political events at that website.

See also the video below from the USAC Facebook page, starting at minute 1:00:

video

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Déjà vu

If you have a feeling of déjà vu after reading the item below, it's real. It happened at Davis recently. First the riot and cancellation. Then the return.

Milo Yiannopoulos made an announcement Saturday morning that may have members of the East Bay up in arms all over again.
He says he is planning on returning to Berkeley to give the speech he was unable to deliver earlier this week when chaos broke out over his appearance.
“I’m planning to return to Berkeley to give the speech I was prevented from delivering,” Yiannopoulos said in a Facebook post.  “Hopefully within the next few months. I’ll keep you posted.”...
Full story at http://news10.com/2017/02/04/milo-yiannopoulos-to-return-to-university-of-california-determined-to-give-speech/

Note: Conservative social media claim to have ID'd a UC-Berkeley employee who assaulted someone attending the canceled talk.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Finger Pointing

Berkeley Mayor, UC Police Union Criticize Campus Over Plans for Milo Yiannopoulos Protest

By Ted Goldberg, Feb. 3, 2017, KQED News

UC Berkeley could have done a better job in preparing for the violent protests that led to the cancellation of an on-campus speech by Breitbart News commentator Milo Yiannopoulos Wednesday, according to Berkeley’s mayor and the union that represents university police officers.

The protest against Yiannopoulos, the right-wing provocateur criticized for racist, misogynist, anti-transgender and white supremacist statements, caused about $100,000 in damage to campus property and led to the vandalism of more than a dozen businesses in downtown Berkeley and along Telegraph Avenue.

“In the end, this was a decision that I didn’t make, that the City Council didn’t make. This was a decision of the university,” Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin said in an interview.

“I think the university should have consulted with the city before they made the decision to invite this person to the campus,” Arreguin said. “There should have been some serious consideration about whether he should have been invited to begin with, given the fact that he’s provoked a violent response on other campuses.”

UC police were in touch with Berkeley city police about the event well before Wednesday night, according to campus spokesman Dan Mogulof.

The demonstrations involved more than a thousand protesters. Campus officials say police and the university could not have anticipated that some of them would “invade” the campus to shut down the Yiannopoulos event.

The campus police department has launched an investigation into Wednesday night’s violence. UC Berkeley officials say about 150 masked individuals hurled Molotov cocktails, set fires and pushed barricades into windows.

Nine people were treated for injuries at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center over a two-day period, and three men were arrested in connection with the protest.

The union that represents UC police says there wasn’t a good tactical plan in place beforehand.

“They were unable to assist the citizens and the public that were out there that were defenseless against these rioters, who were actively engaging in breaking the law and attacking defenseless citizens,” said John Bakhit, an attorney who represents the Federated University Police Officers Association.

Bakhit said in an interview that UC Berkeley police officers were ordered not to take any enforcement action against protesters who lit fires and threw rocks, bottles and fireworks at them. He said there weren’t enough officers on hand at the start of the protests to make arrests and protect the public.

“When these rioters saw that there was no action taken against them, it emboldened them into acting more aggressively,” Bakhit said.

Campus officials would not comment on the union’s criticism, but Mogulof said that civilian university staff does not interfere in law enforcement decisions.

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and other campus officials have condemned the actions of protesters who committed vandalism.

“The violence was an attack on our fundamental values, which are maintaining and nurturing open inquiry and an inclusive, civil society — the bedrock of a genuinely democratic nation,” Dirks said in a statement. “We are now, and will remain in the future, committed to Free Speech not only as a vital component of our campus identity, but as essential to our educational mission.”

Hours after the protest, President Donald Trump suggested possible cuts to federal funding for UC Berkeley in a tweet that prompted sharp criticism from Rep. Barbara Lee, whose district includes Berkeley.

Source: https://ww2.kqed.org/news/2017/02/03/berkeley-mayor-uc-police-union-criticize-campus-over-plans-for-milo-yiannopolous-protest/

That's Berkeley. At least at Santa Cruz, they have a history of knowing whose fault it is:

Friday, February 3, 2017

Berkeley/Twitter Aftermath

Inside Higher Ed has a long article on the Twitter threat by President Trump to cut off funding from UC-Berkeley because of recent events in which violence occurred and a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos was cancelled.* Basically, the article discusses whether there is authority to cut off funding.

Generally, the article says that there is not at present such authority and that Berkeley was attempting to have the speech go forward when public safety concerns outweighed other considerations.

However, the article contains this paragraph:

Federal laws do of course impose requirements on colleges receiving federal aid that have nothing to do with the aid, per se. And some members of Congress have used such laws to oppose certain trends on campuses. In the 1980s, U.S. Representative Gerald Solomon, a New York Republican, attached to several appropriations bills provisions that cut off federal funds to institutions that did not permit military recruiters on campus. At the time, many law schools did ban military recruiters, saying that the military's anti-gay discrimination (since ended) violated institutional policies. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law.

