Media coverage of UC continued to focus on free speech as the university system launched a DC-based center to study the First Amendment and the Daily Cal took heat for a cartoon many called anti-semitic. In an interview with the LA Times, UC President Janet Napolitano explained the thinking behind the center, saying, ““The students themselves are raising questions about free speech and does it apply to homophobic speech, does it apply to racist speech? We have to consider the student concerns but return to basic principles about what free speech means and how do we better educate students about the extent of the 1st Amendment.” The advisory board of the National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement (to see the center’s website, click here) includes former US Senator Barbara Boxer, conservative columnist George Will and Tamara Keith, NPR’s white house correspondent, among others.
In related news, the Daily Cal removed from its website and apologized for a cartoon that depicted retired Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz. The cartoon reportedly intended to depict the hypocrisy Israel-supporters display toward Palestine. In a letter to the editor, Chancellor Christ asked, “Are you aware that its anti-Semitic imagery connects directly to the centuries-old ‘blood libel’ that falsely accused Jews of engaging in ritual murder?” The far-right website Breitbart called the cartoon Nazi-themed, a claim echoed by Dershowitz.
In other news, the melodrama within the Berkeley College Republicans continued to unspool in reporting by the San Jose Mercury News. Meanwhile, an internal audit found Berkeley is not in compliance with its $15 minimum wage. We also revisit a Daily Cal piece from last week that takes a deep dive on Cal Athletic’s debt, the largest burden of any American university athletics department.
Continuing this blog’s focus on the debate over free speech, five pieces on the topic are highlighted, including commentary from Yale Law Professor Robert Post, part of a back and forth debate with Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky. In the piece, Post argues, “Underlying Chemerinsky’s [claim that free speech must be protected vigorously on campus] is the assumption that speech within the university (and outside the classroom) is the same as in the public sphere. But the root and fiber of the university is not equivalent to the public sphere. ” A piece in the New Yorker explored the controversy stemming from an invitation Bard College extended for a conference at its Hannah Arendt Center to a member of Germany’s far-right AfD party (which recently won seats in the Bundestag). Other pieces touch on the First Amendment in the digital age and a congressional hearing on campus speech.
Free Speech Center & a Cartoon
10/26 – UC, roiled by 1st Amendment controversies, to launch national free speech center (LATimes): The article frames the center’s launch as a response to political clashes at and around UC Berkeley, though the piece notes such controversies are happening across the country, though Berkeley has become a symbol of the times.
10/26 – University of California to open free speech center in Washington DC (SFGate): The center will be funded with donations and fundraising.
10/27 – Editorial: University of California’s commitment to free speech is badly needed (SDUT): The paper’s editorial board, often critical of Napolitano, praises UC’s president for her leadership on free speech.
10/27 – University of California launches First Amendment center to study free speech (Breitbart): The far-right publication’s coverage of the launch is fairly straightforward, though the organization leads its post with an image of a fire from Milo Yiannopoulos’s first aborted campus appearance.
10/26 – Cal’s student newspaper apologizes for cartoon after backlash (SFChronicle): The paper’s Editor-in-Chief wrote, “The criticism we have received reaffirms for us a need for a more critical editing eye, and a stronger understanding of the violent history and contemporary manifestations of anti-Semitism. We appreciate those who have reached out offering to help us better our understanding of these issues. We will be taking them up on the offer.”
10/29 – UC Berkeley Paper Apologizes For Anti-Semitic Cartoon (Breitbart): The article quotes Dershowitz as saying the cartoon was “a hard Left neo-Nazi cartoon,” thus continuing a trend of the right turning the criticism’s of the left back on the left.
10/28 – Bitter feud divides Berkeley College Republicans as the club’s future hangs in the balance (SJMN): According to the piece, “In the past, the student club was a quiet group of Ronald Reagan admirers who talked about issues such as free trade. In the last year or so, however, a vocal contingent of members have sent the club lurching to the right and into the spotlight.”
10/25 – UC Berkeley not in compliance with 2015 fair wage plan, internal audit finds (DailyCal): The issue was not limited to Berkeley, but appears to be a problem across the UC system.
10/19 – ‘An impossible situation’: Cal Athletics gets $20M bailout from chancellor’s office (DailyCal): Cal Athletics will receive $20 million from the chancellor’s office, which pushes the total amount of bailout funding to $100 million since 2010. According to the piece:
According to a department financial report, Cal Athletics expects to pay about $18 million annually in interest until 2032, when the principal of the debt kicks in. Payments will then jump to more than $25 million per year and gradually inch close to $40 million. For reference, the total revenue for Cal Athletics in the 2016 fiscal year was about $86 million.
In total, Cal Athletics holds more than $400 million in debt, the most of any athletic department in the country, almost entirely from the renovation and seismic retrofitting of the stadium and construction of its athletics complex. Bloomberg News has called the debt “crippling.” Deadspin ran a piece this summer with the headline, “Cal Is Fucked Because Of Its Stupid Stadium Deal.”
10/25 – Op-Ed: There is no 1st Amendment right to speak on a college campus (Vox): To drive home his point, Post shares the following example, “To give a simple example, students are free to march with candles chanting, “No means yes, yes means anal,” in a park. The First Amendment gives them the right to do so. But no sane university would tolerate a student group marching through its campus shouting this ugly slogan (as some male students once did at Yale). ”
10/26 – Column: Does the Far Right Have a Place at Academic Conferences? (NewYorker): The piece argues that making room in academia for far-right thinking could be dangerous.
10/27 – Op-Ed: How Twitter Killed the First Amendment (NYT): The author, a professor of law at Columbia, considers the inadequacy of the First Amendment for our Internet age.
10/27 – Congress Rallies Around Campus Free Speech (IHE): The article covers a congressional hearing that touched on the Charles Murray fiasco at Middlebury college.
10/29 – Blog Post: The Problem with “Taking Offense” (Academe): The post considers the way framing student activism as a matter of “being offended” undersells the legitimate complaints of students.