Media Coverage 6/12/17

Berkeley’s Task Force on Intercollegiate Athletics released a report this past week which highlighted the immense financial shadow the university’s stadium casts over the entire campus. As a Dead Spin headline succinctly and colorfully noted, “Cal Is Fucked Because Of Its Stupid Stadium Deal.” The over $400 million debt tied to seismic retrofitting of Memorial Stadium and the creation of a new gym could continue to cost the university well into the next century. Interest on Cal Athletics’ debt will exceed income for the foreseeable future, the report notes. Media accounts focused on the task force’s failure to reach a consensus on cutting any specific sports programs, a move a San Jose Mercury News columnist mocked as indecisive. Instead, the task force recommends cutting administrative costs and conducting an external review of Cal Athletics.

In other news, an article in the San Francisco Chronicle asked whether recent UC regents appointments violate the law. According to the state constitution, a 12-member advisory committee is supposed to be consulted by the governor before appointments are made. In recent memory, the advisory committee has been inactive and members are simply informed who will be appointed, the paper reports. The article also raises questions as to whether the composition of the regents reflects the state’s diversity. Following a 1974 amendment, the state constitution reads regents should be “broadly reflective of the economic, cultural, and social diversity of the state, including ethnic minorities and women.”

The state’s revised budget should be finalized by June 15. As of the weekend, the budget was poised to directly fund UCOP, a move recommended by the recent state audit which was very critical of the office led by UC President Janet Napolitano. In the past, UCOP was funded through assessing fees on each UC campus. The funding change is intended to give the legislature more control over UCOP. Meanwhile, the future of a middle class scholarship program is up in the air, though a report on Thursday suggested the program, which Gov. Brown proposed to be scrapped, will survive.

Regents

6/10 – Are governors ignoring law when appointing UC regents? (SFChronicle): The article notes the tony makeup of the regents:

Of the 18 appointed regents, including the four just named, half are financiers, corporate executives, investors, real-estate developers or corporate attorneys. Three are former politicians. One is Brown’s senior policy adviser, and another — a former finance expert at UC — is chief financial officer at a company that supplies technology to a private college in San Francisco. The others are an eye doctor, a Sacramento lobbyist, a nonprofit policy director, and the chancellor of the California Community College system.

Cal Athletics

6/7 – Cal Is Fucked Because Of Its Stupid Stadium Deal (DeadSpin):  As the article notes, Cal’s debt may last into 2113, at which point, statistically speaking, it’s not too unlikely the “big one” will have struck, potentially destroying the stadium.

6/5 – No Cal sports cut yet, athletics task force says (DailyCal): The student newspaper notes that, despite the university’s claims that such debt is a problem for universities across the country, Cal leads the nation with the greatest debt.

6/6 – Column: On Cal’s task force, the debt vise, squandered opportunities, donor truth and the future of the athletic department (SJMN): The article is critical of the task force for failing to take a stand on cuts. It begins with the memorable lede: “The inspiring, frustrating, complicated, money-losing, opportunity-creating, labyrinthine, heart-breaking, title-winning 30-sport behemoth that is the Cal athletic program has claimed another task force, outwitted more sharp minds and remained an unsolvable puzzle at a university that has won 22 Nobel Prizes.”

6/5 – UC regents hires law firm to investigate central office’s handling of state audit (SJMN): The Regents hired Former California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno to conduct an investigation into whether UCOP interfered with the state’s recent audit. 

Read a statement from Regents Chair Monica Lozano here.

Budget

6/8 – California budget panel approves spending plan as talks with Brown continue (SacBee): According to the article:

Acting on the findings of a recent state audit castigating UC’s leadership, meanwhile, Thursday’s agreement will pay for the University of California Office of the President out of the general fund. The $296.4 million will replace assessments the office now collects on individual campuses, a situation that the Bureau of State Audits found had contributed to the university’s need fr increase tuition.

6/8 – Partial California Budget Deal Reached, But Sticking Points Remain (CapRadio): Unlike below, this more recent article notes the middle-class scholarship program may be spared.

6/6 – How should California spend $180 billion-plus? Here’s what is under negotiation in Sacramento (LATimes): The article notes uncertainty around Gov. Brown’s plans to cut out a middle-class scholarship program.

