Media Coverage 9/30/16

Soon-to-be-former UC Berkeley Chancellor Dirks told an audience Clinton’s plan for free tuition “won’t happen.” To offset a mostly quiet week on the UC news front, I’ve included some recent reports on free tuition and the state of American higher education. Also this week, Blake Wentworth, a faculty member accused of sexually harassing students, filed defamation suits against three of his accusers.

Free Tuition

9/27 – Berkeley chancellor: Clinton free college plan ‘won’t happen’ (THE): Speaking at summit, Dirks said he would “love” to see Clinton’s plan happen, but that political realities will likely get in the way. He also noted free tuition may lead to greater government control of research institutions, which could be a problem. He may having in mind the federal ban on firearms research, an area where the UC system is actively picking up the slack.

9/29 – US Dept. of Ed report: Reaching the Limit (link): While college costs are rising, students have begun taking out more federal loans. However, a rising amount turn to the private market (with its higher fees and interest) before they’ve maxed out their federal options.

9/29 – Campaign for Free College Tuition report: How expensive is free college for states (link): Report calculates the cost per state of free tuition, but notes these large sums may be offset by returns from a more educated workforce.

9/29 – APLU report: Public University Values (link): The APLU has launched a campaign to improve the public image of large research universities. The campaign emphasizes decreased state funding.

Other UC News

9/30 – Low Returns, High Pressure (IHE): The return on UC’s endowment is a very poor -3.4 percent. Trump has suggested he would cut federal tax breaks for university endowments should they not lower costs sufficiently.

9/29 – Berkeley professor at center of sexual harassment scandal sues his accusers (Guardian): Blake Wentworth has sued three students who accused him of sexual harassment. The assistant professor of south and south-east Asian studies claims the accusations are false and intended to derail his career.

More DailyCal | SFGate

Elsewhere in higher ed

9/28 – Small Agency, Big Impact (IHE): The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has stepped into the world of private student loans and for-profit universities

9/29 – Mizzou Incident Rekindles Anger Over Treatment of Black Students (Chronicle): Mizzou is back in the spotlight after an ugly incident where slurs were shouted at students of color

Media Coverage 9/23/16

After caving to outside pressure from Jewish groups and banning (on officially technical grounds) a student-led DeCal course covering Palestine , UC Berkeley was again swayed by outside pressure to reinstate the class. However, the press hasn’t been able to get the inside story of decision-making that led to the reversal, it seems…

Officially, a university dean met with the class facilitator after she determined the course hadn’t been properly reviewed. After the meeting and a few tweaks to the syllabus, the course has been reinstated. Obviously, this is not the full story, but it is the one the university will admit to.

Elsewhere, a university is suing its student newspaper (an incredible story) and beer sales are now seen as a funding savior. But first, more students on UC campuses:

UC Enrollment

9/22 – UC campuses scramble to make room for thousands more new California students (LAT): The fallout from UCOP’s ‘more in-state students for more money’ deal with Gov. Brown is being felt in  ever tighter dorm rooms. This quote sums up the impact on Berkeley nicely: “Overall, Berkeley expects to hire more than 130 new instructors and teaching assistants. The nearly $3.8 million in state funds the campus received for the new students wasn’t enough to cover the extra classes, instruction, housing, tutoring, mental health services, technology, classrooms and housing. Berkeley had to redirect $2.2 million more to pay for them, even though it faces a critical budget deficit.”

Palestine: A Settler Colonial History

Dean of Social Sciences Carla Hesse’s letter about her decision to reinstate the class can be found here.

9/19 – UC Berkeley reinstates class on Palestine following outcry over its suspension (Guardian): A nice overview of reactions from various sides following the reinstatement.

9/20 – Op-Ed: DeCal’s cancellation transpired through unfair shortcuts (DailyCal): Associate Prof. Samera Esmeir argues the universities swift move to cancel the course throws into doubt “the survival of spaces for students to study and debate difficult and politically complex issues facing our world today.”

