Monday, December 17, 2018

Should Every Campus Do Everything?

UC Merced is growing and changing and one of the biggest changes will be a new standalone business and management school.

The university is working to create a new interdiscplinary school, one that university officials are calling the "management school of the future".

"We're taking existing programs, putting them together and focusing them together on this complex system," Gallo School Planning Initiative Director Paul Maglio said.

The new Gallo school will bring together educators from the schools of engineering, natural sciences and humanities to teach students under one main focus. The university is already known for its focus on research and science, and the new school will be incorporating those science components into their program...

Full story at

Wright Ike

Not a lot happening in the university as we get into this time of year. So here is a phone of ex-President Eisenhower getting an honorary degree from UCLA in April 1965 (or maybe 1963).* Clark Kerr is at right. There is no particular reason to show this photo today EXCEPT that Eisenhower, as president, declared December 17th to be Wright Brothers Day back in 1959. (Dec. 17th is the anniversary of the first flight by the Wright brothers in 1903.)
Source and text of proclamation:
*For the source of the uncertainty on the year, see: and

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Robot Requiem

From the Daily Cal, 12-14-18:

Describing the robot as a “hero” and a “legend,” UC Berkeley students expressed their grief on Facebook as news of a fallen KiwiBot reached the campus community. 
About 2 p.m. Friday, a KiwiBot — one of the more than 100 robots that deliver food throughout the campus and city — caught fire outside the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union.
According to Sasha Iatsenia, head of product at Kiwi, the company is still working with UCPD to investigate the cause of the fire. Nothing like this has ever happened before, Iatsenia said.
UCPD could not be reached for comment as of press time...
We are at a loss for words, which is a problem if you don't have the right words for robots:

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Allegation of Hostile Work Environment at a Professional Academic Association - Part 2

Harvard is in the news, not just with regard to the admissions litigation, but with a Title 9 matter that has spread beyond the campus. Blog readers will recall that back in October, the American Economic Assn. (AEA) made the following statement on its website:*

A post from the Executive Committee  10-15-18

It has come to our attention that one of the recently elected candidates for office of the American Economic Association is the subject of allegations, being accused of creating a hostile work environment. Neither the Nominating Committee, nor the Executive Committee knew of such allegations at the time of nomination. We also believe that few of the members knew of the allegations at the time of the election. 

We take such allegations seriously, but they are, at this point, just allegations. While the home institution will neither deny nor confirm the existence of an investigation, we understand that one is underway, and may come to some conclusions in the not too distant future. We have decided that, before proceeding further, we should wait for those conclusions, if they are made public and they come within a reasonable amount of time. If not, we shall reexamine our position.

One conclusion we already draw is that, in the future, we shall ask potential nominees if they are the subject of an investigation. This will help avoid such situations going forward.

The Executive Committee, American Economic Association

At the time, as we reported, the individual involved, although not named in the notice above, was in fact known to be a prominent Harvard economist. The Harvard Crimson had reported on this matter, although not in connection with the AEA, much earlier (in May).** As of this morning, the individual is still listed on the AEA website as an incoming elected member of the AEA Executive Committee, a prestigious post.*** However, the AEA has its annual meeting in Atlanta in less than a month, and presumably some resolution will need to be found between now and then. The matter has been pushed to the fore by a NY Times article that appeared yesterday:****

On verra.
**** The Harvard Crimson reported that the university investigation had concluded in late November: It reported on a second investigation a few days ago:

Friday, December 14, 2018

Forecast Video

We had earlier posted about the December UCLA Anderson Forecast.* For those interested, the various presentations are now online. Here is the California segment:

or direct to:

Links to the full conference are at:

Thursday, December 13, 2018


Stewardship? Yours truly might have chosen another word, but...

To:  Members of the Academic Senate
Dear Colleagues:
Every five or so years after the initial appointment of a Chancellor, the Academic Senate conducts a "stewardship" review. The review is an evaluation of the Chancellor’s leadership qualities as we have perceived them during the preceding period. UC President Janet Napolitano has asked me to initiate Chancellor Block’s second stewardship review. I am enclosing a letter from President Napolitano inviting your participation in the review process.
The stewardship review supplements the performance reviews that the President conducts annually for each Chancellor. These five–year reviews provide the President and the Chancellor with important feedback from a wide range of Senate members on the Chancellor’s leadership and decision–making abilities, his administrative and managerial skills, and his ability to represent the campus. The review is intended to identify both strengths and areas for improvement.
I invite all members of the UCLA Academic Senate to submit confidential letters for consideration by the ad hoc committee that will conduct the stewardship review. You may email your comments to UCLA.Chan.Review@ucop.edua private mailbox for the exclusive use of the review committee. If you prefer, you may submit letters to the Systemwide Senate office (c/o Hilary Baxter, Academic Senate Executive Director, 1111 Franklin St., 12th floor, Oakland, CA 94607). Letters should be received no later than Friday, February 1, 2019. Although all letters are confidential, the Chancellor may request copies that have been redacted to remove identifying information such as letterhead or signature block. The text of the letters will not be revised to remove other identifying information.
For your convenience, we have created a stewardship review section on the UCLA Senate homepage. On this site, you can download the Criteria to Guide Chancellor Review Committees. We also have posted a self-statement from Chancellor Blockincluding his reflections on the past five years, the current state of the campus, and his vision for the future.
The system of shared governance gives faculty, through the Academic Senate, a strong voice in the operation of the University. I urge you to participate in shared governance by providing your assessment of Chancellor Block’s leadership. If you have any questions about the review process, please do not hesitate to contact UC Senate Executive Director Hilary Baxter at
Thank you in advance for your participation in this important review.
Joseph Bristow
UCLA Academic Senate Chair

10 Chancellors

The letter above - which appears (based on a web search) to have been made public on Dec. 11 - apparently is in response to a conference held at UCLA during the fall quarter by a group promoting an Israel boycott.

