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Monday, February 19, 2018

Our Presidents' Day Post

Our contribution:

Part 1:


Part 2:


Part 3:

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Dirks

Former Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks is apparently writing a book about about the history of universities. This endeavor may be a continuation of a project that was underway when he was chancellor and delivered what amounted to a lecture on undergraduate education to the regents.*

In an interview today in the LA Times, he is quoted as follows:

While the American university has become the world standard for excellence in teaching and research, it has also been under growing attack. It’s the whole set of headlines from the cost disease, the irresponsibility of administrators, the runaway nature of college sports, the prohibitions on free speech, the coddling of students, the incidents of sexual harassment. … It’s a call to arms for people to step up and … call out the fact that this kind of generalized attack has really been chipping away at any kind of previous consensus that public universities really do provide a significant public good. … A lot of it is a function of our polarized political situation. But I also think it’s because there's a sense that universities like Berkeley are public in name only and they're not really open to the public.

Full interview at http://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-edu-dirks-uc-berkeley-20180218-htmlstory.html
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*Lecture at the link below:

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Open for business

From the BruinUCLA said it has no plans to shut down a Chinese language and culture center affiliated with the Chinese government, despite comments from federal authorities who believe the center expands China’s political influence.
Christopher Wray, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said in a Congressional hearing Tuesday that the bureau was concerned about Confucius Institutes, which are educational centers for Chinese language and culture at universities worldwide. Wray’s comments followed a question from Sen. Marco Rubio, who last week called on universities to close Confucius Institutes.
“It’s one of many tools that (China) takes advantage of. … It is something that we’re watching warily and in certain instances have developed appropriate investigative steps,” Wray said at the hearing.
Wray added the FBI has seen instances in which Chinese students and professors collect intelligence on behalf of Chinese agencies and the government.
Confucius Institutes are funded by both Office of Chinese Language Council International, a Chinese government-affiliated organization, and universities at which they are based. UCLA opened a Confucius Institute in 2006.
UCLA spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez said in a statement the UCLA Confucius Institute provides training and programs for students and members of the public who want to become proficient in the Chinese language and learn more about Chinese culture. He added the institute helps train K-12 Mandarin-language teachers in California schools...

Friday, February 16, 2018

Birds

Bird Scooters Pose Campus Safety Concerns

A growing number of people on campus are using electric scooters from Bird Rides. UCLA prioritizes the safety of the campus community, and as such, UCLA Transportation would like to highlight the importance of campus road safety and California laws regarding electric scooters. UCLA currently does not have an agreement with Bird but has begun discussions regarding a potential partnership.

California Vehicle Code (CVC) 407.5(a) defines a motorized scooter as any two-wheeled device that has handlebars, has a floorboard that is designed to be stood upon when riding, and is powered by an electric motor. CVC 21235 mandates that all scooter riders in California:

  • Must wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet
  • Have a valid driver license
  • Ride on the road and remain off sidewalks
  • May not park scooters on a sidewalk in a position that blocks pedestrian paths

Be aware of your surroundings as you may not be seen or heard by other vehicles. Drive defensively. Please be safe and ride responsibly. Use common sense; these scooters are motorized vehicles, not toys, operating on streets.

Source: http://beagreencommuter.com/bird-scooters-pose-campus-safety-concerns/

Note: Casual observation suggests that the four rules listed above are generally violated. The City of Santa Monica sued the operator and recently reached a settlement. See the link below:
http://santamonicalookout.com/ssm_site/the_lookout/news/News-2018/February-2018/02_15_2018_Bird_Rides_Agrees_to_No_Contest_Plea_More_Than_300000_in_Fines_in_Santa_Monica_Case.html

LAO on higher ed funding

The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) has issued a new report on higher ed funding (UC, CSU, community colleges). As in previous reports, the LAO continues to fret about whether UC is admitting more than the top 12.5% of high school students, as per the old Master Plan of 1960. It also doesn't like the tendency for funding to be detached from actual enrollment.

LAO notes that faculty pay is below the comparison-8 because it is below the private universities in that grouping. But pay is above the public universities. After pointing to this (now longstanding) situation, LAO seems to draw no conclusion.

Below is an executive summary of its findings on UC:

UC’s budget is affected by certain key cost drivers—most notably employee compensation, enrollment growth, its academic quality initiatives, and facility projects. The Legislature likely will want to consider supporting certain faculty and staff compensation increases in 2018‑19. We note, however, that UC faculty salaries remain very competitive relative to other public universities that conduct intensive research. Regarding enrollment growth, we believe UC’s funding redirection plan to support 1,500 additional students in 2018‑19 generally is consistent with legislative intent. We recommend enrollment decisions for 2019‑20 be made within the context of any broader discussion on UC eligibility. We recommend the Legislature consider additional funding for UC’s academic quality initiatives as lower priority. Though UC’s student‑to‑faculty ratio has increased the past several years, its student outcomes have continued to improve. Finally, several of UC’s proposed capital outlay projects lack sufficient justification. For example, four projects entail relatively large, expensive expansions despite UC providing no systemwide analysis of existing unused capacity. Whatever cost increases it ultimately supports for UC, we encourage the Legislature to think about how to share those costs between the state and nonfinancially needy students. (The state covers tuition for financially needy students.)