Media Coverage 5/22/17

The flood of news concerning the UCOP audit slowed to a trickle this week, though the repercussions of an earlier audit made news. The Regents approved a cap on nonresident undergraduate enrollment, a policy change spurred by a 2016 audit that found in-state students were disadvantaged in the admissions process as UC sought the financial benefits of out-state-students. System-wide, UC’s undergraduate student body is about 16.5 percent nonresident. The cap will allow the proportion to grow to 18 percent at five campuses currently below that threshold. Four campuses—Berkeley, UCLA, San Diego and Irvine—exceed that limit. Instead of being forced to cut down on the proportion of nonresident students, these campuses will be capped at their current level. The Regents considered an even more lax plan, but withdrew it from consideration after lawmakers expressed exasperation, citing constituents with high-achieving high schoolers who had been denied admission to the state’s premier higher education system. As part of a deal with Gov. Brown, the system should now receive an additional $18.5 million in funding, money that will be used to fund the enrollment of additional resident undergrads, according to the Sacramento Bee.

News about the more recent UCOP audit focused on a Regents meeting which protestors briefly shutdown. The protestors were there to criticize UCOP for what the audit characterized as excessive compensation. The Regents voiced their support for President Napolitano at the meeting, pushing back against some aspects of the auditor’s characterization of UCOP’s budgeting practices. In an op-ed, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-South Gate) urged the Regents to more closely monitor UCOP.

In other news, Gov. Brown’s May budget revision makes the receipt of $50 million contingent on three conditions:

  1. State Auditor Recommendations: In an April 2017 report, the State Auditor identified a number of problems with the UC Office of the President (UCOP), including the office’s staffing size and costs, spending on systemwide programs, and overall budget. The Auditor’s report included dozens of recommendations designed to enhance transparency, operational performance, and state oversight. The Auditor called for these recommendations to be implemented over a three-year period (between April 2018 and April 2020). The May Revision would link budget-year funding with UC’s implementation of the April 2018 recommendations.
  2. Transfer Enrollment: The May Revision also expects all but two campuses (Merced and San Francisco) to enroll at least one new transfer student for every two new freshman students for the 2018-19 academic year. That is, at least one-third of each campus’s new resident undergraduate enrollment would need to be transfer students. This target is intended to align with policies called for in the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education. In 2015-16, 31 percent of UC’s incoming resident undergraduates were transfer students.
  3. Activity-Based Costing:  The May Revision’s final condition is for UC to pilot activity-based costing at three campuses. The purpose of activity-based costing is to identify program- and course-level costs of providing instruction and other services to students. Currently, one pilot is underway at the Riverside campus, and two campuses (Merced and Davis) have completed scoping studies for pilot programs

The Legislature is debating the budget, which has a June 15 deadline for passage.

Non-Residents

5/18 – UC pulls back welcome mat for nonresident students with first enrollment cap (SacBee): The article notes that nonresident enrollment increased rapidly during the recession, when the UC system saw its budget sharply cut. However, as the budget has recovered, nonresident enrollment has not slowed. Two Regents voted against the measure, with at least one casting their vote to signal support for more out-of-state students and the diversity they bring.

5/19 – UC leaders to cap nonresident student enrollment in 2018 (SFGate): The article notes UC enrolls more resident students than peer public universities.

UCOP

5/18 – UC regents defend Napolitano, thank auditor for probe (SFGate): The Regents pushed back on the auditor’s characterization of funds being hidden.

5/17 – UC students protest hidden funds, shut down regents meeting (SFGate): Protestors briefly shut down the Regents meeting, calling out President Napolitano for the perceived excesses of her office.

5/17 – UC regents meeting disrupted by protests over state audit finding of undisclosed surplus (LATimes): “Shame on you, Janet Napolitano. Shame on you, UCOP,” one student said at the meeting.

5/16 – Op-Ed: Speaker Rendon: In wake of audit, UC Regents need to wake up, better oversee President Napolitano and roll back tuition hike (SJMN): In his op-ed, Rendon wrote:

Regents must also demand transparency. We must receive clear, quality information and timely answers to our questions. That’s the only way to make informed budget, personnel and policy decisions.

I am frustrated with what Napolitano’s office has communicated and not communicated to the State Auditor, the public and the students. I will be ready with tough questions at the meeting. Legislators have to hold the Regents accountable, and the Regents have to hold the President accountable. That is what will bring lasting change.

Budget Revision

5/15 – State of California: LAO Budget Revision Analysis (LAO): The UC information is on page 26 of the report.