Listen to the Regents Health Services Committee Meeting of Dec. 11, 2018

We're catching up with the Regents' Health Services Committee that met in an off-cycle session on December 11th. There were two points of special interest. One was an extended discussion of some arrangements whereby UC hospitals, some of which are at capacity, form partnership arrangements with other area hospitals to pick up some of the load. Of particular concern to the Committee were arrangements with Catholic hospitals, particularly with regard to such areas as abortion, sterilization, birth control, in vitro fertilization, and end-of-life situations. These areas may or do involve conflict with Catholic religious beliefs. Various assurances were given that the partnerships would not prevent UC patients from having services in these areas.

The other topic of special interest was the area of "disruptive behavior" by medical staff. As it turned out, the discussion - at least to the ears of yours truly - was quite general. Particular cases were not discussed.

You can hear the session at the link below:

or direct to:

Conflict Between Proposed Title 9 Rules and California Policy?

Inside Higher Ed carries an article today about potential conflicts between proposed changes in Title 9 rules put out by the U.S. Dept. of Education and policies in various states including California:

...California’s definition of sexual assault, as included in the Donahoe Higher Education Act, is also much broader than the federal definition. It is as follows:
“Sexual harassment” means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, made by someone from or in the work or educational setting, under any of the following conditions:

  • (a) Submission to the conduct is explicitly or implicitly made a term or a condition of an individual’s employment, academic status, or progress.
  • (b) Submission to, or rejection of, the conduct by the individual is used as the basis of employment or academic decisions affecting the individual.
  • (c) The conduct has the purpose or effect of having a negative impact upon the individual’s work or academic performance, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment.
  • (d) Submission to, or rejection of, the conduct by the individual is used as the basis for any decision affecting the individual regarding benefits and services, honors, programs, or activities available at or through the educational institution.

The University of California System was perhaps the most vocal in criticizing DeVos’s plan right away, issuing a statement last month denouncing several of the projected changes, including that institutions must now hold live hearings to adjudicate sexual violence cases and the adjustment to the sexual harassment definition. California's governor, Democrat Jerry Brown, in 2017 vetoed a bill that would have put the Obama-era rules into state law. At the time, Brown said that state and federal actions may have unintentionally led to due process being violated, and that he would instead convene a "group of knowledgeable persons" that would help develop a sexual harassment policy for the state.

Suzanne Taylor, the interim systemwide Title IX coordinator, said in an interview that UC is preparing to provide comment to the department and that it is studying how the regulations may diverge from the state’s laws...

Full article at

Editorial comment from yours truly: UC has a grievance-and-arbitration arrangement applicable to union-represented employees under the various contracts it signs. Employees penalized for misconduct can avail themselves of these arrangements. Typically, such systems involved a hierarchy of internal review steps and, ultimately, a decision by an outside neutral. There is a long history of external courts generally deferring to such systems because of the due process they provide. And there is a recent history of courts not deferring to internal university Title 9 systems because of due process issues.* Undoubtedly, such systems would have to be modified to handle Title 9-type complaints outside the union-management realm. But it wouldn't hurt to look at such arrangements as a starting point. Indeed, presumably union-represented employees at UC who are accused of Title 9-type violations and penalized for them already have grievance-and-arbitration access. Everyone might benefit from a fresh starting point rather than simply reacting to Dept. of Education initiatives.
*Here is the most recent example in a case from USC:

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Harvard Admissions - Part 17

Asian American who supported Harvard in its admissions case has doubts about process upon reading his own admissions file:

Ira Glass, This American Life, 12-7-18, Episode 663

Listen to audio or read transcript below:


Act 1, the veritas is out there.

So I just found this out that since the 1990s, if you got into college, and you decided to attend the college, at lots of schools, you can work at your own admissions file. See what the admissions people said about you when you were applying. In fancy schools that are hard to get into, you can try to figure out why they decided to admit you in the first place, which lots of kids do.

But the downside is, you might find something you didn't want to see, and then you have to deal with that. Diane Wu does the story of one Harvard student that happened to.

Diane Wu
At Harvard, going to see your admissions file has suddenly got caught up into something much bigger. As you might have heard, Harvard's being sued for allegedly discriminating against Asians. Asian applicants with high GPAs and test scores have a lower acceptance rate than other students with the same numbers.

Harvard does consider a student's race when they apply as one of many factors. The group that's suing them wants them to stop doing that altogether. It's a group called Students For Fair Admissions. They're trying to get rid of affirmative action all across the country. And this case is likely to be appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court.

Alex Zhang is a junior, co-president of the Chinese Students Association. I met him the first week of the trial. He's solidly team Harvard in the lawsuit, because Harvard is on the side of keeping affirmative action.

For him, it was a moral decision. Of course, diversity is good, and getting rid of affirmative action is bad. So he wrote a statement for an amicus brief, and got his student group to sign on to another one.

Friends of his were looking at their admissions files. So Alex decided to go as well, partly because he was curious how his file stacked up against the claims made in the lawsuit. But also, he just wanted to see how he got in. He'd always wanted to find out.

Alex Zhang
I'm really curious about the interview component, because I just feel like that's what did it.

Diane Wu
Did you have a really good interview?

Alex Zhang
Yeah, a really good interview with a really old and experienced alumni.

Diane Wu
The way this usually works-- you meet with an alumni volunteer for an hour or so in a coffee shop or wherever in your hometown. Alex is from Portland, Oregon. He had an exceptional interview. It lasted two hours. Then even more unusual, his interviewer set up a second meeting.

Alex Zhang
He did this whole thing, where he ran through all my extracurriculars, kind of tallied up hours and stuff, just was very rigorous, even asked for some contacts for references, which, apparently, he wasn't supposed to do.