9/19 – UC Berkeley reinstates controversial course on history of Palestine (LAT): Article questions whether the syllabus was meaningfully changed.

CSU

9/22 – Governor signs bills to boost graduation rates at California universities (LAT): Law intended to boost the CSU system’s low graduation rate was signed.

Elsewhere in Higher Ed

9/22 – U. Kentucky is suing its student newspaper, trying to block sexual assault reporting (WaPo): In a truly incredible story, UK went ahead and sued its student newspaper, trying to prevent it from releasing public documents (which the state AG ordered the school to hand over to the newspaper). The newspaper believes the university is seeking to protect itself, as the documents in question concern a professor accused of sexual misconduct.

9/19 – Get Yer Beer Here (IHE): Despite fears of drunk undergrads, public universities are turning to alcohol sales at football games to boost revenue and attendance.

9/21 – CC not free for some Oregon students with heavy course loads (AP): A much-hyped free-tuition plan in Oregon comes with a bit of fine print, to the surprise of some students who will see (admittedly) small bills.

Media Coverage 9/16/16

This week, UC Berkeley cancelled a student-led course on Palestine after pressure from various groups affiliated with Israel, UC President Janet Napolitano openly campaigned for Hillary Clinton and the often-criticized but nonetheless influential USNWR rankings affirmed that despite its financial struggles, the UC system’s campuses are still considered the finest public universities in the nation (for a more meaningful story about USNWR, look to the Fresno State link). Oh, and and the UC’s debt is $17,200,000,000.

Palestine Course

9/15 – Suspension of controversial Palestine class at UC Berkeley sparks debate (Guardian): The class, entitled “Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis” has been accused of being “anti-Israel and antisemitic” and “intended to indoctrinate students to hate the Jewish state.” Hatem Bazian, a lecturer, was the faculty sponsor of the course. In the article, he notes the class went through the required approval processes.

9/15 – Berkeley Bans a Palestine Class (AcademeBlog): The AAUP’s blog presents a thorough timeline of the controversy.

More coverage – Inside Higher Ed | SF Chronicle

Rankings

9/13 – California schools score high in U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 college rankings (SFGate): Berkeley is the nation’s best public university, according to the newest iteration of the USNWR ranking, a scheme more often criticized than praised. Nonetheless, this is the 15th year in a row in which Berkeley tops the list.

9/13 – Fresno State’s graduation rate puts school No. 1 in U.S. News and World Report ranking (SacBee): More meaningfully than the above, Fresno State was found to lead the nation on a metric that compares an institutions graduation rate with its expected rate, based on demographic profiles of students.

Debt

9/15 – University of California debt soars to $17 billion; regents consider new borrowing policy (SJMN):  As the UC system approaches its limit of debt borrowing, the regents may consider creating a new policy to allow for more borrowing.

Napolitano

9/11 – Column: UC President Janet Napolitano leaves no doubt she’s with Clinton (SFChron):  The UC president is hosting a fundraiser for Clinton, which the Chron suggests is the first instance of a UC president actively campaigning for a presidential candidate. According to the article:

Legal guidelines issued by UC’s office of general counsel say the university “may not endorse or contribute to candidates for elective office.” It also says UC officials “should use care to avoid confusion between private and public roles.

 

Media Coverage 9/9/16

In a relatively slow week for UC news, UC Berkeley saw yet more controversy after the publication of a letter by Sujit Choudhry. Choudhry was dean of the law school until revelations about a lawsuit alleging he sexually harassed his assistant. Elsewhere, there was an interesting story on lobbying efforts by California’s community college students.