And below are LAO's recommendations:

University of California
  • Determine which University of California (UC) cost increases to support in 2018‑19 and consider sharing these cost increases between the state, nonfinancially needy California students, nonresident students, and other savings and fund sources.
  • Use UC’s planned programmatic reductions and redirections as a starting point to fund enrollment growth in 2018‑19.
  • Make enrollment growth decisions for 2019‑20 consistent with any broader decision regarding UC eligibility pools.
  • If UC is unable to attain a 2‑to‑1 transfer ratio at each campus, consider establishing a systemwide ratio to give UC more flexibility to meet the target while still ensuring transfer access. Also encourage UC to pursue efforts to simplify the transfer process and accelerate time to degree for entering transfer students.
  • Signal to UC that funding for its academic quality initiatives is a lower priority for 2018‑19. Were the Legislature interested in providing additional funds for more targeted purposes, specify the use of the funding in the budget act.
  • After making decisions regarding eligibility, direct UC to develop a systemwide enrollment plan that includes (1) enrollment projections based on anticipated demographic changes and eligibility criteria, (2) strategies to maximize the use of existing facilities across the system before adding new space, and (3) clear justification for the need to add space within the system.
  • Direct UC to report on construction costs per square foot and explain any variation in these costs for the same type of space across campuses. To the extent UC is unable to provide sufficient justification for the differences contained in its four 2018‑19 proposals for new academic buildings, we recommend the state withhold authorization of those projects.
  • Require UC to develop a long‑term plan to (1) retire its maintenance backlog and (2) improve its ongoing maintenance practices moving forward to prevent a backlog from reemerging.
  • Direct UC to report in spring hearings on its current efforts to reduce pressure for new physical library storage space and expand its digital collections.

The full publication is at:
http://www.lao.ca.gov/Publications/Report/3748

Much of what is to be found in the recommendations is micro-management. Now you can argue that the Regents, or UCOP, or someone, needs to do it. I think, however, that you would have a hard time arguing that the legislature (120 members) attempting to do it is feasible. An interesting question (not asked) is whether other top universities do it better.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Money Loser for UC/UCLA

House Republicans’ rewrite of the Higher Education Act was a dud in almost all respects for student aid advocates and higher education associations. But in its proposal for the Federal Work-Study formula, the bill appeared to deliver on calls to make the program’s funding allocation more equitable.

The work-study formula has long been criticized for unfairly favoring elite private colleges in the Northeast.

Under the PROSPER Act -- as House Republicans have deemed their bill -- those are the institutions that would lose out the most on funding, according to an analysis by the American Council on Education.

The new formula would distribute funding in some surprising ways, however. Community colleges would see a big boost in work-study funding. But for-profit colleges would, too.

...The list of colleges potentially losing the most under the new formula does include some large public institutions with high proportions of Pell recipients, like University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Washington Seattle. But they also include elite private colleges like Harvard, Northwestern and Cornell Universities.

The formula in the PROSPER Act was designed to move the distribution of work-study funds away from a system that awards traditional participants in the program like those institutions. It phases out existing base allocations over several years, instead rewarding institutions that serve a high proportion of Pell students. A separate formula for any program funding above $700 million would reward colleges that have success working with Pell students.

According to ACE’s projections, big winners in terms of total new work-study funds under PROSPER's formula, meanwhile, include public four-year institution Georgia State University, the for-profit Florida Career College and the private American Baptist Theological Seminary.

House Republicans say that’s because those campuses are the ones serving the students with the most need. A GOP committee spokesman said the PROSPER Act is the biggest expansion of the work-study program ever.

“Through the much [needed] formula reform, work-study dollars would flow to those institutions serving the neediest students rather than those charging students the highest tuition,” the spokesman said.

But ACE said the work-study formula shouldn’t be discussed without acknowledging the elimination of the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, the other major remaining campus-based aid program. While critics of work-study have said it is not distributed equitably, SEOG was weighted toward campuses with the most Pell recipients. And while the bill proposes doubling the size of the work-study program, it eliminates the $732 million in campus-based aid from SEOG.

The group also says the exclusion of graduate students from work-study fits within a larger framework in the PROSPER Act that disadvantages those students.

In 2016-17, more than 13,000 students in the University of California system received work-study aid, said Claire Doan, a spokeswoman for the system. That figure included about 800 graduate students, who would be ineligible for the program under the House legislation.

The University of California, Berkeley, and UCLA, the two biggest recipients in the California system, would lose about $2.2 million in work-study funding in year six of ACE's projections.

“By reducing the funding to Federal Work-Study and similar campus-based financial aid programs, students will have to find alternative funding sources, such as loans,” Doan said. “Further, if these students do not have access to federal loans because they are capped, they would be forced to seek out private loans, which do not offer the same consumer protections.”...

Full story at:
https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2018/02/14/projections-show-house-work-study-proposal-would-benefit-profits-community-colleges

Now you will see him; now you won't

Back in the hat
The UCLA Republican club recently invited, and then quickly cancelled, a talk by Milo Yiannopoulos on "10 Things I Hate About Mexico." The cancellation was apparently a response to an open letter by sociology Prof. Gabriel Rossman who is an adviser to the Bruin Republicans. The letter, which appeared in the conservative Weekly Standard, is below, followed by a response from Chancellor Block:

An open letter to the Bruin Republicans,

I was very glad to meet everyone at a recent lunch. You seem to be a great group of students with serious aspirations and a strong interest in conservatism. As you will recall, in my remarks I expressed the hope that you would follow the traditional debating society model of the Harvard Republicans rather than the épater les SJWs* performance art model of the University of Colorado Republicans as described in Binder and Wood’s Becoming Right. You will also recall a very specific corollary I mentioned: Do not invite Milo Yiannopoulos. It was for this reason that I was surprised when I learned Tuesday that you were doing exactly that, and for a talk entitled “10 Things I Hate About Mexico.”

