Sunday, March 31, 2019

Jerry Brown Haunting SF Chronicle Editorial Board?

Jerry Brown famously said it on vetoing a bill by State Senator Leland Yee that would have fined parents for letting their kids ski without helmets.* Of course, Yee later had a very big problem with the law that landed him in prison. But that's another story. Google "Yee" and "Shrimp Boy" if you don't know the story.

In any case, the San Francisco Chronicle seems to have picked up Brown's theme in a recent editorial about the admissions scandal:

Editorial: The college admissions cheating scandal is horrible, but Sacramento doesn’t need to get involved

San Francisco Chronicle, 3-30-19

William “Rick” Singer leaves federal court in Boston on March 12 after being charged with racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice in an alleged college admissions scam. As the scam net widens, the California Legislature is weighing new bills to combat admissions fraud.

The still-unfolding college admissions scandal, which exposed how a nonprofit educational foundation helped rich celebrities and powerful financiers bribe college coaches and exam proctors to secure places for their progeny at the some of the country’s most exclusive colleges and universities, is a shocking morality play about wealth, privilege and entitlement in America.

When the scheme was uncovered, it triggered a strong response. Alleged mastermind Rick Singer has pleaded guilty to serious federal charges, including racketeering conspiracy and money laundering. He faces up to 65 years in prison.

Singer’s cooperating with authorities, which means it’s far less likely that many of the parents who were charged in the scam — including celebrity actors Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, along with wealthy Bay Area residents including vineyard owner Austine Huneeus and former private equity executive William McGlashan — will be able to get off scot-free.

The U.S. Department of Education has notified the eight universities named in the scandal — Stanford, Yale, Wake Forest, the University of San Diego, Georgetown, the University of Southern California, the University of Texas at Austin and UCLA — that it’s opened an investigation into their admissions practices for possible violations of federal financial aid laws.

So why does Sacramento feel the need to weigh in?

On Thursday, state lawmakers announced a new package of six bills in response to the disgusting admissions spectacle. While at least one of the bills in the package is well worth considering, the overall result is a fine example of Sacramento overreach.

The six proposals include AB697, which would bar universities that offer legacy admissions from receiving Cal Grants. AB1383 would require more approvals for candidates, often athletes, who are admitted “by exception.” An as-yet-untitled nonbinding resolution would recommend that the University of California and California State University systems phase out the SAT and ACT exams in admissions.

There’s also AB1342, which would require private admissions coaches to pay an annual registration fee with the state. AB136 would prevent those charged in the scandal from taking a tax deduction for their phony donations. The sixth proposal would direct the state auditor to look for potential fraud within California’s public university systems.

It’s hard to argue with AB136. There’s just no circumstance under which those accused of this crime should be allowed to use the alleged fraud amounts as a tax write-off.

Note from yours truly. It's already illegal to deduct a sham charitable donation that is used to benefit yourself.

But the other bills are misguided meddling.

California’s public universities can make their own decisions about admission requirements. How would a new state database have prevented this mess? As currently written, AB697 could backfire badly on lower-income students, who are the primary recipients of the Cal Grant program. Universities aren’t going to stop enrolling wealthy legacy students, so let’s not encourage them to reject low-income ones.

The lesson from the admissions scandal is that people with too much money and power will abuse their privileges unless checked.

But in this case, they were checked. The system is working.

There’s no need to pass legislation when accountability will provide the right outcome. Let this sordid tale work its way through the courts, Sacramento — not every new crime deserves a new law.


Turns out you don't have to go to Kansas City to see the UC prez... our earlier posting suggested:
You can see her at her book tour in LA, albeit at USC.

Still, if you love LA, April 14 is the date:

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Strike News (Coming April 10)

UC union plans to have 24,000 workers strike to protest ‘hostile work environment’

Cathie Anderson, 3-29-19, Sacramento Bee

The University of California’s largest labor union, AFSCME 3299, said Friday it plans a one-day strike April 10 to protest unfair labor practices, saying the university system has used communications, retaliatory actions and intimidation tactics to instill fear in employees.

“Through its actions, the University of California has created a hostile work environment that undermines workers’ ability to exercise their rights and voice concerns in the workplace,” said AFSCME Local 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger, in a news release. “We will not allow UC to silence the voices of its most vulnerable workers – who’re overwhelmingly people of color – and we will take all necessary actions to hold UC accountable for any illegal behavior.”

UC spokesperson Claire Doan issued a statement that, in part, read: “AFSCME leaders’ alleged reasons for demonstrating are stacking up as quickly as the number of strikes they’re spearheading. This will be the fourth systemwide strike in less than a year – it’s abundantly clear union leaders have little regard for the negative impact on the patients, students, and communities that UC serves.”

AFSCME 3299 filed a complaint Monday with the state of California’s labor agency, the Public Employment Labor Relations Board. In the filing, the union made a number of allegations, including that:

▪ Various UC representatives have attempted to instill fear in union members with physical confrontation. On Oct. 25, 2018, picketers reported to UC Davis police that a manager twice charged his vehicle at them and then exited the vehicle to yell at them and shove some strikers. In a February 2018 demonstration at UC Berkeley, picketers faced down an angry driver attempting to accelerate through the crowd. UC police grabbed one of the picketers and threw him to the ground to arrest him. Charges were dropped against the picketer but he has not returned to a picket line since then.

▪ Supervisors have rewarded unionized workers who cross the picket line with free meals and even a pool party.

▪ Management attempted to force out a UC Merced custodian who serves on the union’s bargaining committee by reprimanding her union activity and dealing out unfavorable work assignments. The worker took an unpaid leave, citing work-related stress.

▪ In a private meeting, a UC San Diego supervisor encouraged workers to “give themselves a raise” by opting out of AFSCME membership.

▪ Human resource executives and other UC leaders have sent out communications to employees telling them union strikes are undermining patient safety at UC’s academic medical centers. During each labor action, AFSCME noted, it has voluntarily left more workers on duty than PERB required, and it has set up a contingency plan to allow the UC to call in additional workers in the event of an emergency.

...The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees 3299 has 24,000 members, many of them among UC’s lowest-paid staff. They include service workers such as custodians, gardeners, food service workers and facilities maintenance staff, in addition to patient-care workers such as medical transcribers, phlebotomists, admitting clerks and respiratory therapists.

The union and UC have been negotiating for two years, and since contracts expired, AFSCME has authorized walkouts May 7-9, 2018; Oct. 23-25, 2018; March 20; and now April 10. The labor actions have targeted all 10 UC campuses and its five academic medical centers.