Diane Wu
He was really--

Alex Zhang
He did that because he wanted to have everything on the table for him to advocate for me.

Diane Wu
Alex wanted to know, did this guy get me in? The alumni interview is important at Harvard, because usually, it's the only face-to-face contact the school has with an applicant. And admissions officers use it, plus other information, to assign applicants this thing called a personal rating.

The personal rating is actually the crux of the lawsuit. It's basically a rating of your personality. The words Harvard uses to describe what they're looking for are things like leadership, courage, sense of humor, effervescence. It's like they want to fill the school with future senators, perky Griffindors, and Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde types.

Students for Fair Admissions says the personal rating is where the discrimination happens, where implicit bias leaks in. Because at Harvard, Asian applicants get a lower personal rating than white applicants. Harvard does not dispute those numbers, but says they don't consider an applicant's race when assigning the personal rating.

A couple days after I met him, Alex called me from a study lounge. He'd just gone to see his file, sat with 15 other kids around a table at the registrar's office and paged through it. He wasn't allowed to take the file with him, but could take pictures on his phone. He scrolled through the photos and read parts of it to me.

Alex Zhang
Let me take a quick look. The first sheet is the Harvard scores, so they have this weird coding jargon that I don't really understand yet. I'll probably look it up later.

Diane Wu
We got quickly to the part he was curious about-- the report from his alumni interviewer, which was the most remarkable part of his file. For starters, it was long.

Alex Zhang
My interviewer wrote, like, five pages of notes.

Diane Wu

Alex Zhang
Which I think is kind of unusual.

Diane Wu
It is. Everyone else I checked with had only two pages. Reading through, Alex saw that his interviewer, Jim McCandlish was really going to bat for him. He told Alex that he was one of the best candidates he'd met in more than 20 years of interviewing. Though Alex learned, a lot of Jim's thoroughness-- the extra interview, the references he called-- that was Jim checking into whether or not Alex was for real.

Alex Zhang
It seems like he was skeptical of a lot of stuff I did, at least was concerned about this resume-builder mentality and wanted to verify whether I did that authentic work.

Diane Wu
Like when Alex said he worked on homelessness at the youth commission, Jim wondered, is he just saying that because he googled my law firm and read that I represent disadvantaged people? Quote, "was this a perfect for MIT mechanical engineer playing me?" Perfect for MIT, I guess, is code for too boring for Harvard.

Jim called up Alex's supervisor at the youth commission and found out, no, Alex genuinely cared about homelessness and works there even more than he'd let on. Alex read Jim's interview notes to me matter-of-factly, then paused to note this one section.

Alex Zhang
Oh, here's an interesting portion actually.

Diane Wu
Jim was writing about a conversation he'd had with that supervisor. Apparently, he had asked not just about Alex, but about Alex's mom, too. He writes--

Alex Zhang
She is far from the stereotypical, quote, "tiger mother." His mom is supportive, but not directive. So I guess there's just those two, three sentences on my mom.

Diane Wu
How do you feel about that? How would you feel about that characterization of your mom?

Alex Zhang
I mean, it's true. Yeah, she's supported, but not directive. She pushes me. She pushes me hard, but has always sort of let me push in the direction I wanted.

Diane Wu
Is it weird to you at all that the interviewer is pointing to stereotypes that you aren't? Is he a perfect-for-MIT engineer playing me, or does he have a tiger mom?

Alex Zhang
Oh, yeah. That's a good point.

Diane Wu
As soon as I asked the question, I felt like I overstepped, like I was planting the idea in Alex's head that something racial was going on. But when I heard tiger mother, I thought, there is the implicit bias they're talking about in the lawsuit in a way more explicit form than I was expecting.

Alex did have a strange feeling about it, even if he wasn't sure exactly why.

Alex Zhang
Yeah, that is really weird. I guess it kind of goes into a narrative like the Asian applicant has to disprove certain things to be considered viable for something ivy league.

Diane Wu
In other words, if you want to get into Harvard, don't be too Asian.

Alex Zhang
Hmm. That makes sense. I don't know what his motivations are, my interviewer's motivations. Maybe the interviewer was like, oh, I should distinguish him from other Asians, or maybe he just does it subconsciously.

Diane Wu

Alex Zhang

Diane Wu
There's another thing like this in Jim's notes, another spot where he points to an Asian stereotype and says it doesn't fit Alex. It has to do with the fact that Alex is quiet, which is a stereotype about Asian students. One, actually, that Harvard was called out for using in a 1990 federal investigation.

But in Alex's case, Jim casts it as a plus. He writes, "Alex is reserved, quietly confident, uses language frugally but effectively. There is no teenage patois." Perfect-for-MIT engineer, by the way, also plays into a stereotype of Asians only being interested in science and math. This one didn't bother Alex, though, since he literally wanted to be an engineer when he was applying.

Alex Zhang
The tiger mother part is definitely interesting. No other mom is called a tiger mom. That's what you call a Chinese mom. Only Chinese moms are called tiger moms. It definitely seems like he's trying to disprove what a reviewer might assume about the reasoning for why I do things.

Diane Wu
Yeah. How do you feel about that?

Alex Zhang
I don't know. So he actually has a Chinese wife.

Diane Wu
Is he Chinese? He's not Chinese.

Alex Zhang
No, he's an old white guy, very American, grew up very American, went to Harvard during the time when it was, like, four white people played baseball on the baseball team. Everything's with good intentions. But I think he might just be a little more old-fashioned.

Diane Wu
Alex actually knows Jim pretty well. They kept in touch after his interview. Their families became friends. Alex's mom helped teach Jim's wife how to drive. He gets dinner with Jim whenever he's back home.

Alex left our conversation feeling pretty fine about what he'd read. But then he stepped back into a campus caught in the force field of the lawsuit, where anything to do with race, and bias, and admissions felt hypercharged.