One thing I left out of my remarks about the impact of the ideological skew of academia is that the dearth of conservative faculty means a lack of mentorship for conservative students. Which is part of the reason you see students at places such as University of Colorado engaging in ill-conceived political theater that can be amusing and provocative—but is ultimately counter-productive.

As one of the few conservative faculty at UCLA, and one of a very few who knows the campus club, I feel obligated to provide some mentorship here: I strongly urge you to rescind your invitation to Yiannopoulos. Allow me to explain why.

The most important reason not to host such a talk is that it is evil on the merits. Your conscience should tell you that you never want anything to do with someone whose entire career is not reasoned argument, but shock jock performance art. In the 1980s conservatives made fun of “artists” who defecated on stage for the purpose of upsetting conservatives. Now apparently, conservatives are willing to embrace a man who says despicable things for the purpose of “triggering snowflakes.” The change in performance art from the fecal era to the present is yet another sign that no matter how low civilization goes, there is still room for further decline.

I want to be clear that my point here is not that some people will be offended, but that the speaker is purely malicious.

Many speakers and many speeches will offend people, especially given the sense among many on the campus left that they are entitled to complete isolation from ideas with which they disagree.

This is different.

Looking at the fall quarter calendar, I see Richard Sander, Rafael Dagnesses, Keith Fink, and Ben Shapiro recently gave talks sponsored by your group. Lots of people disagree with these speakers, and I disagree with some of them about certain points, but none of them are malicious.

I can understand why some people were offended by Heather Mac Donald’s ideas when she spoke on campus last year. But reasonable people can disagree about whether all Americans, and especially African Americans, on net benefit from aggressive policing. More to the point, Mac Donald expresses her pro-police position without animus, so sponsoring her talk was an entirely legitimate and honorable thing to do.

If the Bruin Republicans were considering a talk with a journalist or scholar giving a temperate and reasoned lecture on “ten reasons why Mexico’s social development lags,” then it could be a very reasonable event to host, even if people were offended by it.

I would also caution you to expect that speakers who take ideas seriously are often repelled by association with deliberately offensive speakers. For instance, when the organizers of “Free Speech Week” at Berkeley circulated a list of (proposed) speakers, Charles Murray told the Chronicle of Higher Education that he “would never under any circumstances appear at an event that included Milo Yiannopoulos.” Obviously, Murray is someone whose ideas many people find offensive, but he expresses them without hatred and so declines to appear with someone he (correctly) considers a “despicable asshole.” Likewise, I know many conservative writers, but I imagine an invitation would be much less attractive to them (nor would I extend it) if they had to bring Lysol to clean the podium from the prior occupant.

There are other reasons not to associate yourselves with Yiannopoulos. Whether or not anyone notices, you want to be on the side of the person getting attacked for being a Jew (such as Ben Shapiro, who you have hosted before), not the person who mocks that Jew by dressing midgets in kippahs (and on a separate occasion debases “America the Beautiful” by singing it to an audience of giggling Nazis as they throw sieg heils).

The merits are more important than appearances, of course, but the fact is that people will notice if the Bruin Republicans host someone offering nothing more than alt-right camp and this is a secondary reason not to do so.

You need to ask yourselves, what is your goal as an organization? If you’re in it for the lulz and just want to see the world burn, then I guess go ahead and bring in a vapid provocateur.

But if your mission is to spread conservative ideas, you should recognize that hosting Yiannopoulos will only render your organization and our ideas toxic. The left often suspects that principled conservative positions are actually born of racism. Conservatives have traditionally pushed back against this criticism. Here at UCLA, that will be a much less tenable argument for Bruin Republicans to make if they host a talk by someone whose sole recommendation is that his offensiveness to others is his big idea.

My understanding of the proposed Yiannopoulos event is that it is intended in part to be a fundraiser. Remember the question Jesus asks in the synoptic gospels, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” In the case of the Bruin Republicans, the question is not poignant but pathetic: What does it profit a club to cover the costs of an event—and maybe get enough to cover an end-of-year party—if they lose their integrity and reputation.

I am a strong believer in freedom of political speech. However, there is a distinction between tolerating speech and sponsoring speech. Neither I, nor you, nor Chancellor Block have the right to say that Milo Yiannopoulos cannot give a speech on campus.

But neither does that mean that I, or you, or Chancellor Block needs to actively invite him and actively promote his childish provocations. If he wants to stand on Bruin Walk ranting with the other creeps and lunatics, he can do so. I believe people have the right to do all sorts of things in the privacy of their own homes, but that doesn’t mean that I would invite them to do them in my living room for an audience of me and my dinner guests.

If you go through with hosting Yiannopoulos, I will vociferously support your right to do so—and the duty of the UCPD to use force if necessary to maintain order and prevent a heckler’s veto. However, I must just as vehemently and publicly disagree with your decision to host him.

Specifically, should the event go forward, I will decline to have any association with the Bruin Republicans until it has experienced a complete turnover in membership. I hope that will not be the case and that I can continue to support you.