So, apart from the specifics of the Berkeley situation, Congress could create such authority, a possibility that can't be dismissed given its current political leanings.
---
*https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/02/03/experts-say-trump-cannot-cut-berkeleys-funds-despite-his-tweet

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Chipping Away

Note: The NLRB covers private universities and therefore not UC. However, its counterpart for public employees in California - PERB - could decide to follow NLRB practice. Indeed, it could decide to do what the NLRB does now, even if NLRB policy is later changed by Trump appointees.

NLRB Chips Away at Athlete Amateurism

Big-time college football players at private institutions should be considered employees, the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel says in new memo.

By Jake New  February 2, 2017  Inside Higher Ed

Football players at private institutions in college sports’ most competitive level are employees, the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel stated this week, and will be treated as such if they seek protection against unfair labor practices.

In a memorandum sent Tuesday to the board’s regional directors, the NLRB’s general counsel, Richard Griffin, wrote that “scholarship football players in Division I Football Bowl Subdivision private-sector colleges and universities are employees” under the National Labor Relations Act. While limited to granting protections under just one section of the act, the memo clarifies that football players at private FBS programs are entitled to campaign for their own interests as employees, including asking for pay, free of retaliation. There are 17 private colleges and universities in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Football Bowl Subdivision.

With the memo, Griffin continues to chip away at the NCAA's amateurism model. Last year, his office issued a similar notice regarding how private institutions govern the ways football players communicate with reporters and on social media. In that memo, he also stated that the athletes are employees.

The new memo partly answers a question left open by the full National Labor Relations Board in 2015, when it declined to assert jurisdiction over whether football players at Northwestern University could form a union. It does not reverse that ruling, however, nor does it carry the force of law. But Ramogi Huma, who led the unionization efforts at Northwestern and is executive director of the National College Players Association, said that Tuesday's memo "brings college athletes one step closer to justice."

"It's definitely historic," Huma said. "By declaring that these athletes are employees, the general counsel is saying that his office is committed to protecting college athletes' employee rights under the labor laws, and I think that can't be understated. It's what the players at Northwestern set in motion, and this is a major milestone."

The NLRB’s 2015 decision, while narrow, effectively reversed a ruling 16 months earlier by the board's Chicago regional office saying that, under the National Labor Relations Act, scholarship football players at private universities are employees.

The university appealed the Chicago office’s decision to the full National Labor Relations Board in Washington, urging the board to reverse the regional director’s decision. In amicus briefs filed in July 2014, Northwestern's argument was backed by at least eight other private colleges, six Republican members of Congress and the NCAA.

Two months earlier, Northwestern football players held a secret ballot to decide whether they would unionize, but the ballots were impounded due to the university’s appeal. Following the NLRB’s decision, those ballots were destroyed. The players at Northwestern said their goals for collective bargaining included increasing scholarships and coverage for sports-related medical expenses, minimizing the risk of traumatic brain injury through measures like reduced contact in practice, improving graduation rates with help from an “educational trust fund,” and securing due process rights.

The board, in declining to assert jurisdiction, noted that the issue of college football players' unionizing affects both public and private institutions. And the NLRB has no authority over public institutions. So ruling in a case involving one private institution, the board suggested, would destabilize the competitive balance between public and private universities.

In Tuesday’s memo, Griffin, the NLRB’s general counsel, stated that by not asserting jurisdiction, the board “expressly declined to resolve the issue of whether college football players are employees under the NLRA.” Scholarship FBS athletes at private institutions, Griffin wrote, “clearly satisfy the broad definition of employee and the common-law test.”

“Scholarship football players should be protected [by the NLRA] when they act concertedly to speak out about aspects of their terms and conditions of employment," he wrote. "This includes, for example, any actions to: advocate for greater protections against concussive head trauma and unsafe practice methods, reform NCAA rules so that football players can share in the profit derived from their talents, or self-organize.”...

Full story at https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/02/02/nlrb-general-counsel-says-private-college-football-players-are-employees

LAO on Debt-Free College

Executive Summary of Legislative Analyst's Office report: [excerpts]

Report Considers Design and Cost of a “Debt Free College” Program. The Supplemental Report of the 2016-17 Budget Act directs our office to provide the Legislature with options for creating a new state financial aid program intended to eliminate the need for students to take on college debt. The reporting language envisions a program under which the state covers all remaining college costs (tuition and living expenses) after taking into account available federal grants, an expected parent contribution, and an expected student contribution from work earnings. Though not specified in the reporting language, our understanding of the intent is for the program to focus on resident undergraduate students attending public colleges in California.

Program Likely to Limit but Not Eliminate Student Loan Debt. The debt free college program described in the reporting language is based upon what some financial aid experts refer to as shared responsibility. Shared responsibility programs can be designed to provide students a pathway to debt free college. Importantly, however, these programs do not necessarily eliminate loan debt for all students. Unless programs require students to make their contribution through work, some students might prefer to borrow. Also, some students might borrow if they experience difficulty finding employment or if their parents fail to provide their full contribution...

Program Estimated to Cost Additional $3.3 Billion Dollars Annually. Of this amount, $2.2 billion is for CCC students, $800 million is for CSU students, and $300 million is for UC students. (These amounts are on top of all existing gift aid.) Costs vary by segment primarily due to differences in the number of students they serve, as well as some variation in current levels of gift aid per student. Though our estimate of the initial cost of a new debt free college program is based upon the best available information to us at the time this report was prepared, actual program costs over the longer term could turn out to be notably higher or lower...

Full report at http://lao.ca.gov/reports/2017/3540/Debt-Free-College-013117.pdf

Tweet

A bit of history: Jerry Brown's first move into politics was to get himself elected to the Los Angeles Community College Board in 1969. He campaigned against the student demonstrations at Berkeley and elsewhere. In the background was the fact that his dad had lost the governorship in 1966 to Ronald Reagan who had campaigned against those same demonstrations. It will be interesting to see how Brown reacts - if he does.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Climate

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Thousands of University of California and California State University faculty members are warning President Trump that deviating from the Paris Climate Agreement — as administration officials have recently hinted he might — would undermine the “future of our children and grandchildren.” More than 2,300 faculty members throughout both public school systems signed an open letter to Trump released Tuesday. The president has in the past called climate change a “hoax.” ...
The letter is at:
Using a search, I found well over 200 UCLA names on the letter as signatories. 

UC Approved MOOcs for High School A-G Requirements

From a PR release by the private company supplying the courses:

Apex Learning today announced that the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) accepted an additional 20 a-g approved Apex Learning high school courses as meeting requirements for University of California (UC) admission. With 61 previously approved courses, school districts now have access to over 80 UC a–g approved Apex Learning courses spanning the subjects of English, math, science, social studies, world languages and college preparatory electives, including 12 Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
UCOP indicated that the new courses fulfill the UC system’s a-g subject requirements, which aim to ensure students enter the UC system college ready. According to the California Curriculum Integrity Institute, approved courses must be academically challenging and must require substantial reading, writing, problem solving and analytical thinking, while also developing students’ verbal and listening skills.
“We know from our research that Apex Learning courses are the most rigorous online courses available,” said Cheryl Vedoe, CEO, Apex Learning. “We are excited about the University of California’s approval of additional courses because it allows districts to expand use of digital curriculum to achieve one of their most important goals – sufficiently preparing students for entrance to the competitive UC system.”
Apex Learning provides digital curriculum to schools and districts throughout California and across the country. The UC a-g approved Apex Learning courses now include: 
  •     Eleven history and social studies courses (a);
  •     Seventeen English language arts classes (b);
  •     Fourteen mathematics courses (c);
  •     Nine laboratory science courses (d);
  •     Eight languages other than English (e);
  •     Twenty-two college preparatory electives (g)...

Wells Fargo

NOTE: It is unclear from the news account below whether the action reported is "divestment" in the usual sense of removal from the endowment and/or pension portfolios or whether the contracts that are being discontinued are various financial arrangements used for ongoing operations.

UC to divest from Wells Fargo after Afrikan Black Coalition advocacy

By RevatiI Thatte | 1-31-17 | Daily Californian

The University of California will terminate $475 million worth of contracts with Wells Fargo after repeated criticism from the Afrikan Black Coalition, or ABC, over its ties to private correctional facilities. ABC alleged in a press release that Wells Fargo finances CoreCivic, a company that owns private prisons and detention centers. Additionally, in 2012, Wells Fargo settled with the U.S. Department of Justice over allegations of discrimination against African-American and Hispanic borrowers. The university terminated a $25 million commercial paper contract with Wells Fargo in November 2016. According to the ABC press release, the university will end its $150 million interest reset contract by April 1. Two-thirds of the $300 million line of credit will be terminated by February, with the remaining $100 million to be terminated as soon as a replacement bank is found...

UC Office of the President spokesperson Ricardo Vasquez confirmed the university’s divestment from Wells Fargo in an email, stating that the university deemed it appropriate to sever ties in light of the bank’s alleged recent activities regarding unauthorized bank and credit card accounts...

Full story at http://www.dailycal.org/2017/01/31/uc-to-divest-from-wells-fargo-after-abc-advocacy/