One of the biggest ways the lawsuit has shaken up Harvard is that certain statistics are now public, like the school said that without affirmative action, one out of two black kids wouldn't get it. Latino kids-- they'd lose one out of three. Kids whose parents went to Harvard, who are, by the way, mostly white have a seven times better chance of getting in than regular kids.

It's making students ask questions they'd rather not about how they got in. It's uncomfortable. I talked to two black students who chose not to see their files this fall. Both were worried it would say, let's take her because she's black. They didn't think it would, but still. One of them had the request form open on her computer for more than a week before she decided, nah, maybe senior year.

For Asian students, the question is the opposite. It's not am I here because of my race, but am I here in spite of it? It's cranked people's race goggles up to level 10. One of Alex's friends wrote on Facebook about a comment in her file. "She's a bright student, but what distinguishes her from other bright students?"

To her, this was racially coded. When she read it she saw, she seemed smart, but is there anything that makes her different from other Asian students? Well, if that was racially coded, Alex thought, you should see mine. He texted some close friends from his freshman year Chinese class.

Alex Zhang
I sent a couple screen grabs from my admissions file to them. I was like, hey, I can't get this off my mind. I didn't react that strongly to it until after I saw this stuff online. And now, I'm starting to feel pretty troubled by it.

Diane Wu
What was the part that was troubling to you?

Alex Zhang
My main trouble was, oh, does he feel like he needs to prove that I'm not like other Asians to the admissions office? And is that what it takes to get in nowadays? Most other college interviewers, I just talked for, like, an hour, an hour and a half. But Jim was doing a background check, you know? Why did he feel the need to do so rigorous of a background check?

Diane Wu
Alex's friends saw his screen grab saying tiger mom and perfect-for-MIT engineer and texted him back, oh, my god and that's kind of horrible. Tiger mom was actually a lot more explicit than any of the examples of bias that came up at the trial. It was really a fight over statistics and economic models, but a few stereotypes did come up. They were subtle. Things like Harvard referring to Asian applicants as one-dimensional or book smart.

Alex wanted to see what Jim was actually thinking when he wrote tiger mother. See if it really was a racial thing, like his friends were saying. So he gave him a call. Alex taped the call and with Jim's permission, sent it to me.

First, they catch up a little bit. Alex tells Jim about how he went to go see his file. He mentions an op-ed he co-wrote for the student newspaper.

Alex Zhang
Did you read the op-ed I wrote, by any chance? I don't think I sent it to you.

Jim McCandlish
Yes, you did send it. I read it, and I totally regret that I did not respond. It was very well done.

Diane Wu
It was very well done, Jim says.

Alex Zhang
Oh, really? You thought so?

Jim McCandlish

Alex Zhang
I'm glad you thought so.

Diane Wu
They talk about the lawsuit. And before Alex can even bring up tiger moms, Jim volunteers his own ideas about implicit bias in admissions. He's been thinking about the effect of the interviewer's biases because--

Jim McCandlish
Most likely, at least certainly from a place like Oregon, the interviewer is Caucasian. And we know there are stereotypes. I'm just curious how that plays out. If you have an expectation that an Asian interviewee is going to have a drab personality or meek and mild, you may play into your stereotype and not develop the rapport that would defeat the stereotype or at least resist it. You're in a really gray area of human nature.

Diane Wu
Jim, of course, went above and beyond to spend the time with Alex to get that rapport, to make sure he really understood Alex as an individual, not to write him off immediately.

Alex Zhang
So I'm actually kind of curious about some stuff you wrote. Yeah, so you wrote five pages of notes. There's probably 2,000 words at least.

Jim McCandlish

Alex Zhang
Yeah, and most of that was in the personal quality section, which I was the most curious about reading.

Jim McCandlish
OK. So here I am right on the edge. What do they say?

Diane Wu
It takes another eight minutes for Alex to get the nerve to bring it up-- tiger mom.

Alex Zhang
You mentioned that you asked her about my parents.

Jim McCandlish
Yeah, I was trying to figure out whether or not you were basically driven by the parents in any way.

Alex Zhang
You use the term tiger mother, saying my mom's not like that. That's very much affiliated with Asian parenting. So when I read that, it just was a little unexpected.

Jim McCandlish
Well, recall, I live with one.

Diane Wu
I live with one, Jim's saying. He's talking about his wife, who is Chinese. They have a young daughter.

Jim McCandlish
I live with a tiger mom and fight it all the time.

Alex Zhang
You think that's a particularly Chinese thing?

Jim McCandlish
I think the Chinese on the west side have a very definite, strong influence that way.

Diane Wu
West side-- Jim's talking about the wealthier side of Portland where he and Alex lived.

Jim McCandlish
No question in my mind.

Alex Zhang
Huh, gotcha. Because for me, it's kind of like, if you had a Chinese applicant, would you be suspicious that perhaps their parent or their mom was like that?

Jim McCandlish
If I saw somebody, Alex, that had their fingers in a lot of pies, and I had no way to ascertain the depth of what they were doing-- what I'm looking for and looked for was the person who was thriving on their own, that is self-motivated. And it isn't just Chinese. I use that term because I'm an Amy Tan Fan.

Diane Wu
Amy Tan wrote The Joy Luck Club. Apparently, after this conversation, Jim's wife told him that she did not also write Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. That was Amy Chua. His wife offered to buy him the book.

Jim McCandlish
But anybody I interview, the longer I did it, the more suspicious I was.

Diane Wu
After doing these interviews for 20 years, Jim was not naive to kids puffing up their extracurriculars or getting coached on how to act in the interview. He's saying he was tough on everyone.

I talked to Jim later. He didn't want to be recorded, but he was open about what he wrote. He told me, yeah, part of what he was doing was overtly pointing out to the admissions officers that Alex was different from other Chinese-American applicants. That this young man did not fit whatever stereotypes that he or the admissions officers might have. And his no-holds-barred strategy to get Alex in, it seemed to work.