Sincerely,
Gabriel Rossman

Extracted from full article at http://www.weeklystandard.com/open-letter-to-the-bruin-republicans-who-invited-milo-yiannopoulos-to-ucla/article/2011582

*Note: "épater les SJWs" = "shock the social justice warriors"

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After the announcement of the cancellation, Chancellor Block issued the following emailed statement:

To the Campus Community:

Free speech and intellectual debate, even when uncomfortable, are critical for thriving communities. And yet some speech, although legally protected, is intended primarily to insult, demean and spark outrage among members of our community.

Recently a student group invited an outside speaker to give a talk on campus. The title of the talk referenced what the speaker "hated" about Mexico – a country with deep ties to our city, our state and our nation. This is also a country that is an important part of the heritage of many Bruins. The expression of disdain did not appear to be an attempt to engage in reasoned discussion, but rather a move by the speaker to gain notoriety through a mean-spirited, racially tinged publicity stunt. This kind of tactic and his rhetoric are totally contrary to our values. I was grateful to learn earlier today that the sponsoring student group decided to cancel the event.

As a prominent university, we will continue to be a target for such provocateurs. I hope we will all continue to resist such provocations and further nurture our campus culture, which values ideas over hatred.

Sincerely,
Gene D. Block
====

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Yes, we'll have no bananas?

From the San Diego Union-Tribune: Once again, a free speech controversy has erupted at an American university.

This time, it’s UC San Diego. The fight involves Woody Allen. It involves the #MeToo movement as well as speech. And some of the main figures aren’t speaking freely. At least not at the moment.

At the center of it all is Savanah Lyon, a 23-year-old theater major who is demanding that the campus stop teaching a course on Allen’s films because the director has been accused of, but never charged with, sexual abuse of his adopted daughter. She believes he’s morally unworthy of the attention.

Lyon created an online petition to pressure the campus on the matter. So far, it’s drawn about 15,000 signatures and generated a considerable amount of publicity and news coverage.

“When you have a class that has Woody Allen in the title you’re saying something to (sexual abuse) survivors everywhere — that once again these abusers are being put up on pedestals they don’t deserve,” Lyon said.

The university — which trumpets the value of free speech on its website — has decided to say almost nothing about the issue.

Steven Adler, the prize-winning theater professor who teaches the Woody Allen course, did not respond to requests for an interview. Nor did Cristina Della Coletta, dean of the Division of Arts and Humanities. Chancellor Pradeep Khosla has deferred comment until after the Academic Senate reviews the course.

But faculty elsewhere aren’t hesitating to talk about the subject, which at its core involves academic freedom.

If you ban the Woody Allen course “does it also mean you should not teach a course about the writings of Adolf Hitler?” asked Erwin Chemerinsky, the constitutional law expert who serves as dean of the law school at UC Berkeley.

“Lots of horrific people get studied in college. It would be frightening if campuses were making decisions based on the personalities and wrong-doings of people rather than the academic merit of the course. I hope (UC San Diego) bases things on merit.” ...

Lyon doesn’t believe that silencing a university professor — Steven Adler — violates the First Amendment, which she describes as a law “written by a bunch of white men …It was written in the 1700s — late 1700s. I mean, those men were experiencing things that are completely different now. (It’s) outdated.”

When asked how the law is outdated, Lyon said, “Well, it protected Donald Trump when he said --- a breadth of offensive things.”...

Our annual Valentine

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

And speaking of money

The state controller reports that state revenues for the current fiscal year through January are up about $5 billion relative to what was estimated when the budget was enacted last June.

Some of the added revenue may be due to a response to the recent federal tax law that limited the amount that could be deducted for state and local taxes to $10,000. Tax advisers suggested to clients affected by the cap that they pre-pay property tax and estimated state income tax before Dec. 31. While property taxes are local and would not show up in the controller's report, state personal income taxes are an important source of state revenue.

For the controller's report, see:
https://www.sco.ca.gov/Files-ARD/CASH/January%202018%20Statement%20of%20General%20Fund%20Cash%20Receipts%20and%20Disbursements.pdf

It may come down to money

Construction of a Thirty-Meter Telescope in Hawaii - in which UC has an interest - has been stymied by objections from the Native Hawaiian community.

Now it appears money may be a key to resolving the issue:

"...One of the goals of (a new proposal and bill) is to force the telescopes to pay more.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which would get a share of that added revenue, testified in favor of the bill.
"We know that the measure specifically tries to balance what we think is a lopsided emphasis on telescope development at the expense of everything else including the protections of traditional and customary rights,” said Jocelyn Doane, OHA senior policy advocate..."

Monday, February 12, 2018

Unchanged

From the Bruin: UCLA has not seen more white supremacist activity on campus since fall 2016, despite a rise in such behavior on other college campuses. A report released by the Anti-Defamation League on Jan. 29 reported an increase in white supremacist recruitment on college campuses following the inauguration of President Donald Trump. There were 147 reports nationwide of white supremacist activity, including fliers, stickers and banners, in fall 2017, almost three times as much as in fall 2016. The ADL is a civil rights agency that fights anti-Semitism and discrimination.

The report also found that in most cases, offensive posters on college campuses were placed there by outside groups. In November 2016, a group calling itself the “UCLA White Students Group” put up posters on campus with white supremacist views and warnings that were later removed by the university. 