Choudhry

9/6 – Op-Ed: An open letter from Sujit Choudhry about sexual harrasment  (sic) (DailyCal): Choudhry argues the on-going investigation is inappropriate in light of an earlier report that included he had no sexual intent toward his assistant. Here is an excerpt worth reading:

I received an investigative report that concluded, correctly, that I was unconscious of my actions toward Ms. Sorrell. The report made many factual findings that I contested then and which I contest to this day. But I accepted the report in an effort to take responsibility for my actions, to learn from what had happened and to try to enable both Ms. Sorrell and myself to move on. And I accepted the report in exchange for a complete set of sanctions that the university handed down to me through then-executive vice chancellor and provost Claude Steele — sanctions that the entire campus leadership, including Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and his legal advisers, described as “warranted and appropriate for this situation.” By accepting the settlement offered to me by university leadership, I also made the judgment call not to exercise a number of rights available to me under university policy, which, in real and practical terms, I cannot effectively exercise now. I abided by and fulfilled every term of that sanction, including by apologizing in writing to Ms. Sorrell — an apology that, unbeknownst to me, the university literally put in a drawer and failed to provide to Ms. Sorrell for roughly two months.

This past March, Ms. Sorrell launched a lawsuit against the university and me. For days, the lawsuit was international news, and my picture appeared online, in print and on local television. My family was besieged for weeks by media from around the world. Four days after the lawsuit was commenced, I learned, through an article in a newspaper, that UC President Janet Napolitano had directed Dirks to ban me from campus and initiate a second, “do-over” disciplinary process against me, and that she had earlier called my behavior “groping.”

The public response was fast and furious. Petitions were circulated calling for me to be fired. I was called a rapist on Twitter. A leading national newspaper accused me of “forcibly kissing” Ms. Sorrell (it retracted that statement later). Another newspaper called me a “predator.” My 11-year-old daughter learned about the lawsuit from the internet on her school computer. She read racist online comments about me that she cannot erase from her mind. My wife developed serious health problems. I became too frightened to leave my own home, an exiled pariah. I watched helplessly as my reputation as an academic administrator, a scholar, a husband, a father and a friend crumbled in a matter of days.

The university has now launched a second disciplinary process against me, more than a year after the initial complaint was made and many months after the first process concluded with a full, complete, “warranted and appropriate” sanction. The public reaction to my case has everything to do with the university’s unprecedented effort to launch this “do-over” investigation. That public reaction was also fueled by the university’s handling of other sexual harassment investigations within the UC system. While I understand that context and share in the community’s concern that the university must be a respectful and inclusive environment, it is a fact that my case has been handled in an unprecedented manner because of the conduct of others and the administration’s desire to deflect attention away from itself.

Although neither Ms. Sorrell nor the university’s investigators considered my conduct to be sexual or predatory in intent, that fact — that uncontested fact — has, remarkably, fallen by the wayside in the rush to condemn me.

9/7 – Law school ex-dean’s letter on sex-harassment case sparks protest (SFGate): Protesters descended on Boalt Hall following the letter’s publication. Some even went so far as to question the Daily Cal for publishing the piece.

Higher Ed News of Note

9/4 – Lobbying for California’s 2.3 million community college students with a $0 budget (EastBayTimes): Despite a state law allowing community college’s to collect student fees to support lobbying efforts, the system’s campuses have been slow to impose the fee and organize student government structures to support lobbying. Nonetheless, a few students have taken it upon themselves to work for their colleagues, and five of the seven bills they supported are awaiting Gov. Brown’s pen, including a bill that requires schools to allow homeless students access to campus showers.

9/8 – Clinton to convene meeting with Petraeus, other national security experts (Politico): UC President Janet Napolitano will meet with Clinton to discuss the state of US security.

9/3 – Citing Safety Concerns, Northwestern U. Bans Tenured ‘Gadfly’ Professor From Campus (Chronicle): In an uncomfortable situation, Jacqueline Stevens has been asked by NU to undergo an evaluation of her “fitness for duty.” She counters that she is being punished for speaking her mind. Some of her colleagues say she has made them feel unsafe.

9/8 – UK vs. Kentucky Kernel newspaper | What we know (CourierJournal): The University of Kentucky is still suing its student newspaper over the publication of records it tried to conceal.

