Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Alternatives not considered

Jerry Kang, Vice Chancellor and head of the UCLA Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion office, issued a statement in July concerning a leaked report from last summer. The opening paragraph:

An investigation report completed by UCLA’s Discrimination Prevention Office has leaked to the Daily Bruin and was today produced under a public records request. It’s about a hot button issue: divestment from Israel. For multiple reasons, I’m wary about commenting on a report that we did not publicly release. But misunderstandings are spreading. And if this past year as Vice Chancellor has taught me anything, it is to embrace transparency and to meet challenges head-on...

The full statement is at

A recent email from VC Kang circulated to the UCLA community is in a similar vein and generally calls for everyone to be considerate.

One possibility not considered in the report and email is that UCLA needs to establish a greater separation between student government affairs and official university policy. The more that what goes on in student government is seen as a responsibility of the university, the more the university becomes entangled in matters it has little control over currently. Separation could involve a move away from mandatory student fees. There could be a fee opt-out option, for example. If separation is not possible, there could alternatively be some version of the old "fairness doctrine" for student-fee supported political programs, which for decades applied to radio and TV broadcasters. You can go for separation or you can go for more control. But the current situation - little control but responsibility for outcomes - is bound to create problems. General calls to be considerate are OK but don't address the issue.

In short, there are a variety of issues and alternatives to be considered. But at the moment, no one is even considering them. It's time to start such a consideration.

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