California had the second-highest number of incidents, at 43. ADL spokesperson Ariella Schusterman said California and Texas are home to the largest and most active membership for Identity Evropa and Patriot Front, groups that frequently employ flyers and posters on college campuses to recruit members. She added groups often use propaganda that avoid recognizable white supremacist imagery to try to attract students.

“White supremacists see campuses as a fertile recruiting ground – students on campus are prepared to soak up as much information and life experience as possible,” Schusterman said.

Barry O’Neill, a political science professor, said political groups often communicate racist messages to their followers that outsiders cannot tell are racist.

“Some politicians have the ability to communicate a racist message, without being explicit about it,” he said.

UCLA officials said the campus has not seen a rise in white supremacist activity over the past year.

UCPD Lt. Kevin Kilgore said UCPD recorded three to four hate incidents in both 2016 and 2017. He added hate speech is classified as a hate incident, and would only be considered a hate crime if it occurs with another crime such as theft or vandalism...

Full story at http://dailybruin.com/2018/02/11/white-supremacist-activity-has-not-risen-at-ucla-but-still-poses-threat/

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Funding of CA Politics

California has been a "blue" state for some time and is likely to remain so. However, a case is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court that would limit the ability of public sector unions to collect service fees (in lieu of dues) from non-members they represent. Generally in California, public sector unions - such as those of teachers - have been important in funding Democratic candidates, and particular candidates when Democrats compete for a nomination.

It was expected that an earlier case that the Court heard would result in elimination of such funding but the death of Justice Scalia prevented it. A new case is now before the Court with the expectation being that the Court will void such service fee requirements. However, as the item below indicates, a friend-of-the-court brief from libertarian-leaning Prof. Eugene Volokh and a co-author, makes a case for the pro-union side in this matter:

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THE EMINENT LIBERTARIANS WHO MIGHT SAVE PUBLIC SECTOR UNIONS

Rachel M. Cohen, February 2 2018, The Intercept

THE SUPREME COURT will hear arguments this month in a case challenging the constitutionality of so-called agency fees, payments that workers represented by a union must pay if they do not wish to be dues-paying members. Conservatives have been crusading against these fees for years on First Amendment grounds, and with Justice Neil Gorsuch on the bench, the labor movement’s odds seem grim.

But last month, unions got a surprising lifeline from an unlikely friend: Two prominent conservative legal scholars filed an amicus brief in Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31 — the case before the court — urging the justices to uphold a 1977 decision that ruled the agency fees constitutional.

The case has gotten relatively little attention, but it is difficult to overstate its political importance. A decision striking down agency fees, also known as fair-share fees, could lead to massive free-riding and consequently, decimate public sector union coffers. Unions subsidize much of  the Democratic Party’s on-the-ground operations, which is another reason conservatives want to see their funds depleted. Indeed, the rightward shift in states like Wisconsin has coincided with the snuffing out of public unions — though it is no coincidence. Studies have shown that crushing unions can move the political needle by as much as 3 to 4 points, which in battleground states is the difference between winning and losing.

The case is in many ways a replay of 2016’s Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, in which 10 public school teachers challenged the constitutionality of their mandatory agency fees. The teachers, funded by conservative groups, claimed their fees subsidized political speech in violation of their rights. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, but it seemed likely the Supreme Court would side with the challengers. Yet after Justice Antonin Scalia unexpectedly died in his sleep in February 2016, the justices issued a split 4-4 decision, upholding the appellate court ruling.

Gorsuch’s addition to the bench has given unions much to be anxious about. In 2017, Gorsuch sided every time with Clarence Thomas, the court’s most conservative justice, and though there’s still a relatively small sample size of cases to judge Gorsuch’s record, no one doubts that he leans right. 

The surprising brief was filed by Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA who specializes in First Amendment issues, and William Baude, a constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago. Neither one is especially fond of unions. Still, they argue that mandatory fair-share fees pose no First Amendment issue.

“Compelled subsidies of others’ speech happen all the time, and are not generally viewed as burdening any First Amendment interest,” they write. “Just as non-union members may find many reasons to disagree with a public union’s speech, there are countless grounds to object to other speech supported by government funds. Many people undoubtedly disagree with a great deal of public and private speech funded by taxes or other compulsory payments. There is, however, no First Amendment interest in avoiding those subsidies.”

In other words, the government regularly compels taxes and uses that money to pay for things that taxpayers may politically disagree with, and these union fees should be treated no differently. Volokh and Baude cite public school curriculum and crisis pregnancy centers as two common examples. They argue it’s well within the government’s authority to compel their employees to pay fees for a governmental interest – in this case, maintaining labor peace – even if that money may subsidize things that some personally object to...

Charlotte Garden, a liberal constitutional law professor who also filed a Janus amicus brief on behalf of labor law scholars, told The Intercept she thinks there is a greater likelihood that conservative justices and their clerks will take Baude and Volokh’s argument seriously, precisely because the two don’t necessarily favor unions as a policy matter. In other words, they could be seen as “honest brokers.” Additionally, Garden said, because Volokh and Baude “are household names and academics who write from a more conservative/libertarian perspective,” there’s a greater chance that the justices and their clerks will “pull their brief from the (large) pile of amicus briefs for a closer read.”...

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

UCLA History: 1930 View

A view of the campus in 1930 showing the reservoir

Friday, February 9, 2018

Speech at Irvine - Part 2

The University of California’s National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement today announced its inaugural class of 10 fellows, charged with helping educational institutions and communities better understand, guarantee and facilitate free speech.
The fellows, who include scholars, students and analysts from across the country, will spend a year researching timely, vital First Amendment issues. Their work will include developing tools, analyzing data and presenting lessons from history to be highlighted at a national conference later this year. Each will reside for a week at one of the 10 UC campuses to engage with students, faculty, administrators and community members...
The first fellows, listed below with their projects, were selected by the advisory board from 75 applicants nationwide.
  • Robert Cohen, professor of history and social studies at New York University, will compare free speech crises at UC Berkeley in 2017 and the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1967, then develop related curriculum materials for middle and high school teachers and incoming college students.
  • Carlos Cortes, professor emeritus of history at UC Riverside, will explore the history of diversity initiatives on college campuses and how those initiatives have affected students’ and administrators’ evolving views on free speech issues.
  • Ellis Cose, best-selling author and speaker, will perform a deep analysis of the challenges of protecting free expression in the context of polarized politics, accusations of fake news and a rise in white nationalism, supplementing his book project on the history of the American Civil Liberties Union.
  • Justin McClinton, Ph.D. candidate in education policy and leadership studies at UC Santa Barbara, will develop a toolkit that helps university administrators prepare incoming students for challenging ideas and civil engagement.
  • Candace McCoy, director of policy analysis in the Office of the Inspector General for the New York Police Department and professor of criminal justice at the Graduate Center,  City University of New York, will study recent protests and changing police practices when groups decide that rioting or threats of violence are necessary to bring attention to their issues.
  • Elizabeth Meyer, associate professor of educational foundations, policy & practice at the University of Colorado Boulder, will aim to demystify First Amendment topics such as free speech, harassment and nondiscrimination in K-12 and university settings, including surveying educators on challenging acts of expression in their classrooms.
  • William Morrow, former UC Berkeley student body president, will create a playbook for student leaders on how to handle the unique politics, legal restrictions, community relations and complex media communications involved with expressing opposition to controversial speakers.
  • Gamelyn Oduardo-Sierra, legal counsel to the chancellor at the University of Puerto Rico, will focus on developing online resources, podcasts and educational guides about the rights of assembly, public forums and civic participation as avenues of social conciliation.
  • Carlin Romano, professor of philosophy and humanities at Ursinus College and the University of Pennsylvania, as well as critic at large for The Chronicle of Higher Education, will work with the country’s top intellectuals and writers to set up debates on controversial topics at up to eight college campuses. He will write a series of articles connected to these debates, examining when and why conventional viewpoints tip into being unacceptable.
  • Keith Whittington, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics at Princeton University, will develop model guidelines for campus free speech, moving from the defense of principles to concrete statements and regulations that can be adapted and used by college administrators.
Full news release at:

Piece of the pie

Some blog readers may recall the scandal that peripherally involved UC and the California Public Utilities Commission.* Its echoes are continuing:
  • The University of California is requesting to be recognized as a party to the settlement of costs for the failed San Onofre nuclear plant north of Oceanside.
  • In a previous version of the settlement, UC campuses had a shot at grant funding for greenhouse gas research. The new proposal instead favors California State University researchers.
  • A decision from the California Public Utilities Commission is expected later this year.
One loser in the agreement last week to settle a dispute over costs related to the San Onofre nuclear plant closure was the University of California, which stood to collect $25 million in research funding until it was specifically precluded from participating in the latest deal...
In a five-page motion submitted to the commission this week, the University of California argues that it should not be penalized for what turned out to be a secret negotiation between the former utilities commission president and an executive from majority plant owner Southern California Edison...
The deal... would cut in half the $25 million that utilities were directed to pay in 2014 for research on climate change.
The latest agreement between utility lawyers and consumer advocates specifically excludes the University of California from collecting any of the research funding, which was trimmed to $12.5 million.
UC said in its filing that it is California’s “primary state-supported academic agency for research” and should not be precluded from competing for the money...

Full story at:
===

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Speech at Irvine

UC Irvine will oversee the University of California’s new center to promote free speech and civic engagement, the campus announced Thursday. UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman, a constitutional law scholar, also announced the center’s inaugural class of 10 fellows. The scholars, students and analysts from across the country will explore such issues as the intersection of diversity and free speech, protests over police practices and challenges to safeguard the 1st Amendment amid today’s polarized politics. Several fellows also plan to develop curricula and toolkits to help students better understand free speech issues.

“The first class of fellows exemplifies our goal of bringing together the country’s great minds to study the complicated issues of free speech, activism and civic engagement,” said Gillman, co-chair of the center’s advisory board.

Gillman told The Times in a recent interview that today’s students are not fragile “snowflakes” but need to better understand the importance of 1st Amendment freedoms. He recently co-wrote a book, “Free Speech on Campus,” with Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Berkeley law school...  

Listen to the Regents Health & Executive Comp Committees, Feb. 6, 2018

This past Tuesday, the Regents Health Services Committee met at various locations including UCLA. Its meeting was followed by that of a special working group on executive pay.

We noted in an earlier post that there would be public comments at the health committee in support of bicycle use.* You can hear those comments at the beginning. Later there was general discussion of the economics of providing health care.

There was then discussion of UCLA' proposal to partner with a private company in China that runs hospitals. That firm wants UCLA to play what sounds like a consulting role and, as part of the deal, to use the UCLA "brand." What could possibly go wrong? There were some concerns expressed by Regents, but no one seems to want to say that this might not be a great idea.

