Media Coverage 3/25/17

Once again UC Berkeley is in the news after a high-profile professor has been accused of sexual misconduct. John Searle, professor emeritus of philosophy, has been accused in a lawsuit of sexual assault, sexual harassment and wrongful termination. A 24-year-old graduate student alleges Searle grouped her and told her they would become “lovers” after promising to support her career while she was employed at the Searle Center for Social Ontology. The lawsuit alleges that the victim told university employees who took no formal action. Jennifer Hudin, the center’s director, allegedly told the student she would protect her and that Searle has before had sexual relationships with students in exchange for academic benefits and money. Hudin later told the student she would not take action out of loyalty to Searle. The victim claims her salary was cut and she was fired by Searle after refusing his advances. The lawsuit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, also alleges Searle watched pornography on campus. Searle stopped teaching an undergraduate course in March. In other news, the Sacramento Bee reported that the four-month UC investigation into former UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi cost nearly $1 million, which came out of UCOP’s endowment. The UC system’s other tarnished chancellor, soon-to-be-former Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, was found to have improperly received around $10,000 worth of free gym benefits. At UC San Diego, a conservative organization is supporting a poster campaign targeting UC President Janet Napolitano over her support of sanctuary campuses. In an interview, Napolitano insisted the UC system is committed to continuing partnerships with Mexican researchers.

3/23 – A Former Student Says UC Berkeley’s Star Philosophy Professor Groped Her And Watched Porn At Work (BuzzFeed): The article contains a PDF of the lawsuit and notes that BuzzFeed has received tips of other complaints against Searle.

Also see: Inside Higher Ed | SFGate

3/24 – UC spent nearly $1 million in probe of former UC Davis Chancellor Katehi (SacBee): UCOP insists the money does not include tuition or state funding.

3/23 – UC is moving forward with Mexican initiative, regardless of Trump actions (LATimes): Despite President Trump’s hostile stance toward Mexico, UC insists it will continue a close collaboration with researchers within the United States’ southern neighbor.

3/24 – UC probe finds Cal chancellor got improper freebies from gym (SFGate): The report notes:

“After a months-long investigation by the president’s office, UC concluded in September that Dirks had improperly allowed a ‘newish’ $3,500 elliptical exercise machine to be installed in the chancellor’s home; had been given a complementary, four-year membership to the Recreational Sports Facility worth $1,870; and had 48 free workout sessions with Wicks worth ‘a minimum of $3,120.'”

Also see: LA Times

3/23 – Posters to go up at UC San Diego targeting Janet Napolitano and ‘sanctuary campuses’ (LATimes): A conservative organization plans a poster campaign to target UC President Napolitano over her support of sanctuary campuses.

3/23 – Press Release: UC, Teamsters reach tentative agreement on labor contract for clerical staff (UCOP): The contract will last until 2022. According to the press release:

  • Wages: An annual 3 percent wage increase for every covered employee, totaling 18 percent over the life of the contract.
  • Ratification bonus:  A $1,200 bonus per clerical employee, paid upon contract ratification (except those at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory due to U.S. Department of Energy regulations).
  • Health care: A $25 limit on any rate increases to the Kaiser and Health Net Blue and Gold health insurance plans, to further protect lower-salaried employees in an ever-changing health care market. The typical UC clerical employee will continue to pay an average of just $32 a month, or $384 per year, for generous health benefits for themselves and their dependents. By contrast, the average American worker pays more than $5,200 per year for less generous health benefits for just themselves.
  • Retirement benefits: Employees hired before July 1, 2016 — the vast majority of all UC clerical staff — will continue to receive the same retirement benefits they currently do at the same contribution rates. Employees hired on or after July 1, 2016 will have the option to choose either a traditional pension plan or a 401(k)-style plan, whichever fits their preference and needs.

Media Coverage 3/17/17

Carol Christ has been appointed Berkeley’s next chancellor, the first female to hold the position. An expert on Victorian literature, Christ served as executive vice chancellor and provost for six years in the 1990s. In 2002, she left Berkeley, where she had worked since becoming an assistant professor in 1970, to become president of Smith College, a role she held from 2002 to 2013. Christ returned to UC in 2015 to lead the campus’s Center for Studies in Higher Education and became interim executive vice chancellor and provost in May, replacing Claude Steele who resigned due to a perception that he and other campus leaders were tolerant of sexual misconduct. Christ has again been called on to fill a post vacated by a controversial resignation, as current Chancellor Nicholas Dirks agreed to step down following mounting criticism around his handling of sexual misconduct and an investigation into misuse of funds. The move was met with a high-level of praise from various bodies representing campus communities, including the Faculty Senate, the BFA and the Daily Cal’s editorial board. Christ’s salary will be$532,000, the same as what Dirks currently earns. Regents approved her appointment on Thursday and she will officially take over July 1.