The Day After: Calm protests, a young scholar arrested

A massive police presence in Berkeley encountered two opposing but peaceful protest camps Thursday. Following the cancellation of a speech by Ann Coulter, authorities feared a repeat of the violent clashes between right- and left-wing protestors that have plagued downtown Berkeley in recent weeks. One of the points of contention is who, exactly, cancelled the appearance.

Student groups invited Coulter to speak on Thursday, but the university asked for Coulter to come at another date so that student safety could be protected. Coulter refused, and called the rescheduling an assault on free speech. A student Republican group who helped invite Coulter also took up this framing. The university emphasized its embrace of free speech while at the same time noting it’s deep consideration for student safety.

SF Gate’s take on the protests can be read here: “Calm prevails in Berkeley after cops gear up in wake of Coulter cancellation”

Even though Coulter said she would not appear Thursday despite earlier indicating she would speak on Sproul Plaza, opposing protestors stated their intent to appear, with threats of violence circulated online. Those threats went unfulfilled, though the protest by the right-wing activists included Islamophobic and racist rhetoric.

Despite the peaceful protests, police did make arrests. One Cal student, Jorge-David Mancillas, was arrested for allegedly possessing a weapon. Mancillas is a stand-out student on campus, according to the Daily Cal, and was accepted into numerous prestigious PhD programs in sociology. Students protested his arrest Thursday afternoon claiming he was racially profiled.

 

2:30pm Protest Update

A multi-agency police response in Berkeley has stood watch over largely peaceful protestors, according to media reports. Right-wing protestors have mostly gathered at Civic Center Park, across from Berkeley high. Left-wing protestors have stuck to campus, according to reports, where a large police presence is visible.

According to the Daily Cal, two arrests were made by 1 pm. The student newspaper reports:

As of 1 p.m., UCPD had made two protest-related arrests. One individual was arrested on suspicion of carrying a knife on campus, while the other was arrested and charged with wearing a mask and providing false identification to a police officer.

City and university administrators had feared a violent clash even after Ann Coulter announced she would not speak on campus. In recent weeks, violent clashes between those on the far extremes of the political spectrum erupted in downtown Berkeley. In February, a riot on campus resulted in the cancellation of a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos, also disrupting a mass of students who had protested peacefully.

Based on coverage from the Daily Cal’s twitter feed (a good source of on-going coverage), some right-wing protestor have framed their protest as one in favor of free speech and dialogue while other right-wing protestors have made violent threats and outlandish claims directed at former President Barack Obama.

For more coverage, see SF Gate.

4/26/17 Coulter Update

Ann Coulter announced she will not speak on campus tomorrow after two conservative groups which had backed her appearance withdrew their support. Coulter’s appearance seemed certain to induce a violent clash between those on the far extremes of the political spectrum given bloody confrontations in downtown Berkeley in recent weeks and the riot which resulted in the cancellation of a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos in February.

Coulter and conservative groups have repeatedly tried to frame the controversy as an assault on free speech, while Berkeley officials have emphasized their willingness to have Coulter speak, but only under conditions where student safety could be ensured. Coulter refused the university’s invitation to speak on another date.

According to the New York Times:

Late on Tuesday, the conservative group that was helping Ms. Coulter in her legal efforts to force Berkeley to host her, Young America’s Foundation, said it could no longer participate. ‘Young America’s Foundation will not jeopardize the safety of its staff or students,’ the group said.

The article notes that the Berkeley College Republicans, which initially invited Coulter to campus along with a nonpartisan student group, also withdrew its support. Both the College Republicans and Young America’s Foundation have sued the university, claiming it treats left- and right-wing speakers differently.

Before news broke of Coulter’s decision to cancel her appearance, Chancellor Dirks sent an email to the campus community. In the message, he stressed the campus’s commitment to free speech and safety, and emphasized how the university’s desire to reschedule Coulter’s appearance was an effort to balance the competing commitments.

You can read the full letter below:

To the Members of the Berkeley Campus Community,

As I write this, I am aware of the uncertainty surrounding Ann Coulter’s stated intention to come to campus tomorrow afternoon.  We will be sending out a separate message later today with updated information about safety arrangements, as well as our hopes and expectations regarding how members of our campus community should conduct themselves.  For now, I want to share my thoughts about all that has led up to the current situation in which we find ourselves.