You can hear the two sessions at the links below:


Health Services:
https://archive.org/details/1Health2618/1-health2-6-18.wma

Executive Compensation:
https://archive.org/details/1Health2618/2-execComp2-6-16.wma
===
*https://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2018/02/regents-health-services-committee-and.html

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

UC-Berkeley architecture students demand removal of professor

"A group of UC Berkeley architecture students say their academic careers are in limbo because the university has allowed a prominent professor to serve on doctoral committees and advise them despite a 2016 campus finding that he sexually harassed a student..."

The quote above, from an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, goes on to describe a situation in which a faculty member has been suspended from teaching but still performs certain duties while awaiting a final decision from the campus Privilege and Tenure Committee. You can find it at the link below:
http://www.sfgate.com/education/article/UC-Berkeley-architecture-students-demand-removal-12556687.php

It raises important issues about tenure protections and what could become of them if they are overridden in this or other cases.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

UC Global Warming Coalition

UC partners with leading research universities to form international coalition for accelerating local climate action

UC Office of the President, Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The University of California today (Feb. 6) unveiled the University Climate Change Coalition, or UC3, a bold new coalition of 13 leading North American research universities that will prototype a collaborative model designed to help local communities achieve their climate goals and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future.

UC President Janet Napolitano will discuss the coalition today at 11:30 a.m. PDT at the Second Nature Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit in Tempe, Arizona. She will be joined by Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow, University of Colorado Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano, Ohio State University President Michael V. Drake and Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley. The keynote conversation will be livestreamed here.

In launching UC3, an initial cohort of distinguished universities from the United States, Canada and Mexico has committed to mobilize their resources and expertise to accelerate local and regional climate action in partnership with businesses, cities and states.

Cross-sector forums: Every UC3 institution will convene a climate change forum in 2018 to bring together community and business leaders, elected officials and other local stakeholders. Meetings will be tailored to meet local and regional objectives shared across sectors and will aim to speed the implementation of research-driven climate policies and solutions. 

Coalition climate mitigation and adaptation report: A coalition-wide report, to be released in late 2018, will synthesize the best practices, policies and recommendations from all UC3 forums into a framework for continued progress on climate change goals across the nation and the world.

All UC3 members have already pledged to reduce their institutional carbon footprints, with commitments ranging from making more climate-friendly investments to becoming operationally carbon neutral. 

“The University of California system is thrilled to partner with this group of preeminent research universities on an issue that has long been a major strategic priority for all of our institutions,” said Napolitano. “No one is better positioned than we are to scale up research-based climate solutions.”

Arizona State University
California Institute of Technology
Tecnológico de Monterrey
La Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
The Ohio State University
The State University of New York
The University of British Columbia
The University of California
University of Colorado, Boulder
University of Maryland, College Park
The University of New Mexico
The University of Toronto
The University of Washington

UC3 will operate in close partnership with Second Nature’s Climate Leadership Network, a group of hundreds of colleges and universities that have committed to taking action on climate. 

Harnessing the resources and convening power of member institutions, the coalition will work to inform and galvanize local, regional and national action on climate change. Coalition members will bring to these efforts a critical body of expertise in areas including advanced climate modeling, energy storage systems, next generation solar cells and devices, energy-efficiency technologies, biofuels, smart grids, environmental regulatory policies, and more.

“Research universities play an important role in creating new knowledge, convening thought leadership, and serving as long-term community members. By applying these strengths to locally relevant climate challenges, we see transformative potential for accelerating climate solutions in these locations in a way that couldn’t happen if the institutions and sectors continued to act on their own,” said Timothy Carter, president of Second Nature.

Jeff Moe, Global Director of Energy Policy and Product Advocacy at the Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability at Ingersoll Rand, also applauded the effort’s emphasis on cross-sector partnerships. Ingersoll Rand works with research universities to develop technologies that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

“UC Davis analyzed how ice energy and chilled water energy storage technologies can alleviate the strain on the electrical grid during the hottest day in a decade without compromising comfort in commercial buildings,” Moe said. “This analysis demonstrates how universities and companies can work together to identify a path forward to accelerate grid decarbonization and global reduction of GHG emissions.”

In 2016, the U.S.-based members of the UC3 coalition together performed about one-quarter of the environmental science research conducted by all U.S. institutions, according to data collected by the National Science Foundation. From 2012 to 2017, researchers at UC3 member institutions were responsible for 48,518 publications on climate science-related topics, including environmental science, agricultural and biological sciences, energy, engineering, earth and planetary sciences, and more.

The University of California is working to become carbon neutral in its operations by 2025, in line with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and the Under2 MOU for subnational climate leaders. Despite increased student enrollment, UC has reduced its systemwide emissions by 15 percent since 2009 through energy efficiency gains and the adoption of solar and other renewable energy generation. In 2016, the system made the largest solar purchase ever by a U.S. university.

“The UC3 coalition believes that addressing climate change is an area where some of the world’s greatest research institutions can, and must, lead,” said Napolitano.

Source:
https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/press-room/university-california-other-leading-research-universities-form-international-coalition

$4 million

UC Berkeley spent almost $4 million on security for a month of free-speech events last year when the campus became a flashpoint for the country's political divisions.
The university revealed in documents that it spent $3.9 million to bring in outside police forces, pay their room, board and overtime, have ambulances on standby, rent barricades and pay other security costs for three events scheduled from Aug. 27 to Sept. 27...