The first reviewer, who went through Alex's file before his interview, wrote, "hope the alumni interview can add." The next reviewer saw Jim's report, then wrote, "interview in and is pretty remarkable for its in-depth review, comes out in the right place and is reassuring."

Besides his write-up, Jim gave Alex a personal rating of 1, the highest possible score. He gave Alex ones across all categories. The official admissions officers were not as effusive. They gave him a 2 for his personal rating, twos and threes for the rest. Wrote that his personal qualities seem to be still evolving.

Alex Zhang
After I read mine, my impression was that if you hadn't written such an in-depth, positive review that I probably wouldn't have gotten it, which is kind of an interesting thought.

Jim McCandlish
That's surprises me. You were at the top of everything. That surprises me. I thought I was a gravy.

Alex Zhang
Yeah, I really appreciate how much you did.

Jim McCandlish
Well, I appreciate you. So how was New York?

Diane Wu
They go on to talk about Alex's summer job in Manhattan, the classes he's taking this fall. Jim starts in on a story about his kid before telling Alex, oh, hey, turn that recorder off.

I met up with Alex again after that phone call. He wasn't totally satisfied by it, thought Jim didn't get the gravity of tiger mother, hadn't thought it all the way through. But he had no hard feelings.

Though when Alex thought more about tiger mother, he realized, it was not just the use of the term that unsettled him, but also, the assumption that it was a bad thing in the first place. Something that Harvard would want to make sure none of its students had.

Alex Zhang
This idea that a tiger mom would even be-- I know it is a thing in our culture for a lot of parents, but also is weird that there's a fixation on that by American society. Also, the question is, why does it matter if your parents pushed you in that way? Is that not part of your upbringing and who you are now?

I don't know. There seems to be these very negative connotations about the way Asians are raised or the way that they behave growing up. And it just seems like there's this very deeply ingrained prejudice and misunderstanding.

Diane Wu
Alex, personally, was grateful for when his mom pushed him when he was younger.

Alex Zhang
I remember in high school, my mom was gave me a lot of pressure. Make sure you connect with the teachers and talk to them during break time, so they can get to know you, because it's really important. They're going to have to write you recommendations. And I didn't want to do it, but I guess I had to.

Diane Wu
Your mom was on the ball.

Alex Zhang
Yeah, she's really on top of stuff, which is really good. Because she did it without killing me, overworking me. She's a really good mom.

Diane Wu
In race-conscious admissions, it's not just the university that's conscious of race. It's also the applicants themselves. Almost all the students of color I asked had considered whether and how to portray their race in their package. Just one white student had.

Alex is from a mostly white neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. Growing up, his classmates often couldn't see past his race. They teased him for having a flat face, about being a nerd. One girl exclusively called him Asian instead of Alex.

In middle school, he started playing basketball, partly to downplay his Chinese-ness, fit in with the white kids. Out on the court, though, someone would still always call him Yao Ming. But he didn't write about any of that in his personal essay.

Instead, it's about how he transforms from a lonely elementary school kid playing video games by himself to big man on campus at his high school.

Diane Wu
You didn't talk about race in your essay. That's not the topic. It doesn't mention race at all. Was that part of the subtext of what you were writing, looking back on it?

Alex Zhang
Probably, yeah. In high school, I had a lot of internalized hatred about being Asian. I had this whole perception that I needed to differentiate myself. So I think one of my views is that, oh, we aren't seen. This also goes to myself being really cautious of the system or potential biases.

So I was like, oh, I probably need to show that I have been more social, or I have been a leader, have done these cool things.

Diane Wu
It struck me that it might be that while you were preparing your application, you were making some similar-ish calculation to maybe what Jim was making.

Alex Zhang

Diane Wu
Not I want to differentiate myself from all other applicants, but I extra want to differentiate myself from other Asian applicants.

Alex Zhang
Probably. And again, looking back, I don't like it in the same way that I don't like if Jim would have had to talk me up just because I'm Asian. I don't like that I [INAUDIBLE] that way if it was because of that.

Diane Wu
I asked Alex if what he saw in his file shifted his position at all in the lawsuit. No, he said. To him, tiger mom was weird for sure, but it wasn't discrimination. It didn't sway the argument one way or another. For Alex, what he saw in his file, what his friends have been seeing, it's more personal.

Alex Zhang
A lot of the comments my friends have been making and stuff, they're not things that make as much of an argument for either side as much as, like, oh, this is what being Asian is like.

Diane Wu
In other words, even when you make it into one of the fanciest colleges in the world, when you finally feel like people see you for who you are, your whole complicated self, just one word or phrase can snap you out of it. Remind you, right, right, this is how they see me. This is how it really works.

Ira Glass
Diane Wu is one of the producers of our show.

The Issue Continues

U of Michigan to Close Confucius Institute

By Elizabeth Redden, December 12, 2018, Inside Higher Ed

The University of Michigan will close its Confucius Institute next year when the current agreement governing the institute expires.

“This transition is driven by a desire to more broadly include the work of exploring and studying Chinese visual and performing arts within U-M’s regular academic and cultural units,” James Holloway, Michigan's vice provost for global engagement and interdisciplinary academic affairs, said in an announcement. Michigan said programming at the Confucius Institute will continue through June of next year.

The Confucius Institutes -- Chinese-government funded centers of language and cultural education housed on about 100 U.S. university campuses -- have come under increased scrutiny over the last few years as a number of political figures have called for their closure. Chief among the critics is U.S. senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, who has characterized the institutes as part of a broader effort by the Chinese government to influence American academia and stifle critical analysis of China's history and politics.