In other news, Assembly Democrats announced a plan to reduce student debt. The plan has four components: (1) to make community colleges tuition free for one-year; (2) to expand the Success Grants program for low-income community college students; (3) reject Gov. Brown’s proposed elimination of the Middle Class Scholarship, which covers about 40 percent of tuition for 55,000 students; (4) and to create a new Degrees Not Debt Scholarship to help with non-tuition related costs of attending a UC or CSU campus. The governor’s office has expressed skepticism about the state’s ability to fund the $1.6 billion program. Elsewhere, the UC Regents delayed a vote on the non-resident enrollment cap until May. While it hasn’t received media attention, Assemblymembers Kevin Kiley (R-Roseville) and Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) have proposed a bill that would “urge” higher education campuses in California to adopt a free speech statement similar to the one produced by the University of Chicago (which you can read here).

3/13 – Carol Christ is named UC Berkeley’s chancellor (SFChronicle): Note the following reactions quoted by the paper:

“It’s fantastic news for the campus. Carol already commands a great deal of respect from the faculty,” said Robert Powell, a political science professor who chairs the Faculty Senate on campus.

“Carol Christ’s integrity, commitment to transparency and genuine love for UC Berkeley make her a worthy choice,” said the group’s co-chair, Celeste Langan, an associate professor of English, though “we don’t expect always to agree with (her) on every issue.”

For example, Langan said, her group believes the solution to the campus deficit “is to restore full public funding of tuition, not to turn the university into a revenue-generating business enterprise.” But she said Christ, who has not advocated eliminating tuition, has “demonstrated her willingness to engage in respectful, collegial dialogue.”

Michael O’Hare, a professor at the campus’ Goldman School of Public Policy, was so enthused by her selection that he emailed lyrics from Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Mikado,” which include the sentiment: “With joyous shout and ringing cheer, inaugurate our new career!”

O’Hare said he thinks Christ might be the first chancellor willing to slash money-losing intercollegiate athletics.

“I think she’ll have the courage to put them on a short financial leash, even if that means we have to leave Division 1, which I think would be great,” he said.

Kathryn Lybarger, a UC Berkeley gardener and president of the statewide labor union, congratulated Christ in a statement while inviting her to “join our efforts to address skyrocketing executive compensation (and) prevent outsourcing of career jobs to poverty wage contractors.”

3/17 – Editorial: Appointment of Carol Christ good for campus (DailyCal): Student editorial praises Christ for her knowledge of the campus and notes some of the challenges she may face, such a decision over whether to build a dorm on People’s Park.

3/14 – Editorial: Assembly Democrats over-promise free college (SacBee): Given uncertainty around Federal funding for social programs, now may not be the best time for a large new expenditure, the paper writes.

Also see: Official Statement

3/13 – Debt-free college? Assembly Democrats want to make it possible for California students (SacBee): The plan would cost the state about $1.6 billion, a figure the governor is citing in statements reflecting his office’s skepticism toward the state’s ability to pay for plan.

3/16 – UC regents debate enrollment limits on students from other states and countries, approve Berkeley chancellor (LATimes): The Regents delayed until May a vote on a proposal to limit out-of-state enrollment system-wide to 20 percent. A number of issues are in the air, including how to treat campuses which already exceed the limit and will be allowed to maintain their current levels under the plan and whether the cap is set at the right level. There is pressure both to lower the cap and to eliminate it.

3/16 -Four-year degree costs drop at California systems (IHE): According to a report, the institutional costs per degree dropped by 6 percent at UC from 1987 to 2013. In 2013, the cost was $109,000.

3/15 – University of California Fund to Double Private-Equity Holdings (Bloomberg): UC will double its investment in private equity (such as startups) and reduce what is held in traditional stocks, a move the fund’s manager said is made with long-term stability in mind.

Media Coverage 3/10/17

UC has proposed capping out-of-state undergraduate enrollment at 20 percent. The details to the proposal are key, as the cap would apply to the system-wide proportion, meaning some campuses would be able to exceed the 20 percent threshold (at Berkeley, nonresidents make up about 24.5 percent), so long as the inflated nonresident enrollment is balanced out elsewhere (at UC Merced, the rate is below one percent). However, the three campuses currently above 20 percent — Berkeley, UCLA and UC San Diego — would not be allowed to grow their share of out-of-state ranks any further. Last year, lawmakers in Sacramento said UC would not receive an additional $18.5 million unless it established a cap on such enrollment, a demand tied to a controversial state audit which criticized the system for admitting too many students from outside California. Currently, nonresident students make up 16.5 percent of the system’s 210,000 undergraduates. UC contends out-of-state enrollment increases diversity and funds the education of additional Californians, as nonresidents brought in $550 million in tuition in 2016-17. The average percent of nonresident enrollment within the 62-member AAU is 27.9 percent. In other news, a large group of former students of Nezar AlSayyad — a Berkeley architecture professor accused in media reports of sexual misconduct — decried the academic’s ‘trial by the press’ and questioned the validity of any investigation into his conduct.

3/6 – UC proposes its first enrollment cap — 20% — on out-of-state students (LATimes): The article notes a lukewarm response to the proposal, including from Assemblymen Kevin McCarty and faculty representatives:

“It’s a mixed bag,” McCarty said of the UC proposal. “Finally, after all of these years, UC is on the verge of setting a firm nonresident policy that will help us prioritize California kids. But we were hoping the cap would be at today’s numbers. It’s close, but it falls a little short.”

…Faculty members are not enthusiastic, said UC Academic Senate Chairman James Chalfant. They oppose an “arbitrary quota,” he said, that could force UC to turn away the best and the brightest and forgo additional needed dollars. The group has presented an alternative that would impose enrollment limits only on campuses at which the expansion of nonresident students hurts Californians and only after UC is given enough funding to maintain its quality.

3/6 – Op-Ed: Berkeley professor accused of misconduct being railroaded (EBT): Thirty-six former students of Berkeley Professor Professor Nezar AlSayyad question the treatment of their former mentor who has been accused in media accounts of sexual misconduct. The authors claim support for AlSayyad and question the investigation into his actions.

3/8 – Sexual harassment: records show how University of California faculty target students (Guardian): More coverage of last week’s records release concerning over 100 cases of sexual misconduct. This article highlights how faculty members have targeted students.

3/10 – UC Berkeley cops release photos of 31 suspects in campus riot (SFGate): UC Berkeley police have asked the public for help in identifying 31 suspects in the riot that prevented Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking on campus.

 

 

 

 

Media Coverage (3/3/17)

An investigation by the Bay Area News Group has exposed the extent of sexual misconduct on UC campuses, turning up 124 incidents following a records request, which the UC system took 16 months to respond to (a number of other outlets made a similar request, receiving the records at the same time). A number of upsetting stories emerged from UCSF, the campus with the greatest number of incidents. The documents also reveal a tendency to go easy on senior faculty compared to low-ranking staff employees. Elsewhere, a records request by the Sacramento Bee revealed that instead of relying on its own communications team, Berkeley hired an outside PR firm to the tune of $400,000 to manage fallout from a series of cuts announced last year. The lengthy article is worth a full read, as the Bee makes a good case that Berkeley’s early termination of the contract was motivated by the paper’s records request  (which took eight months for the campus to fulfill).

Also see Daily Bruin | KQED | DailyCal

2/28 – University of California: Sexual misconduct widespread across 10 campuses (SJMN): Between January 2013 and April 2016, over 100 UC employees were disciplined for sexual misconduct. About one quarter of the total are faculty members. A majority of the cases were the result of staff complaints, while 35 percent stem from student complaints. As the article notes:

UC San Francisco had 26 cases, the most of any UC campus, ranging from a cook offering a co-worker money for sex to a top fertility doctor inappropriately touching nurses and calling them “bitches.” UCLA had 25 cases, including a French professor who wrote over 300 poems professing his love to his graduate assistant, and a cancer researcher who sent sexually explicit jokes to colleagues and had been accused of sexual harassment twice before. UC Davis had 13 cases and UC Irvine had 11 and UC San Diego had 9. UC Berkeley had released records of 19 cases last year.

3/2 – Records reveal discipline inconsistencies in UC sex harassment (SFChronicle): The article argues that high-ranking faculty members have received more tempered punishment for their behavior compared to staff.

3/1 – Editorial: UC’s systemic problem — sexual harassment (SFChronicle): Given the scope of the problem, the paper calls for transparency moving forward when new incidents arise.

3/3 – Layoffs, budget cuts prompted UC Berkeley to pay out $306,000 for PR contract (SacBee): UC Berkeley signed a $419,400 contract for an outside firm to handle news of cuts last year instead of working with the campus’s full time communications team, a move UC President Janet Napolitano was aware of. The revelation is the fruit of a public records request by the Sacramento Bee which the campus took eight months to fulfill. Only about $300,000 was paid out as Berkeley cancelled the contract. The article notes that this move happened at the same time as UC Davis received scrutiny for a similar deal, also broken by the Bee. The article notes Berkeley began the process to cancel their contract the same day that the Bee made its records request to Berkeley. Berkeley denies a connection between the request and the cancellation.

3/2 – U. of California Leader Advises Patience as the Trump Era Dawns (Chronicle): UC President Janet Napolitano affirmed the university’s commitment to students covered by DACA. She also stressed that the system did all it could to allow Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at UC Berkeley before the event was cancelled due to violent protesters. The system’s leader also touched on Title IX, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and President Trump’s singling out of UC Berkeley on Twitter.