Just saying...

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio wrote to four Florida colleges and universities Monday asking them to close their Confucius Institutes, centers of Chinese language and cultural education that are housed in U.S. colleges or schools and funded and staffed by a Chinese government entity. One of those colleges -- the University of West Florida -- said in a statement it had already decided to close its Confucius Institute.

In his letter, Rubio cited “mounting concern about the Chinese government’s increasingly aggressive attempts to use ‘Confucius Institutes’ and other means to influence foreign academic institutions and critical analysis of China’s past history and present policies.”

“Given China’s aggressive campaign to ‘infiltrate’ American classrooms, stifle free inquiry, and subvert free expression both at home and abroad, I respectfully urge you to consider terminating your Confucius Institute agreement,” Rubio, a Republican from Florida, wrote in letters to Miami Dade College and the Universities of North Florida, South Florida and West Florida, as well as to Cypress Bay High School.

In a statement, the University of West Florida said it decided last fall to terminate its Confucius Institute agreement and that its leadership spoke last week with representatives from their Chinese partner university to inform them that UWF would not renew the contract when it expires in May.

“The decision was a result of a review of the program because the contract was expiring,” a UWF spokeswoman, Megan Gonzalez, said. “We concluded that we were not getting adequate return in terms of student interest, among other things, and decided to discontinue.”

The three other Florida colleges that Rubio said he sent the letter to either did not respond to messages or declined to comment on the substance of the senator’s letter Monday afternoon. Adam Freeman, a spokesman for the University of South Florida, confirmed receipt of the letter and said, “We will respond to Senator Rubio in the near future.”

About 100 U.S. colleges have opened Confucius Institutes despite the concerns about academic freedom that have accompanied their establishment. A couple of institutes have closed, including those at Pennsylvania State University and the University of Chicago. More than 100 Chicago faculty members signed a petition calling for the closure of Chicago’s Confucius Institute over concerns about the university ceding control of faculty hiring and curricular matters to a Chinese government entity.

In 2014, the American Association of University Professors called on American universities to end their involvement with Confucius Institutes unless they can renegotiate their agreements to ensure that “the university has unilateral control … over all academic matters, including recruitment of teachers, determination of curriculum, and choice of texts” and that “the university affords Confucius Institute teachers the same academic freedom rights … that it affords all other faculty in the university.” The AAUP also called on colleges to make their Confucius Institute agreements public...

Source: https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2018/02/06/more-scrutiny-confucius-institutes-one-close

Monday, February 5, 2018

Deep Thoughts

Scott
Here's a footnote to recent history:

The phrase "deep state" is attributed - in its current usage - to a retired UC-Berkeley faculty member: Peter Dale Scott. He has a website at:
http://www.peterdalescott.net/

You can find a reference giving him credit for the phrase at:
http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/nation-world/national/article198336254.html

In any event, perhaps the phrase is intended as a wake-up call:


Sunday, February 4, 2018

UCLA History: From on high

Westwood in 1929. Arrow points to new UCLA campus.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Regents Health Services Committee (and Bicycles): February 6

The Regents Health Services Committee will be meeting at the UCLA Grand Hotel this coming Tuesday, Feb. 6, in one of its off-cycle meetings, i.e., apart from the full board meetings that next occur in March.

However, in this case, I am told the Committee will not be entirely off-cycle in that a group called the UCLA Bicycle Academy that blogs at http://bicycleacademy.blogspot.com/ will be taking advantage of the meeting to ask the Committee to promote use of bicycles. (The punster in yours truly is waiting to see who will be the SPOKESperson.) Chancellor Block was induced at some point in the past to wear a bicycle pin distributed by the group.

In any event, we will continue our practice of archiving the audio of the meeting indefinitely, since the Regents preserve their recordings only one year.

In the meantime, the Committee's agenda is at:
http://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/regmeet/feb18/hs.pdf

Friday, February 2, 2018

Budget on a Slow Day

We seem to be in a slow news day regarding UC. So here is yours truly on the recent state budget proposal released by the governor:

Part 1:


Parts 1 and 2: Go to:
https://archive.org/details/budget1-25-18pt1
Select the part you want.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

$3.4 million

The University of California has paid out about $3.4 million in sexual harassment claim settlements in the past three years, according to a recent report by the Sacramento Bee.
Agencies and public universities in California have paid more than $25 million altogether over three fiscal years, costing taxpayers in California about $21.3 million, according to the report. The UC system paid the second-highest amount among state agencies...
Claire Doan, a spokesperson for the UC Office of the President, stated that this insurance system, called Fiat Lux Risk and Insurance Company, or Fiat Lux, requires UC campuses to pay an insurance premium in order to be covered. Fiat Lux was formed by the UC Board of Regents to “reduce UC’s cost of traditional insurance, while giving it greater control over the various risks for which it is responsible,” according to the UC “Working Smarter” website.
Doan said Fiat Lux reflects the complexity of the UC system, as it represents not only campuses but medical centers and national laboratories as well. She added that the UC system, a “$31.5 billion enterprise,” is the state’s third-largest employer...
This information comes in relation to a UC Berkeley sexual harassment suit filed by Tyann Sorrell in 2016 against former UC Berkeley School of Law dean Sujit Choudhry. The case ended in a landmark $1.7 million payout...