Full story at

Going to Kansas City? You missed this event

Janet Napolitano will be In Conversation about her New Hardcover ~ How Safe Are We?: Homeland Security Since 9/11

EVENT OVERVIEW:  Janet Napolitano, Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, and Former Arizona Governor, will be In Conversation with Former Missouri Governor Jay Nixon about Janet's New Hardcover How Safe Are We?: Homeland Security Since 9/11.  This Event is Co-Presented by Rainy Day Books & Truman Library Institute.

ABOUT JANET NAPOLITANO:  Janet Napolitano is a distinguished public servant with a record of leading large, complex organizations at the federal and state levels.  She served as secretary of Homeland Security from 2009 to 2013.  Before that, she was the governor of Arizona, previously serving as attorney general of Arizona and before that as U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona.  She was the first woman to chair the National Governors Association, and was named one of the nation's top five governors by TIME Magazine.  Since 2013, she has served as the president of the University of California.

ABOUT THE NEW BOOK:  Created in the wake of the greatest tragedy to occur on U.S. soil, the Department of Homeland Security was handed a sweeping mandate: make America safer.  It would encompass Intelligence and Law Enforcement Agencies, oversee natural disasters, commercial aviation, Border Security and ICE, cybersecurity, and terrorism, among others.  From 2009 to 2013, Janet Napolitano ran DHS and oversaw 22 Federal Agencies with 230,000 employees.

In How Safe Are We?, Napolitano pulls no punches, reckoning with the critics who call it Frankenstein’s Monster of government run amok, and taking a hard look at the challenges we’ll be facing in the future.  But ultimately, she argues that the huge, multifaceted department is vital to our nation’s security.  An agency that’s part terrorism prevention, part intelligence agency, part law enforcement, public safety, disaster recovery make for an odd combination the protocol-driven, tradition-bound Washington D.C. culture.  But, she says, it has made us more safe, secure, and resilient.

Napolitano not only answers the titular question, but grapples with how these security efforts have changed our country and society.  Where are the failures that leave us vulnerable and what has our 1 trillion dollar investment yielded over the last 15 Years?  And why haven’t we had another massive terrorist attack in the U.S. since September 11th, 2001?  In our current political climate, where Donald Trump has politicized nearly every aspect of the department, Napolitano’s clarifying, bold vision is needed now more than ever.

DATE & TIME:  Thursday, March 28, 2019, at 7:00 PM

LOCATION:  A Rainy Day Books Author Event at Unity Temple on The Plaza, Sanctuary, 707 W 47th Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64112

EVENT FORMAT:  Janet Napolitano will be In Conversation with Former Missouri Governor Jay Nixon about Janet's New Hardcover How Safe Are We?: Homeland Security Since 9/11.  A Booksigning will follow the Presentation.

ADMISSION PACKAGE (1 or 2 People):  $26.00 plus Kansas Sales Tax includes 1 Hardcover of How Safe Are We?: Homeland Security Since 9/11, 1 Stamped Autographing Admission Ticket, and 1 Guest Admission Ticket (if needed).  It's your choice, for the same price

Admission Packages will be available for purchase at our Sales and Service Table at Unity Temple on The Plaza tonight beginning at 6:15 PM.

DISCLAIMER:  All Author Event sales are final and non-refundable.  Kansas Sales Tax is charged on all Orders, regardless of destination. Additional Signed Books are available for purchase at our Author Event.
If you're going to Kansas City, you're too late. It was last Thursday:

Friday, March 29, 2019

Admissions Bills

Responding to college admissions scandal, California lawmakers propose sweeping reforms

Patrick McGreevey | 3-28-19 | LA Times

Outraged by widespread allegations of cheating in the college admissions process, California lawmakers on Thursday proposed a sweeping package of bills aimed at closing loopholes that officials said gave the children of wealthy parents a side door into elite universities.

The six measures would bar special admissions without approval of three college administrators, regulate private admission consultants, audit the University of California admissions process, and deny state tax write-offs for donations made by parents as part of the cheating scheme.

Another bill, by Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), would prohibit preferential admissions to applicants related to the institution’s donors or alumni. Universities that did not comply would be ineligible to participate in the Cal Grant program, so students who receive Cal Grants would have to use them at another institution...

Full story at

UCLA Closed Today: César Chávez Day

The odd couple: César Chávez and Shirley Temple Black at the Commonwealth Club in 1984

The odd story behind the odd-couple photo:

‘Shirley Temple Black got Cesar Chavez to deliver one of his most memorable speeches’

Feb 11, 2014, Daily Kos

Marc Grossman, Cesar Chavez’s longtime press secretary, speechwriter and personal aide, recalled Chavez and Shirley Temple Black after learning of Mrs. Black’s passing Monday night. Grossman is presently communications director for the Cesar Chavez Foundation and a spokesman for the United Farm Workers of America.

Shirley Temple Black got Cesar Chavez to deliver one of his most memorable speeches when she served as president of the Commonwealth Club of California in 1984. Mrs. Black invited Cesar to address one of the prestigious group’s regular luncheons in San Francisco. Cesar was hesitant at first because Mrs. Black was a well-known Republican and had served as President Nixon’s ambassador to Ghana.

So he asked me to follow up. I called the Commonwealth Club and received a phone call back from Mrs. Black. She said she was an admirer of Cesar and was enthusiastic about having him address the Commonwealth Club. So he accepted and spoke before a large crowd in the ballroom of a hotel in San Francisco’s Financial District on November 9, 1984. I worked with him on his remarks and accompanied him to the event.

Cesar and Mrs. Black had lunch together on the dais before the speech and got along like old friends. They shared common interests in gardening and vegetarianism. Mrs. Black related how she had been a member of the Screen Actors Guild as a child actor and maintained her membership in the union over the years so as to support other young actors. Much later when she had to undergo breast cancer surgery, Mrs. Black was surprised to discover the costs were covered because of her SAG membership.

What has become known as Cesar’s Commonwealth Club address was one of the few occasions when he was very introspective, placing himself and his movement in an historical context. It has been widely quoted, from speech anthologies to director Diego Luna’s upcoming major motion picture, Cesar Chavez, that releases in 100 markets across North America on March 28.


How hard is it to find a financial document related to him?

He signed this item.
UCLA sued for not releasing records related to speech by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin: The Trump administration official tried to block video of hissing, heckling audience

By Jason Henry | LA Daily News | 3-28-19

A Pennsylvania-based educational rights group is suing UCLA over its failure to release public records related to a campus visit by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education filed its lawsuit Wednesday and has asked for a court order forcing the university to respond to the records request.

Mnuchin gave a lecture and sat for an interview with Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal at UCLA’s Burkle Center for International Relations in February 2018. Audience members repeatedly hissed and heckled the treasury secretary throughout the speaking engagement. Five protesters were arrested.

“I think they’re going to get more tired than I am,” Mnuchin said during the appearance. “Fat chance,” an audience member shouted.

Mnuchin rescinded permission

Days later, Mnuchin “retracted his permission” to release video of his appearance and the university complied, according to the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper later reported that the Department of the Treasury objected to the video’s release because it provided a “platform for the non-student protesters, who sought to disrupt the event, at the expense of the otherwise thoughtful discussion.” The video showed police officers forcibly removing chanting audience members. Mnuchin is often combative in his responses to Ryssdal’s questioning.

As a result of the controversy, FIRE requested copies of the video of Mnuchin speaking, his contract for the engagement and any communications with Mnuchin or his staff regarding UCLA’s decision to withhold the recording. Eventually, UCLA uploaded the video to its website, stating that the Treasury Department had given consent in light of the public records requests.

‘Unilaterally’ delaying response

FIRE alleges UCLA has failed to release any of the other requested documents and repeatedly delayed issuing a response for more than a year. Most recently, UCLA stated it would reply in late April, 424 days after the initial request, according to FIRE.

“UCLA can’t be allowed to defeat public records law by unilaterally putting off its response deadline forever,” said Adam Steinbaugh, director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program, in a statement. “This is a serious abuse of the public trust. UCLA — and public colleges across the country — must recognize that following the law isn’t a choice.”

UCLA spokesman Ricardo Vazquez said the university is aware of the lawsuit and is “reviewing the allegations.”

The university’s initial extension letter stated staff would need to “search for and collect the requested records from field facilities or other establishments” before it could comply. California law requires public agencies to provide a “response” to records requests within 10 days and allows an additional 14-day extension for “unusual circumstances.”

The law, however, does not set a time frame for when records must be produced, but rather states records should be made “promptly available” and vaguely bars agencies from delaying or obstructing the review of records.

Still, FIRE alleges UCLA should have responded within 24 days with a determination of whether records existed, as required by law. The lawsuit also states UCLA violated state law by giving Mnuchin control over release of the video.

FIRE pointed to a records request database maintained by the student-run Daily Bruin as evidence of an alleged pattern and practice of delaying responses. The Daily Bruin’s longest outstanding request is nearly 5 years old.

Journalists file objection

The Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists sent a letter to the UC Board of Regents and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office earlier this month criticizing UCLA for not releasing the records to it and other organizations in the past year.

“Since that time, we have received nothing but auto-generated emails every two months, not signed by any individual, telling us they have to revise the timetable because they ‘have not completed the requisite review,’ ” wrote Joel Bellman, SPJ/LA’s ethics committee chair. “It seems quite obvious to us that UCLA has no intention ever of completing it, and are hoping that we will simply give up and go away.”

The letter asks the Board of Regents to force UCLA to comply with state law.


Thursday, March 28, 2019

Missed this item

Yours truly somehow missed the item reproduced below in early February. An article in this week's LA Business Journal referenced it, however, so here it is:

Media release: 2-4-19


Bold Recommendations Will Bolster Pipeline to Address Workforce Shortages and Help California Tackle Access and Care Challenges

SACRAMENTO – The California Future Health Workforce Commission — co-chaired by University of California President Janet Napolitano and Dignity Health CEO and President Lloyd Dean — announced a bold set of recommendations today to eliminate the projected shortfall of health providers the state is expected to face in the field of primary care by 2030. These recommendations would also nearly eliminate what is projected to be a severe psychiatry shortage and bolster the pipeline of students and health workers who seek to provide care in underserved communities.

The Commission is calling on state, regional and local leaders to advance 10 priority actions the team of 24 experts has outlined that are needed to build and support the robust and diverse health workforce required to meet the growing demands to provide health care for California’s diverse population. These recommendations come in light of findings by the Commission that California will face a shortfall of 4,100 primary care clinicians and will only have two-thirds of the psychiatrists it needs in the next decade.

Health workforce shortages are already hitting rural areas and many communities of color particularly hard: It’s estimated that seven million Californians, the majority of them Latino, African American, and Native American, live in Health Professional Shortage Areas — a federal designation for counties experiencing shortfalls of primary care, dental care, or mental health care providers. Communities of color will also make up the majority of Californians by 2030, but they remain severely underrepresented in the health workforce.

The Commission’s report identifies opportunities to strengthen the supply, distribution, and diversity of workers in primary care, behavioral health, care for older adults, and other emerging areas of need. This includes accelerating training of primary care clinicians and behavioral health providers, expanding college pipeline programs to bring more low-income and underrepresented minority professionals into the health workforce, increasing medical school enrollment and expanding the number of primary care and psychiatric residencies.

“California is leading the nation by expanding access to care and working to make coverage more affordable, but we need to address the shortages of primary care providers and other essential health workers if we want these efforts to succeed long-term,” said Lloyd Dean, a Commission Co-Chair and Dignity Health CEO and President. “The Commission is confident that health care workforce shortages can be solved in the next 10 years, but leaders across California must start planning on how to address the shortfalls now.”

The Commission’s 10 priority actions are expected to:

  • Eliminate the state’s primary care shortage and nearly eliminate the psychiatry shortage by 2030
  • Increase the number of health workers by over 47,000 people
  • Improve diversity in the health professions, producing approximately 30,000 workers from underrepresented communities
  • Train over 14,500 physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, including over 3,000 underrepresented minority providers
  • Increase the supply of health professionals who come from and train in rural and other underserved communities
  • Expand health outreach and prevention role of community health workers, promotores* and peer providers – workers who have some of the most trusted relationships in a community
  • Implementation will require a $3 billion investment over a 10-year period — for perspective, that is less than 1% of what Californians are projected to spend across the health care system in 2019 alone. Support will be needed from the state, local private and public partners, foundations and many others.

“Building pipeline programs with many statewide partners to bring more low-income and underrepresented minority students into health professions has been a long-standing priority for the University of California, and the Commission’s goal to expand these efforts with additional collaboration from many entities will mean California can achieve a workforce that better reflects the great diversity of our state,” said Janet Napolitano, a Commission Co-Chair and the University of California President.

The Commission’s report comes on the heels of a recent Kaiser Family Foundation/California Health Care Foundation poll that found a strong majority (75%) of Californians believe it should be a priority for the Governor and legislature to make sure there are enough health care providers in the state. One in three Californians say their community does not have enough primary care providers to meet the needs of local residents, and more than half of Californians say their community does not have enough mental health providers to meet the needs of local residents.

“In shortage areas, what patients say over and over is that they face long wait times, travel long distances to see specialists or can’t find a doctor in their area who understands their needs. Bottom line: we need more workers to meet this demand,” said Dr. Rishi Manchanda, a Commissioner and President of HealthBegins. “Our Commission’s recommendations really are about ensuring that no matter where a patient lives, he or she can receive quality care and preventive services from a trusted team of health workers in their own community.”

Health care represents 12.6% of the state’s GDP and employment in the health care sector provides jobs for 1.4 million Californians — meaning training, building and supporting the next generation of health care workers represents an economic imperative.

“The Commission recognizes the urgency, scale, and complexity of California’s health care system and workforce needs. We also recognize that by starting to address the shortages of workers now, we can affect how millions of Californians access care and the quality of care they receive, especially in areas such as the Inland Empire, Los Angeles, San Joaquin Valley and many rural areas that have severe shortages,” said Heather Young, a Commissioner, and Founding Dean Emerita with the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis.

About the California Future Health Workforce Commission

The Commission was co-chaired by Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California, which operates the largest health sciences education and training system in the nation and is a major health provider, and Lloyd Dean, president and CEO of Dignity Health, one of the state’s largest health systems and health employers. The 24 commissioners included prominent health, policy, workforce development, and education leaders in the state.


Full report:

Not in a panic

Above and below: March 2019 PPIC poll, p. 9
Yours truly is always a bit skeptical about poll results regarding detailed state budgetary matters, since most folks don't focus on such issues. However, there has been so much drum beating on the issue of unfunded pension liabilities that the results above from the monthly PPIC (Public Policy Institute of California) poll are of interest. About a third of likely voters think pensions/retirement systems are a big problem, a third think they are somewhat of a problem, and a third think they are not a problem or admit to not knowing. (A special salute should be offered to the honest 10% who admit to not knowing.) Voters are roughly split concerning whether money should be allocated to paying down unfunded liabilities. (No respondents were asked if they knew what unfunded liabilities were.) Anyway, these results might be kept in mind by the Regents the next time the UC retirement system is discussed.

The full poll is available at:

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

A little less sanctimonious next time?

Faithful readers of this blog will recall the brouhaha when - during a state audit - folks from UCOP were found to have put pressure on campus officials to avoid complaints about UCOP.

In the end, the UC prez was called on the carpet before the Regents and humbly apologized. The state auditor also appeared before the Regents and reported how shocked, shocked she was that anyone could have acted so improperly. And there were misleading statements from the auditor about hidden reserves and other matters that were less than helpful and provided the legislature and governor with cover to underfund the university.

It appears, however, that the auditor's house needs some cleaning, too. See the editorial below from the Sacramento Bee.

Auditor’s investigation exposed nepotism at DIR. Why did she try to hide it?


After nearly a year of delay, California State Auditor Elaine Howle finally did the right thing by releasing details of her investigation into charges of nepotism at the Department of Industrial Relations. The surprising details in the report make it clear why some people wanted it to remain secret.

The investigation entailed a review of over one million emails and interviews with dozens of witnesses, including 20 who “feared retaliation.” The auditor uncovered mounds of evidence to support nepotism claims against DIR’s former director. She also discovered that the former director worked to undermine the auditor’s investigation – apparently with help “from a high-ranking official in Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration,” according to the auditor’s report.

“Howle wrote that the director seemed intent on identifying whistleblowers,” according to a story by The Sacramento Bee’s Adam Ashton and Wes Venteicher.

In surreal bureaucratic style, the auditor’s report fails to name the department or the director at the center of the report. But “the timeline of events described in the audit coincides with publicly available information describing the retirement last year of former Department of Industrial Relations Director Christine Baker,” according to The Bee.

Among other findings of the auditor’s investigation:

▪ The director “intervened to help her daughter get a job at her department in 2011 even though the daughter did not meet minimum qualifications for the position.”

▪ When the director’s daughter faced disciplinary action at work, “a senior supervisor intervened to protect her” and appeared to threaten her manager’s job, asking: “Are you trying to lose your job?”

▪ In 2014, “the director transferred a manager after her daughter complained about a plan the manager had proposed,” according to The Bee. “The process by which the director instructed her staff to implement the disciplinary action violated state law and many of its requirements for carrying out a valid adverse action,” says the auditor’s report.

▪ In 2015, the nepotism intensified. This time, the daughter got transferred to a new position with help from her mother, the director, and her uncle, the department’s chief information officer.

The audit also uncovered “several other ‘bad faith’ appointments the director made to help favored candidates bypass state civil service protections to land jobs.”

The report details years of misconduct at DIR. Yet the public might never have known about the scandal had it not been for an “error” on the state auditor’s website and a lawsuit filed by a fired DIR employee.

In 2018, former DIR Director Baker “announced her retirement just after the auditor’s office briefly on its website announced a plan to release a report on her department. A spokeswoman for the auditor’s office told the San Francisco Chronicle at the time that it had an error’ on its website that week,” according to The Bee.

The auditor never released the report. The Bee and the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association filed Public Records Act requests seeking to obtain it.

Public pressure on the auditor increased earlier this year when a former DIR employee, Socorro Tongco, sued the state. Tongco, who says she was fired for cooperating with the auditor’s investigation, provided an outline of the controversy swirling at Baker’s DIR. Tongco also alleged that Baker responded to the auditor’s investigation by launching her own investigation into the contents of DIR employee emails.

Baker’s email probe allegedly turned up emails that DIR later used to terminate Tongco’s employment, saying she had a romantic relationship with a colleague that she hid from supervisors, conducted personal business on state time and misled her boss about her requests to work from home on a couple of occasions.

The auditor’s report contains crucial details that taxpayers have a right to know. So, why did she try to bury this report for a year? The public relies on her to provide transparency and accountability. When she uses her power to hide the truth, she erodes public trust in her office.

Hopefully, she’ll remember this the next time one of her investigations uncovers wrongdoing and ineffectiveness in state government.

In the meantime, we urge Gov. Gavin Newsom and California Labor Secretary Julie Su to take immediate – and long overdue – action to fix what Su has called a “systemic breakdown” at DIR.


There are levels to unpack in the item above. The scandal itself is in part reflective of former Governor Brown's tendency to focus on, and be interested in, grand concepts more than the details of day-to-day administration. Clearly, the state government is complicated and large and a governor can't be involved in micromanaging. But there is a balance needed. And, oddly, when it came to UC, Brown deviated and did get into micromanaging such things as online education.

The Bee leaves hanging the question of why the state auditor kept her investigation of the DIR and its findings under wraps.

Athletic Scandal Touches UCLA - Part 13

Janet Napolitano on college admissions scandal

(CNN) Alisyn Camerota

AC: I want to ask you about this college admissions scam as the president of a major college. There are, I think, at least two students who are embroiled in the scam at your school. So, first of all, were you -- you believe the level that this was at, that parents were willing to go and that coaches were apparently in on.

JN: You know, I was so angered when this case was revealed. At the University of California, we're a public university. We don't do legacy admissions, for example. We don't do donor-related admissions. But to have a [UCLA] soccer coach bribed, you know, that is just shocking and angering, and we're going back through and looking at our entire admissions process to see where there were any, you know, any breaks in how we do it and what if anything we need to fix or whether this was kind of an outlier.

AC: What do you think should happen to students who got in, who may not have known that they were embroiled in this?

JN: I think that's going to be on a case by case basis. You know, I think where the facts show that a student knew or should have known that they were getting in under false pretenses, then we ought to revisit their admissions and their status at the university.

Source: via UC Daily News Clips

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Athletic Scandal Touches UCLA - Part 12

From the NY Times:

A tennis coach with a country club membership and a second home on Cape Cod. An assistant teacher at a Houston public high school. A college administrator whose reputation as a stickler for the rules belied what prosecutors say was a penchant for secretly taking bribes to facilitate students’ admission...

All together, a dozen people, including six coaches, pleaded not guilty in federal court in Boston on Monday in the college admissions scandal that has ensnared Hollywood celebrities and forced a reckoning at elite colleges where prosecutors say students were admitted on the basis of falsified test scores and athletic credentials.

All of the defendants are out on bail, of varying amounts. Those who also appeared on Monday were Donna Heinel, the former senior associate athletic director at the University of Southern California; Laura Janke and Ali Khosroshahin, former University of Southern California soccer coaches; William Ferguson, the former women’s volleyball coach at Wake Forest University; Jorge Salcedo, the former head coach of men’s soccer at the University of California at [sic] Los Angeles; and Jovan Vavic, the former U.S.C. water polo coach.

Others included Steven Masera, the accountant and chief financial officer of Mr. Singer’s company and a related nonprofit through which prosecutors say he funneled the bribes; Mikaela Sanford, an employee of Mr. Singer’s who is accused of taking online classes in place of some students so that they could submit the grades she earned as part of their college applications; and Martin Fox, the president of a private tennis academy in Houston, whom prosecutors say Mr. Singer paid for helping to arrange some of the bribes...

Full story at

Athletic Scandal Touches UCLA - Part 11

UCLA, USC and the University of San Diego were among eight universities notified they were under investigation by the Department of Education in connection with the college admissions scandal, it was reported Tuesday.
Investigators would be looking into whether the schools violated laws “governing the Federal student financial aid programs” or other laws, according to a document reviewed by the political news website, Politico.
If violations are found, the schools could be penalized up to having access to Pell Grants and federal student loans cut off.
The schools were each notified Monday they faced an investigation connected to the criminal charges federal prosecutors announced earlier this month...
Full story at:

(Post) Strike News at Davis

From the Sacramento Bee:

Less than a week after some unionized employees of the hospital took to the picket lines over stalled contract negotiations, a majority of roughly 800 medical residents, interns and fellows at UC Davis Medical Center have signed up to join a labor union, the Committee of Interns and Residents, the union announced Monday.
Those employees will soon ask the state’s Public Employment Relations Board to certify the union to bargain on their behalf...
PERB recently certified CIR, a unit of the Service Employees International Union, to represent residents, fellows and interns practicing at all UCLA and UC San Francisco medical facilities...

Monday, March 25, 2019


From the Sacramento Bee:

...In the $1.4 billion budget bump Gov. Gavin Newsom allocated for higher education, $240 million will funnel to UC for ongoing costs, and a one-time $138 million will cover deferred maintenance.
Is that enough? — The representatives of the nearly 300,000 students at UC think not. Which is why they are asking lawmakers to consider an additional $200 million to finance enrollment growth and keep tuition flat. The association is also advocating for $700,000 for ongoing immigration legal services and $20 million in College Readiness Block Grants, which help with UC outreach to underrepresented students.
“This is about our voices as students of color, first generation students, and underrepresented communities who are ready to reclaim higher education,” said Emelia Martinez, UCSA government relations chair and student from UC, Riverside. “On Monday, when we walk into the capital, we are ready to do what it takes so that the more-than 280,000 UC students benefit from better basic needs resources such as rapid rehousing, more accessible financial aid options such as Summer Cal Grant, and adequate funding that maintains a flat tuition for next year.” 
State Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, is sponsoring legislation that would expand funding for summer grants and finance construction of a new Riverside School of Medicine facility. He’ll join association representatives and Assemblyman Jose Medina, D-Riverside, for a press conference scheduled for noon on the North Steps.
“Our UC students cannot be a part of that California dream if there aren’t mechanisms in place to ensure their success,” Roth said. “We must act now to provide more financial flexibility for our students. If we are asking our college students to be California’s champions – counting on them to become the well-educated workforce of tomorrow – we must be their champions! I am honored to help address this critical issue.” ...

Sunday, March 24, 2019

What pops up?

The pop-up on the initial page of the UCLA website doesn't quite acknowledge the admissions scandal, but it implicitly does:

Cold War Lesson for UCLA Admissions?

From the Bruin:

UCLA Athletics director Dan Guerrero issued a statement Friday concerning the involvement of UCLA Athletics in the bribery scheme admitting students to universities as student-athletes.
According to court records released on March 12, UCLA men’s soccer coach Jorge Salcedo was one of many allegedly involved in the scheme, which included the facilitation of cheating on college entrance exams.
“The behavior described in the allegations is disturbing and unacceptable,” Guerrero said in the statement. “Representing this university with character and integrity is paramount, not just for me, but for every coach, staff member and student-athlete.”
Salcedo resigned Thursday for his alleged involvement in the scheme.
Guerrero outlined the admissions process of student-athletes in the statement. Student-athletes are evaluated on both their athletic ability and academic preparation, Guerrero said. Coaches of the student-athletes’ respective sports submit a list of candidates to athletic administration officials who review the candidates and present them to the University’s Student-Athlete Admissions Committee, Guerrero said.
“Inherent in the process is a level of trust that the administration places in the coaches and their evaluations of the abilities and talent levels of prospective student-athletes,” Guerrero said in the statement...

You should be able to get to UCLA today despite LA Marathon

There are various street closures today for the LA Marathon in the general vicinity of UCLA, but you should be able to get there. Of course, it's intersession, so you probably don't need to get there. For more details, go to:

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Listen to the Regents Table a Request for an Out-of-State Tuition Increase

To continue the blog's report on the Regents' rejection of a tuition increase for out-of-state and international students on March 14, yours truly had a chance to listen to the audio of the full Board of that date. Discussion of the tuition issues begins at 1:22:39 at the link below. In fact, no one forcefully made a case for the increase except the UC prez who repeated what she had said the day before. Essentially, she said that without the increase, there would be a "hole" in the budget of $30 million that would require programmatic reductions. Once it became clear that she didn't have the votes to pass the increase, she acquiesced with a statement about not standing in front of a train. But she again reminded the Board of the budgetary consequence. The Regents didn't actually reject the increase, but the motion to adopt it was tabled, presumably for a re-hearing at the May meetings. The UC prez suggested that letters of acceptance going out should have some language indicating that tuition might rise by 2.6%. It was unclear if such letters will go out.

Apart from the UC prez, the only voice that indirectly opposed blocking the increase was from the non-voting staff representative who expressed fears that staff layoffs would result from the resulting budget squeeze.

It might be noted that some of the arguments against a tuition increase raised questions about what the university was expected to do, especially for international students. For example, one Regent noted that a rise in the dollar exchange rate relative to some other currencies meant that international students were experiencing de facto tuition hikes measured in their home currencies. It was unclear, however, how the university could provide a hedge against exchange rate risks, particularly against multiple currency exchange rates. A number of Regents pushed the "let's-get-more-money-from-the-legislature idea, although the legislature has made it clear that it was not keen on supporting out-of-state students and, in fact, only a few years ago pushed for a cap on admission of such students.

You can hear the audio at the link below, again starting at 1:22:39:


Friday, March 22, 2019

Athletic Scandal Touches UCLA - Part 10

UCLA men’s soccer coach Jorge Salcedo resigned in the wake of his alleged involvement in accepting $200,000 in bribes to help enroll two players using fake athletic profiles, an athletic department official confirmed Thursday.

Salcedo had been placed on leave since being indicted last week on charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering after facilitating the acceptance of one female and one male student to the school under the pretense of being soccer players even though they did not play the sport competitively...

Full story at:

Listen to a Regents Committee Debate an Out-of-State Tuition Increase

We earlier posted audio of the entire Regents meeting of last week. At the time, yours truly was in the midst of dealing with end-of-quarter teaching activities. So we had only limited time to deal with the substance of the meeting.

The key item that received public attention was a regental rejection of a proposed tuition increase for out-of-state and international students. This issue was first introduced in the Finance and Capital Strategies Committee of March 13, 2019. At that Committee, although the proposal was ultimately endorsed by a split but majority vote, it became clear that the issue might not pass at the full Board the next day. The UC prez made an appeal for passage at the Committee, citing budgetary needs. Those regents who favored the tuition increase argued in part that out-of-state and international students on average come from families with notably higher incomes than are found (on average) among in-state students' families. Nonetheless, the opponents argued that it was a Bad Thing to discriminate against out-of-staters who bring a diversity of outlook.

You can hear the discussion, starting around minute 3, at:

Speech - Part 3

University of California responds to executive order on free speech

UC Office of the President, Thursday, March 21, 2019

University of California President Janet Napolitano issued the following statement today on the White House’s executive order tying free speech protections to federal funding for colleges and universities nationwide:

The executive order that President Trump signed today is unnecessary. Like many higher education institutions across the country, the University of California is ground zero for robust exchanges of ideas and differing viewpoints.

UC’s policies already align with applicable laws protecting free speech, a fundamental tenet of our democracy and the guiding principle of academic rigor. We have established a national free speech center to explore the evolving dynamics of the First Amendment on campuses. The university has spent significant resources on security and logistical support to facilitate the expression of diverse speakers and opinions. A simple visit to any of our campuses would underscore the superfluous nature of this executive order.

We do not need the federal government to mandate what already exists: our longstanding, unequivocal support for freedom of expression. That tradition is alive and thriving on all of our campuses. This executive order will only muddle policies surrounding free speech, while doing nothing to further the aim of the First Amendment.


Comment: As we have noted in a prior post, it might be best to leave this issue alone. The executive order is unlikely to affect anything related to UC. But free speech is a Big Deal, and seeming to oppose it by opposing the executive order is not good PR. The general public doesn't do nuance. The last paragraph of the item above could have been omitted. All that was needed was to say that we already do what the executive order requires.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Learned Review of Trigger Warnings

From Inside Higher Ed: Trigger warnings don’t help students, and they might even hurt those grappling with serious trauma. That’s the upshot of a new study on trigger warnings published in Clinical Psychological Science.

Concerned about the use of trigger warnings absent clear evidence of their effectiveness, the authors conducted a series of experiments on 1,394 people, a mix of first-year psychology students at Victoria University of Wellington, in New Zealand and internet users. They wanted to know to what extent trigger warnings affect people's ratings of negative material and their symptoms of distress, namely "negative affect," intrusive thoughts and avoidance.

Subjects either watched or read content on topics from car accidents to domestic violence (content involving sexual violence was not part of the experiment -- more on that later). Some got trigger warnings about what was ahead, while others did not. Some reported experiencing traumatic events, such as a "really bad car" or other accident, or domestic abuse.

Afterward, subjects rated their negative emotional states, and the degree to which they experienced intrusive thoughts and tried to avoid thinking about the content. Some subjects were tested on their reading comprehension abilities following exposure to sensitive content.

A “mini meta-analysis” of the experiments revealed that trigger warnings didn’t make any difference. Subjects who saw them, compared with those who did not, judged the videos to be similarly negative, felt similarly negative, experienced similarly frequent intrusive thoughts and avoidance, and comprehended subsequent material similarly well...

Full story with link to study at

New Parking System Coming

It was easier back then (1932)
From an email:

Dear UCLA Parking Permit Holder,

Beginning Sunday, March 24, all parking structure access gates will remain open, except for Jules Stein, UCLA Ronald Reagan Hospital, Medical Plaza, and Luskin Conference Center parking areas. 

This change comes in preparation for the launch of the new Bruin ePermit system, which will alleviate the need for gate access cards for most areas and eventually lead to a permanent transition of no gates within the parking structures.

Please note that although most gates will be left open, your regular parking permit privileges will still be enforced. You are responsible for checking your parking privileges before you park to ensure your permit is valid for that specific structure.

Parking permit privileges:

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at (310) 794-7433.

UCLA Transportation

Speech - Part 2

Note: UC created a free speech center in order to fend off political and judicial attacks. But it has tended to be on the wrong PR side of this issue. When the Trump administration announced it would be producing some kind of free speech regulation, the response should have been "fine, we already do it," rather than a long argument that the rule was unnecessary. Free speech is a motherhood-and-apple-pie value.

In any case, see below:

UC Berkeley in spotlight as Trump expected to issue campus free-speech order

Michael Cabanatuan, March 20, 2019, San Francisco Chronicle

Motherhood and you-know-what

kind of pie
The debate over free speech on college campuses moves into the White House on Thursday, and as has often been the case over the past 50 years, UC Berkeley will be front and center.

President Trump is expected to issue an executive order requiring colleges and universities to support free speech if they want federal funding — and four past or present members of the Berkeley College Republicans, the conservative student organization that helped provoke a nationwide debate over free speech on college campuses, say they’ve been invited to witness the signing.

The group has organized numerous events featuring or promising conservative headliners, including provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, whose speech was canceled in February 2017 by the university after protesters — many of whom were non-students affiliated with local anarchist groups — broke through barricades, stormed the building, broke glass and lit fires.

That incident led to protests, counter-protests and sometimes violent confrontations on the streets of Berkeley and in Civic Center Park downtown.

While much of the tension over the free speech issue on the Berkeley campus has eased, it hasn’t disappeared. Last month, Hayden Williams was punched in the face while recruiting for a conservative organization at a table on Cal’s Sproul Plaza. The attack was captured on video, went viral on the Internet and was played and commented on repeatedly on Fox News. Williams’ attacker was later arrested. Neither man is a UC Berkeley student.

Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ condemned the attack as “reprehensible” and having “no place here.” The university has spent $4 million in the last year to ensure the right of conservative students to “safely and successfully” hold events, Christ said. It settled a lawsuit last fall with the nonprofit Young America’s Foundation, pledging to accommodate conservative events even if protests are threatened.

Still, earlier this month, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump welcomed Williams to the stage, suggested that he sue the university, and promised an executive order requiring universities and colleges to assure free speech if they want to continue receiving federal money. No specifics have been mentioned. Critics have said such an order is unnecessary.

Matt Ranau, president of the Berkeley College Republicans, said he supports the president’s order and is thrilled that he’ll be able to see it being signed. Ranau and three present or former members of the conservative campus group, were invited Monday to the signing ceremony.

“Being invited is a huge honor,” Ranau said. “I’ve never been to D.C. or seen the president up close. Obviously free speech on college campuses is something very close to me. I’m really glad President Trump is taking some action on addressing this issue. I’m fully supportive.”

Naweed Tahmas, the group’s former vice president who graduated in May; Troy Worden, the group’s past president; and Jacob Nikolau, a current student and member, who was working at the table with Williams, also were invited to attend.

The anticipated executive order would come the week after a federal judge in Oakland again dismissed four other conservative students’ lawsuits against UC Berkeley and its officials but allowed them to sue two UC police officers for their actions in the 2017 riot that prompted the cancellation of Yiannopoulos’ speech.

The students say that the police allegedly put them in danger by locking the doors to Martin Luther King Center, blocking a possible escape route as the violent protest raged outside.

Wednesday’s court ruling will allow the conservative students’ attorney to question UC officials, including President Janet Napolitano and police officials, about the orders given officers, said Shawn Steel, an attorney in the case and a Republican National Committeeman.

“That’s going to be fun,” Steel said.

UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said the university “is prepared to vigorously and successfully defend our position in court.”

On Wednesday night, the Associated Students of the University of California was considering a resolution supporting free speech, condemning violence and noting that UC Berkeley, the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement, has come under a “misconception... that depicts the University to be one that is against free speech.”


UPDATE: The text of the order is at:

FURTHER UPDATE: There are lessons in the sequence of stories below from South Dakota concerning excess internal political correctness and external political response.

Noem, GOP target university 'political correctness' with first-of-its-kind diversity, speech law

Jonathan Ellis, Sioux Falls Argus Leader | Published 7:57 p.m. CT March 20, 2019

South Dakota became the first state in the country to pass a law requiring its university system to promote intellectual diversity after Gov. Kristi Noem signed a bill into law Wednesday.

The measure also bars the South Dakota Board of Regents and the state’s six public universities from interfering with constitutionally protected speech, including speech that some might find “offensive, unwise, immoral, indecent, disagreeable, conservative, liberal, traditional, radical or wrong-headed.”

"Our university campuses should be places where students leave their comfort zones and learn about competing ideas and perspectives,” Noem said in a release. “I hope this bill lets the nation know that in South Dakota, we are teaching our next generation to debate important issues, work together to solve problems, and think independently.”

The bill had the support of two national groups, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, which promotes intellectual diversity, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a group that promotes free speech, association and religious liberty on college campuses.

“An act of this scale concerning academic freedom and intellectual diversity is unprecedented, and sets a strong example for leadership in other states," said Michael Poliakoff, president of ACTA.

The bill was introduced after Republican lawmakers probed the Board of Regents for more than a year about incidents related to whether students’ free speech rights were being squelched by political correctness. Conservative groups have criticized colleges across the country following incidents in which conservative speakers were denied opportunities to speak, either by college administrators or angry protesters.

In response to lawmaker questions about free speech and so-called “free speech zones,” which limited where students had free speech rights, the board last fall passed new policies that guaranteed free speech on campuses.

But some lawmakers wanted those free speech rights, as well as the promotion of intellectual diversity, added to state law.

The bill passed the House but died in a Senate committee. However, lawmakers revived it after students at the University of South Dakota School of Law were asked to change the theme of a winter social from "Hawaiian Day" to "Beach Day" amid concerns that calling it Hawaiian was culturally incentive. The students were also told by the administration not to hand out lei, traditional Hawaiian flower garlands, at the party.

"Free speech zones send the false and illiberal message that a student's First Amendment rights are dangerous, and should be constrained within tiny, pre-approved areas of campus,” said FIRE Executive Director Robert Shibley. “We commend legislators in South Dakota for recognizing the critical importance of free speech to higher education, and encourage other states to follow their lead.”

The Board of Regents, which had opposed the bill, agreed to a compromise version signed by Noem.

Besides promoting free speech, it requires each university to report each year what they did to promote intellectual diversity and the free exchange of ideas, and to describe instances in which intellectual diversity or the free exchange of ideas were impeded.

The intellectual diversity provision also had the backing of conservatives, who point to surveys showing that Democrats far outnumber Republicans among college faculty and administrators.


USD regents back investigation into 'Hawaiian Day,' possible free speech policy violation

Jonathan Ellis, Sioux Falls Argus Leader | Published 9:28 a.m. CT March 4, 2019 | Updated 11:33 a.m. CT March 4, 2019

The president of the South Dakota Board of Regents said Monday that he approves of the University of South Dakota’s investigation into whether the board’s policy on free speech was violated in connection with a student party.

Kevin V. Schieffer commended USD president Sheila Gestring, who called for an investigation over the weekend into actions that led the law school’s Student Bar Association from changing the name of its “Hawaiian Day” social event to “Beach Day.” In a message to its members, the association said the name had been changed after it was “informed that our previous ‘Hawaiian Day’ was politically incorrect and a violation of our inclusive excellence policy.” The students were also advised not to hand out leis because the flower garlands given to tourists might be deemed “culturally incentive.”

Schieffer and other board members voted last fall to update the board’s policy on free speech, in an effort to bolster free speech rights for students on the state’s six university campuses.

“The board has made it very clear in policy that neither professors nor administrators can block or unduly interfere with free speech simply because some might find it offensive,” Schieffer said in a release Monday. “While it is important to conduct a careful investigation to ensure we understand all of the facts, it is also important to send a strong and prompt message that our freedom of expression policies will be enforced on the campuses. President Gestring has done that. We look forward to a full accounting of this case based on a record of factual findings rather than unsubstantiated reports.”

Schieffer added that the board looks forward to a report on the incident.

“We need to know that all of our institutions are effectively communicating and enforcing free speech,” he said. “Regardless of the outcome, this case presents a good opportunity to make sure that happens.”

On Saturday, Nathan Lukkes, the board’s general counsel, sent a memo to university presidents that said the board’s policy protects speech that some might find “offensive, bigoted, or otherwise distasteful.”

“The goal of our universities should not be to shield students from speech they find to be upsetting, offensive, or even emotionally disturbing,” he said.

“Our students,” he added,” should learn the importance of winning the day by persuasion, ideas, and facts, not by obstruction or censorship.”

The Hawaiian Day controversy comes as the first test of the board’s new policy on free speech, which was updated amid incidents on college campuses across the country in which academics, writers and others were denied opportunities to speak at colleges because their views were considered unwelcome.

On Wednesday, lawmakers in the South Dakota Senate defeated a bill that would have added free speech requirements for the state’s universities into state law. The bill also would have mandated intellectual diversity among faculty and staff. The Board of Regents lead efforts to kill the bill.

But following the Hawaiian Day controversy, some lawmakers were contemplating efforts to revive the bill, which had already passed in the House.

USD president launches investigation into law school’s ‘Hawaiian Day’ decision

Trevor Mitchell and Jonathan Ellis, Sioux Falls Argus Leader | Published 4:39 p.m. CT March 2, 2019 | Updated 11:34 a.m. CT March 4, 2019

The University of South Dakota will be investigating the actions that led to a student organization renaming an event after it was told holding a “Hawaiian Day” event violates the school’s inclusiveness policy, the university announced Saturday.

USD President Sheila Gestring initiated the investigation, which will focus on the actions of the interim administration of the University of South Dakota School of Law, according to a press release.

The school's Student Bar Association notified members Wednesday in a Facebook message that the event would be renamed “Beach Day,” but that leis would still be distributed.

The association later said that leis would no longer be handed out after "it was determined that these are culturally insensitive by the administration after doing research based off of the essay written by the initial complainant."

Michelle Cwach, the university’s director of marketing communications and university relations, earlier this week said the interim administration advised that “certain elements of the programming be changed” and that leis not be distributed after hearing concerns from another law student.

The investigation will determine whether those actions violated Board of Regents policies, specifically related to the regents’ commitment to freedom of expression.

The policy, quoted in part in the release, notes that the university has a "fundamental commitment to the principle that viewpoints may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the institution’s community to be offensive, unwise, immoral or wrong-headed."

The release says policy violations are a serious matter, and the investigation into whether a violation occurred will be "thorough and swift."

"Administrative censorship of student speech and expression is a serious matter and not something USD condones," the release said, "without compelling justification consistent with Board policy, such as a genuine threat."

USD law students change party theme after 'Hawaiian Day' deemed 'culturally insensitive'

Jonathan Ellis, Sioux Falls Argus Leader | Published 6:56 p.m. CT Feb. 28, 2019 | Updated 12:17 p.m. CT March 1, 2019

A student organization at the University of South Dakota has been told that holding a “Hawaiian Day” social event violates the school’s policy on inclusiveness.

As a result, the Student Bar Association of the USD School of Law changed the name of the event to “Beach Day.” In a Facebook message to its members, the group said: “We greatly apologize to those we offended; it was unintentional.”

In the same message announcing the change from Hawaiian Day to Beach Day, members were told that the dress code was the same – floral shirts – and that leis, the traditional flower garlands that are often given to tourists in Hawaii, would also be handed out. But in a second message that went out to members on Wednesday, bar members were told that leis had been nixed from the event.

“It was determined that these are culturally insensitive by the administration after doing research based off of the essay written by the initial complainant,” the message said.

“All in all,” the message continued, “please try to just enjoy the event tomorrow – no matter what side you are on. Free food is still free food!”

Michelle Cwach, the university’s director of marketing communications and university relations, said the law school’s interim administration advised the Student Bar Association not to distribute leis because using items of cultural significance might be viewed as inappropriate. However, students were not told they couldn’t wear leis.

The event started as a pre-spring-break morale booster in what has been a brutal run of cold and snow in the Upper Midwest.

But after the event was announced as Hawaiian Day, SBA leaders were approached by another law student who expressed concern about the use of indigenous cultural symbols, Cwach said in an email.

A group leader met with school administration to discuss the issue. The administration reviewed an essay submitted by the concerned student and advised that the Hawaiian Day theme be changed, Cwach said.

The decision to change the event Wednesday came on the same day that South Dakota lawmakers killed a bill that would have mandated free speech on the state’s college campuses and required the Board of Regents to promote intellectual diversity among college faculty and staffs. Paul Beran, the CEO and executive director of the board, urged lawmakers to kill the bill, which had already passed in the House. A Senate committee voted the bill down.

Last fall, the board revised its policy on free speech to in what Cwach said was a “strong commitment to the First Amendment.”

“USD has already addressed this issue with interim law school administration and the SBA to clarify its commitment to the First Amendment,” she said. “USD continues to seek new ways to educate its campus community and current and incoming leaders on its responsibility to the First Amendment.”

Janelle Toman, the spokeswoman for the Board of Regents, described the review of the Hawaii Day party as an “isolated instance.”

“There is no system-wide review of university social events by the Board of Regents, and we have no such plans to do so going forward,” she said in an email.