This University has two non-negotiable commitments, one to Free Speech, the other to the safety of our campus community members, their guests, and the public. In that context, we cannot ignore or deny what is a new reality.  Groups and individuals from the extreme ends of the political spectrum have made clear their readiness and intention to utilize violent tactics in support or in protest of certain speakers at UC Berkeley. In early February, a speaker’s presence on campus ignited violent conflict and significant damage to campus property. In March, political violence erupted on the streets of Berkeley.  In April opposing groups again violently clashed on the edge of our campus. While some seem inclined to use these events and circumstances to draw attention to themselves, we remain focused on the needs, rights, and interests of our students and our community. We cannot wish away or pretend that these threats do not exist.

The strategies necessary to address these evolving threats are also evolving, but the simplistic view of some – that our police department can simply step in and stop violent confrontations whenever they occur – ignores reality.  Protecting public safety in these circumstances requires a multifaceted approach.  This approach must take into account the use of “time, place, and manner” guidelines, devised according to the specific threats presented.  Because threats or strategic concerns may differ, so must our approach.  In all cases, however, we only seek to ensure the successful staging of free speech rights; we make no effort to control or restrict the content of expression, regardless of differing political views.

This is a University, not a battlefield. We must make every effort to hold events at a time and location that maximizes the chances that First Amendment rights can be successfully exercised and that community members can be protected. While our commitment to freedom of speech and expression remains absolute, we have an obligation to heed our police department’s assessment of how best to hold safe and successful events.

In relation to the invitation made by a student group for Ann Coulter to speak at Berkeley this week, we have therefore to take seriously the intelligence UCPD has regarding threats of violence that could endanger our students, our community, and perhaps even Ms Coulter herself. It is specific, significant, and real.  Yet, despite those threats we have, and will remain ready, to welcome her to campus, and assume the risks, challenges, and expenses that will attend her visit.  That is demanded by our commitment to Free Speech.  What we will not do is allow our students, other members of the campus community, and the public to be needlessly endangered by permitting an event to be held in a venue that our police force does not believe to be protectable.  If UCPD believes there is a significant security threat attendant to a particular event, we cannot allow it to be held in a venue with a limited number of exits; in a hall that cannot be cordoned off; in an auditorium with floor to ceiling glass; in any space that does not meet basic safety criteria established by UCPD.  This is the sole reason we could not accommodate Ms. Coulter on April 27th, and the very reason we offered her alternative dates in early May and September, when venues that satisfy safety requirements are available.

Contrary to some press reports and circulating narratives, the UC Berkeley administration did not cancel the Coulter event and has never prohibited Ms. Coulter from coming on campus.  Instead, we received a request to provide a venue on one single day, chosen unilaterally by a student group without any prior consultation with campus administration or law enforcement.  After substantial evaluation and planning by our law enforcement professionals, we were forced to inform the group that, in light of specific and serious security threats that UCPD’s intelligence had identified, there was no campus venue available at a time on that date where the event could be held safely and without disruption.  We offered an alternative date for the event (which was rejected) and offered to work with the group to find dates in the future when the event could occur. Throughout this process our effort has been to support our students’ desire to hold their event safely and successfully. 

Sadly and unfortunately, concern for student safety seems to be in short supply in certain quarters. We believe that once law enforcement professionals determine there are security risks attendant to a particular event, speakers need to focus on what they actually want to achieve. If it is to speak to a large audience, to make a case for their positions, to engage students in discourse, we stand ready to make that work on any date when a protectable venue is available. If, on the other hand, the objective is stir up conflict and violence without regard for the safety, rights, and interests of others in order to advance personal interests we cannot abandon our commitment to the safety of our community members.

We will work cooperatively with members of our campus community who would sponsor events to ensure that those events can occur and that the campus can actually benefit from the dialogue their invited speakers might generate. To this end, we are working to clarify our policies and practices so that all know what is expected and how sponsors can best engage us to facilitate the success of their planned events. We trust that cooperation and good will among the members of our own community can help us jointly defend our campus against the threats to both speech and safety currently being posed by outside groups.

Sincerely,

Nick Dirks
Chancellor

 

 

Media Coverage 1/27/17

UC Regents approved a tuition increase, campus leaders responded to conservative political figures at home and in DC and the health of UC President Napolitano became an issue.

UC News

1/26 – UC regents approve first tuition increase after six-year freeze; some students ‘infuriated’ (LATimes): Regents approved the first tuition hike since the system’s freeze agreement with Gov. Brown Expired. The paper characterizes the hike as:

Under the new budget, tuition will rise to $11,502 for the 2017-18 school year — a $282 increase. The student services fee will increase by $54 to $1,128.

Nonresident undergraduates will see a total increase of $1,688. They will pay the same higher base tuition and student fees as well as 5% more in supplemental tuition, which will rise $1,332, from $26,682 to $28,014 next year.

Financial aid will cover the increases for two-thirds of the university system’s roughly 175,500 California resident undergraduates.

1/24 – Cal football aide under fire since player death is let go (SFChron): The assistant football coach who designed a workout that led to the death of a student and a subsequent $4.75 million settlement is no longer with Cal.

1/25 – Want to know what the UC probe of Katehi cost? So do we. (SacBee): UC has withheld a number of public records requests made by the Bee, which investigated allegations of corruption by former UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi.

1/20 – It’s official: Cal athletics bleeding cash at astounding rate (SJMN): Cal’s atheltic department lost $21.7 million in FY 2016. The deficit is a result of interest payments on construction debt.

1/22 – Column: Napolitano’s cancer treatment took UC regents by surprise (SFChron): Matier & Ross note news of UC President Napolitano’s recent cancer treatment came as a surprise to regents. Napolitano is a breast cancer survivor, receiving treatment for the disease in 2000.

1/24 – California’s public universities need more stable financing, report declares (EdSource): The SF-based College Futures Foundation wrote an apparently unoriginal report noting UC and CSU need more reliable funding from the state.

1/29 – UC statement on President Trump’s executive order (UCOP): UCOP issued a statement criticizing President Trump’s executive action on immigration.

1/27 – Campus task force issues report on new student housing (UCB): In what could be characterized as “stating the obvious,” A Berkeley task force concluded more student housing is needed for both undergrads and grad students in a “draft” report

1/26 – People’s Park among targeted sites for UC Berkeley student housing (DailyCal): Article notes that the draft housing report identifies People’s Park as one possible site for housing. The park is famous as a site of student protest, including one in 1969 in which police shot and killed a student named James Rector.

1/26 – UC Berkeley chancellor affirms Milo Yiannopoulos’ right to speak on campus (DailyCal): Chancellor Dirks affirmed the universities decision to allow the conservative provocateur to speak on campus, stressing the university’s commitment to free speech.

1/27 – Op-Ed: The counterargument to Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley (DailyCal): Sociology graduate students Luis Tenorio and Miranda Smith argue that Chancellor Dirks mis-categorized Yiannopoulos’ speech as not hate speech.

Media Coverage 11/04/16

UC news this past week was dominated by reports of disgusting behavior by Regent Norman Pattiz, chairman of the Courtside Entertainment Group.

UC News

11/2 – UC regent apologizes for ‘inappropriate’ comments about women’s breasts (LATimes): Pattiz apologized for asking to hold the breasts of a  woman taping a bra commercial at Pattiz’s company. UC did not issue a statement. The Times dug up other accusations of inappropriate workplace harassment from Pattiz.

More: DailyCal | SFGate

11/3 – After pink slips, UCSF tech workers train their foreign replacements (SJMN): A $50 million outsourcing deal with an Indian company has resulted in 80 tech workers losing their jobs. UCSF says it will save $30 million over five years. U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren asked Napolitano to reverse the plan and questioned the legality of using H-1B visas to bring in some Indian workers on-site. Questions about patient data privacy have also been raised.

10/31- Op-Ed: The University Of California’s Censor In Sheep’s Clothing (Forbes): A not very thoughtful critique of Napolitano’s recent op-ed in the Boston Globe. Essentially, the author worries trigger warnings and safe spaces harm free speech. He dismisses concerns about inclusion.

10/30 – Faculty, staff voice expectations for next UC Berkeley chancellor at listening sessions (DailyCal): A very nice photograph is attached to this story about a recent “listening session.” The article notes the back-and-forth between those who wish for a shortlist to be made public and those who feel such a move would harm the process.

11/2 – Anti-immigrant graffiti found at UC San Diego (SDUT): The election is Tuesday.

Elsewhere

11/2 – Virginia colleges told to brace for 7.5 percent cuts (RichmondTD): Virginia, home to two of the nation’s great public universities, has told its higher ed system to prepare for cuts. 

11/4 – Historic Fine for Penn State (IHE): The US Dept. of Education will fine PSU $2.4 million for failing to disclose crimes relating to its infamous child molestation scandal.