Criticism has also come from within academe. The American Association of University Professors has recommended that universities should renegotiate their agreements to ensure academic control of the institutes and academic freedom for all instructors or otherwise cease their involvement. The National Association of Scholars published a report last year recommending closure of the institutes and finding that in hosting them "universities have made improper concessions that jeopardize academic freedom and institutional autonomy."

Supporters of the institutes say they provide valuable resources to offer Chinese language and cultural programming, and that the concerns about academic freedom and institutional autonomy are unfounded or overstated.

Other American and Canadian universities that have moved to close their Confucius Institutes for various reasons include the University of Chicago, Pennsylvania State University, McMaster University and the Universities of North Florida and West Florida. In April the chancellor of the Texas A&M University system announced the closure of two Confucius Institutes -- one on A&M's main campus in College Station and the other at the Prairie View campus -- after two congressmen wrote an open letter describing the institutes as "a threat to our nation’s security by serving as a platform for China’s intelligence collection and political agenda." The letter from the two congressmen, Representatives Henry Cuellar, a Democrat, and Michael McCaul, a Republican, referenced comments from the Federal Bureau of Investigation director, Christopher Wray, who said in February that the FBI is concerned about the Confucius Institutes and has "developed appropriate investigative steps" in relation to them.


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Public Charge

Inside Higher Ed notes that UC president Janet Napolitano and two other UC executives have sent a letter to the Dept. of Homeland Security criticizing a proposal to expansion of the "public charge" rule for immigrants:

A number of colleges and higher education groups have registered their opposition to a proposed rule by the Trump administration that would redefine how the government determines an immigrant or nonimmigrant visitor is likely to become a “public charge” and thus ineligible for a green card or other change of immigration status. Current regulations dating to 1999 hold that an immigrant can be deemed inadmissible or ineligible for a change in immigration status if they are determined to be "likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence." Whereas the government has previously taken into account the acceptance of cash benefits in determining whether an immigrant is likely to be a "public charge," the proposed rule would consider any use of a wider range of noncash public benefits -- including use of food stamps, nonemergency Medicaid and public housing assistance -- as “heavily weighed negative factors” in making these determinations...

Full story at

The UC letter can be found at:

Open vs. Closed - Part 2

12-11-18 (Via Email)

Dear Colleagues:
As you may know, the UC Libraries are negotiating a new contract with the scholarly journal publishing giant Elsevier. We are deeply concerned with these negotiations because of the amount of money involved and the control Elsevier exerts over the intellectual efforts of UC’s faculty, researchers, and staff.
UC is collectively paying Elsevier more than $11.5 million for its journals, products, and services. In addition, countless UC faculty members, researchers, and staff members write and review articles published in those journals and serve on their editorial boards. The company’s profit margin is 40%, much of it earned from your intellectual capital and unpaid work. This current situation is unsustainable for the UC system.
While these negotiations are going on, we urge you to consider:
Declining to review articles for Elsevier journals until negotiations are clearly moving in a productive direction.
Looking at other journal publishing options, including prestigious open access journals in your discipline.
Contacting the publisher, if you’re on the editorial board of an Elsevier journal, and letting them know that you share the negotiators’ concerns.
Using UC’s open access policies to make your final pre-publication manuscript publicly accessible.
We will update you if there is any substantive news to report from the negotiations. Elsevier has begun contacting journal editors at some campuses, and its message doesn’t fully represent all sides of the issue or what is being discussed in the negotiations. If you receive the Elsevier message and would like to discuss it, please contact Joseph Bristow ( or 310-825-4173) or Ginny Steel ( or 310-825-1201).
The UC Libraries are working on alternative access methods should they become necessary; while we very much hope that will not be the case, we will nevertheless notify you immediately if negotiations reach that point.
Thank you for your attention to this important issue.
Scott L. Waugh
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
Joseph E. Bristow
Chair, Academic Senate
Distinguished Professor, English
Ginny Steel
Norman and Armena Powell University Librarian

Shared Meter

From the Bruin: Westwood Village is in the final stages of gaining approval for a program that will allow the Village to receive part of the revenue generated from its parking meters.

In May, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation selected the Westwood Village Improvement Association, a nonprofit organization tasked with improving the state of the Village, as a candidate to participate in a pilot parking revenue program. The pilot program is scheduled for approval by the Los Angeles City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee on Monday, after which it will need the approval of the full City Council.

Andrew Thomas, executive director of the association, said 15 percent of the revenue from parking meters will go back into the WVIA to improve the Village once the program is approved. Currently, all parking meter revenue generated by Westwood goes to the City of Los Angeles.

Thomas said Westwood generates about $1.5 million in parking meter revenue each year, so this program will give the neighborhood around $225,000 in funds. He added the funds will go to improving infrastructure and public space in the Village as well as parking access and sidewalks.

“We have an opportunity to do a lot of infrastructure improvement. We also have the opportunity to look into innovative programs to help with parking in our district,” Thomas said. “We could set up a district-wide valet system, for example, which has been something our board members have talked about.”
The funds will be managed by the WVIA along with the LADOT, which sets the parameters and rules on how to use the money, as the money belongs to the city, Thomas said. Although the specific restrictions have not been finalized yet, the funds will have to be used for services related to transportation and parking, he added...

Donald Shoup, an urban planning professor at UCLA, said this program has had success in other cities including San Diego, Houston and Boston. “Take a look at Pasadena, the place it was first implemented,” Shoup said. “The funds were used by the city to turn what was essentially a skid row into Old Pasadena, one of Southern California’s most popular tourist destinations.” ...

Full story at:

The Regents Health Committee is Coming Today to UCLA...