9/9 – Pennsylvania State Colleges Faculties Vote on Whether to Strike (NBC): The faculty of 14 campuses have been without a contact since June of 2015.

 

Media Coverage 9/2/16

There was a bit of a dustup among members of the Berkeley faculty that played out on the editorial pages of the student newspaper. Renowned (and quite famous) scholar Judith Butler accused a small, secretive group of faculty of conspiring to oust Dirks, though Butler did attempt to withdraw an editorial she wrote advancing such claims. Unfortunately, it was published anyway. The chairs of Political Science and Sociology responded, noting such theories are not based in reality. Also, the paper took a shot at Dirks’ failed global campus in Richmond. Below, there is a section of news on the NRLB decision allowing grad students to unionize at private schools.

Editorials on Dirks

8/30 – Editorial: A fond farewell to the Berkeley Global Campus (DailyCal): A well-aimed swipe at Dirks and his administration’s focus on a doomed project while so many problems were apparent on Berkeley’s existing campus.

8/30 – Op-Ed: Next chancellor must rebuild trust (DailyCal): A piece written by current and former chairs of the Berkeley Faculty Association argue the next chancellor must not accept the current status of state funding and the methods used to stay afloat in such an environment, such as increasing tuition and a reliance on corporate money. The writers propose a new statewide tax to return funding to 2000 levels.

8/30 -Op-Ed: Chancellor Nicholas Dirks’ resignation no great mystery (DailyCal): Mara Loveman and Eric Schickler, chairs of sociology and political science, respectively, respond to claims advanced by Judith Butler that Dirks’ resignation was pushed by a small secret group of faculty members. The pair note 47 faculty members called for a meeting of the senate to discuss a no-confidence vote, a number well above the 25 required.

UC News

8/31 – UC President Janet Napolitano on Leadership Changes, State of UC System (KQED): A long interview with the UC president on what challenges await the UC system.

8/30 – New California Community Colleges Chancellor Wants College to be Accessible for All (KQED): A long interview with the the recently appointed Chancellor of the state’s community college system.

8/30 – Search for new UC Davis chancellor is on (DavisEnt): The hunt for a replacement for Linda Katehi has begun. The article notes Regents hope to approve the next leader by early 2017.

9/1 – Sen. Barbara Boxer is donating congressional papers to UC Berkeley (LATimes): The retiring senator will have a lecture series named after her, intended to highlight women in leadership roles.

9/1 – Former GSA president to leave UCLA, finish law school at NYU (DailyBruin): Former UCLA GSA president transfers after he says he was harassed for his opposition to the BDS movement. The right-wing press has picked up on the story.

8/30 – Cal State students could get help graduating on time under bill sent to governor (LATimes): A bill is before the governor that would give extra help at CS campuses to low-income and first-gen students, plus community college graduates and students from communities with low college attendance rates.

8/30 – UC Davis Medical Center to house first-ever state gun violence research center (SacBee): UC Davis will host a gun violence research center, a project that the legislature created this session.

NLRB Ruling

8/26 – Op-Ed: Academic Work Is Labor, Not Romance (Chronicle): In light of the NRLB’s decision to allow grad students at private universities to unionize, the author reflects on how academic labor is often misperceived as something other than work. The author also notes this ruling helps elucidate how universities are built on the backs of the perilously employed, namely graduate student teachers and adjuncts.

8/28 – Graduate Students Are Workers: The Decades-Long Fight for Graduate Unions, and the Path Forward (TruthOut): An overview of the history from the NRLB’s ruling against Brown students in 2004 to its recent reversal.

8/30 – CORPORATE UNIVERSITIES ARE SHOCKED TO LEARN THEY HAVE GRADUATE STUDENT EMPLOYEES (RemakingtheU): Parsing the NRLB’s decision and the response form private universities, who have warned grad students organizing may change the nature of the student-advisor relationship.