...and it is going to discuss disruption:

For Meeting of December 11, 2018

UCLA Health Chief Medical Officer Robert Cherry, M.D. and Deputy General Counsel Rachel Nosowsky will discuss what is referred to as “disruptive behavior” in the healthcare setting and work UC Health has initiated to more effectively address it.
Clear evidence has developed over the past two decades indicating that disruptive behavior threatens patient safety and is linked with increased professional liability exposure. Yet “the bar for such conduct” in academic institutions, among peers, in professional certification organizations, and even at licensing boards “may be set quite high – e.g., physical abuse, addiction, dishonesty, or a felony conviction.” AMA Journal of Ethics 2015; 17(3): 215-220.
There is no single consensus definition of the term in a hospital setting, but the University recently issued general Guidance on Abusive Conduct and Bullying in the Workplace that includes the following examples: 
- Persistent or egregious use of abusive, insulting, or offensive language directed at an employee
- Behavior or language that frightens, humiliates, belittles, or degrades, including criticism or feedback that is delivered with yelling, screaming, threats, or insults
- Purposefully inappropriately excluding, isolating, or marginalizing a person from normal work activities
In addition, the Academic Personnel Manual (APM 015) prohibits the following conduct:
- Serious violation of University policies governing the professional conduct of faculty, including policies applying to clinical practice
- Forcible detention, threats of physical harm to, or harassment of another member of the University community, that interferes with that person’s performance of University activities 
Dr. Cherry and Ms. Nosowsky will discuss organizational and individual factors that lead to disruptive behavior, the challenges many healthcare organizations face in identifying and effectively addressing disruptive behavior, and tools that have been employed nationally and locally to effect lasting change.
UC Health leaders have prioritized work to improve “safety culture” systemwide. While local initiatives are ongoing at all UC Health locations, the Chief Medical Officers have begun working together to identify, develop, and implement further improvements. This work began with a survey of current practices, which Dr. Cherry will discuss in some detail. Future plans include a focus at the upcoming UC Health leadership retreat on physician engagement and burnout – significant triggers for disruptive behavior; and on an initiative to improve policies, guidance, and analytics to support a culture that, consistent with the University’s mission, values, and vision, promotes patient safety.
Two articles are attached (to the agenda) for additional background information:
As usual, yours truly will archive the audio of the meeting when he gets a chance, since the Regents only preserve their recordings for 1 year.

As long as we're keeping track of Harvard controversies...'s one that seems ripe for the next litigation battle:

Harvard's $39B Endowment Is Reportedly Buying Up California's Vineyards—and Their Water Rights

By KEVIN KELLEHER, December 10, 2018, Fortune

Harvard University’s endowment is reportedly buying up vineyards in California’s wine country, along with the water rights belonging to those properties.

Instead of making the land purchases in its own name, Harvard is using a wholly owned subsidiary—named Brodiaea after the scientific name for the cluster lily—to buy vineyards. Harvard created Brodiaea in 2012, and by 2015 the unit had already purchased 10,000 acres in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties for about $60 million, according to an earlier report by Reuters.

Earlier this year, the Harvard Crimson reported that Brodiaea had continued to buy up land in the area, especially vineyards with good access to ground water. Unlike many California vineyards, the ones owned by Harvard don’t welcome tourists to tastings but instead feature “no trespassing signs” on the properties, the Wall Street Journal said on Monday.

California’s central coast has, like much of the state’s farming region, suffered a long and serious drought since 2011. The drought has led many farms and vineyards to draw from ancient aquifers, making land rights to their underground water an increasingly precious resource. According to UC Berkeley’s California magazine, more than 100 water basins throughout the state have reached critical levels of overdraft.

While some local farmers say they aren’t worried about Harvard’s purchases of vineyards, others—as well as some local politicians—are expressing concern that the groundwater will be used to benefit landowners who are based far away.


Well, it's probably just a drop in the bucket... if you don't drop the bucket:

Monday, December 10, 2018

More Cash

The latest cash report from the state controller shows revenue running ahead of the budget forecast for the first 5 months of the fiscal year to the tune of over $2 billion.

Apart from the official reserve, the state has unused borrowable cash from all sources over $10 billion ahead of forecast levels.

Whether these development produce extra benefits for UC remains to be seen. But it's hard to be gloomy, even with the stock market's current volatility.

The report is at

Some paths lead to trouble... - Part 2

From the Bruin: UCPath representatives spoke to UCLA student workers (last) Thursday about how to resolve ongoing payroll issues after nearly an entire quarter of complaints about being paid incorrectly.
The Undergraduate Students Association Council, the Graduate Students Association and United Auto Workers Local 2865 organized a town hall in which student workers spoke with representatives from the UCLA UCPath team and the UCLA Central Resource Unit, the office that assesses reports of UCPath issues, about how to resolve their individual complaints about the payroll system.
UAW Local 2865 represents over 12,000 UC student workers, including Academic Advancement Program Peer Learning facilitators and College Academic Mentors. UCPath, a new payroll system implemented in September, has led several student employees to receive incorrect paychecks or not receive paychecks at all.
Resident assistants, researchers from various departments and undergraduate Peer Learning facilitators attended the town hall and raised issues such as the lack of clarity regarding who to contact to resolve payroll issues, student workers not receiving paychecks for a second job and CRU closing unresolved cases after four days.
Ricardo Vazquez, a UCLA spokesperson, said in an email statement that UCLA is providing instant pay cards, emergency pay advances and off-cycle checks for student workers experiencing pay issues.
Vazquez added that errors ranging from missing paychecks to disenrollment from benefit plans have affected about 2 percent of UCLA’s employees.
Michelle Viorato, the GSA external vice president, said emergency loans have been particularly inaccessible to certain students.
“Currently, graduate student researchers and teacher assistants are the only ones eligible for interest-free loans that meet the same amount they are supposed to get paid,” she said. “This leaves most undergraduate and some graduate students who are earning more than $350 per paycheck out of luck.” ...

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Harvard and 9

Apart from the litigation against Harvard concerning admissions and single-sex unofficial clubs (which has been discussed in prior blog posts), another lawsuit is pending that could affect UC's procedures with regard to Title 9 complaints. A hearing is set for this coming Tuesday:

Student Sues Harvard for Investigating Alleged Sexual Assault That Took Place Off-Campus

By Angela N. Fu and Molly C. McCafferty, Harvard Crimson, December 3, 2018/Modified December 8, 2018

A Harvard undergraduate has filed suit against the University charging it overstepped when it opened an investigation this October into allegations he raped a non-Harvard student in an apartment building located hundreds of miles from campus in summer 2017. The unnamed male student, dubbed “John Doe” in the complaint, filed a civil lawsuit Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts. He contends that Harvard does not have the authority to open an investigation into sexual assault allegations levied by a non-Harvard student regarding an incident that did not take place on University property. He is demanding Harvard cease to investigate him and pay him $75,000 in damages, as well as compensate him for any costs incurred during litigation.

Doe’s suit states that, during summer 2017, Doe and “Jane Roe” — the unnamed woman he allegedly raped — were both working internships “in a city hundreds of miles away from Harvard.” That city was almost certainly Washington, D.C. Additional court filings state that the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department investigated the alleged assault but ultimately decided not to prosecute the case. Doe wrote in his suit against Harvard that he is currently facing a civil lawsuit filed by Roe.

The University’s Office for Dispute Resolution opened an investigation into Doe in October 2018, according to Doe’s complaint. ODR handles all allegations of sexual or gender-based harassment at Harvard in keeping with Title IX, a federal anti-sex discrimination law. In arguing ODR does not have the jurisdiction to investigate his case, Doe pointed to University policies related to sexual and gender-based harassment. Those policies — available online — apply only to misconduct perpetrated by University affiliates while on campus or in connection with University-recognized activities. The policy also covers harassment that may create a “hostile environment” for other Harvard affiliates.

Doe, though, is likely subject to both University policy and guidelines followed by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) as a student of the College. The University's overarching policy — which Doe referenced — does not preclude schools within Harvard from producing and enforcing their own, more expansive sets of rules. FAS policies and procedures are broader in scope than comparable University policies. Per its guidelines, FAS may hold all students to the expectation that they behave in a “in a mature and responsible manner” no matter where they are.

“It is the expectation of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences that all students, whether or not they are on campus or are currently enrolled in a degree program, will behave in a mature and responsible manner,” the policy reads. “Consistent with this principle, sexual and gender-based misconduct are not tolerated by the FAS even when, because they do not have the effect of creating a hostile environment for a member of the University community, they fall outside the jurisdiction of the University Policy.”

Recent federal Title IX guidelines proposed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos could complicate Doe’s suit. The new rules, released by the department on Nov. 16, limit the scope of acts of sexual harassment universities are required to investigate. Specifically, the rules stipulate schools are not required to open investigations into alleged acts of sexual misconduct that took place outside the bounds of a school "program or activity."

In his complaint, Doe charges Harvard with two counts: breach of contract and breach of covenant of faith and fair dealing. He alleges that, in allowing him to attend classes in exchange for “substantial amounts of money,” Harvard created a reasonable expectation that Doe would earn a degree from the school. One possible outcome of an ODR investigation is expulsion.

“Harvard has breached, and is breaching, its contractual obligations by subjecting Mr. Doe to a disciplinary process that—in the ways, and for the reasons, set out above—is arbitrary, capricious, malicious, and being conducted in bad faith,” the complaint states. Harvard spokesperson Rachael Dane declined to comment.

The complaint states that Doe met Roe on the night of July 22, 2017 at a party held at Roe’s apartment. There, they “engaged in sexual activity,” to which Doe alleges Roe consented. Roe, however, alleges Doe raped her, according to the lawsuit. The suit states Roe later filed a complaint with the local police department. Roe filed a civil personal injury suit against Doe in March 2018. That suit is currently ongoing.

Doe states that ODR informed him that the investigation into him is based on Roe’s allegations. In an email submitted as an exhibit in the lawsuit, Ilissa K. Povich, ODR senior investigator, wrote that the College Title IX coordinator filed the case, then reached out to Roe to ask her to participate as a complainant in the investigation.

After first questioning ODR’s jurisdiction, Doe asked Povich to temporarily suspend the investigation pending the results of the lawsuit filed in March by Roe. Doe stated a simultaneous ODR investigation would have a “serious impact” on his ability to defend himself in the ongoing civil case, according to the complaint. But Povich rejected this request, stating that Harvard University Police Department confirmed with D.C. police that law enforcement did not plan to investigate the allegations, according to an email filed as an exhibit.

Though FAS policy allows the school to pause an investigation in order to avoid interfering with active criminal investigations, it does not mention the possibility of deferring an investigation to accommodate ongoing civil litigation. 

In his complaint, Doe states that the ODR investigation is unnecessary because Roe is already “assured of having her day in court” through her civil suit. He adds that, in that suit, Doe “will be entitled to all the protections of a defendant in a civil case,” including subpoena power and the right to cross-examine Roe and other witnesses. On Nov. 15, Harvard temporarily paused its investigation into Doe, the complaint states. It reopened the investigation on Nov. 27 “with no changes to its existing procedures” and requested an interview with Doe the next day, according to the complaint.

Doe noted in his complaint that the temporary suspension of the investigation coincided with the Education Department’s release of new Title IX guidelines — “rules with which Harvard’s current proceedings do not comply,” the suit reads.

University spokesperson Melodie L. Jackson did not respond to questions regarding Harvard’s decision to pause the investigation and whether it related to DeVos’s new guidelines. In addition to filing a motion requesting a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction, Doe has filed a motion to proceed with the case under a pseudonym. Judge Indira Talwani ’82, who is presiding over the case, set a date of Dec. 11 for a hearing on Doe’s motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction.