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.

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 9/2/16

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.

Dirks to step down + Media Coverage 8/19/16

UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks announced he will resign once a replacement is found. Dirks had earned scrutiny for his handling of sexual harassment by senior campus leaders, a costly fence added around the Chancellor’s residence, the creation of what student media called an “escape hatch” near his office and the alleged misuse of funds in connection to a personal trainer, among other matters.

(A follow-up post on the fallout is in the works)

Dirks’ letter to the campus, worth reading in full, is below:

Dear Colleagues:
I am writing today to say that I have informed President Napolitano of my intention to step down as chancellor once a successor is selected and in place. It has been a great honor to serve as the 10th chancellor of Berkeley, and I am proud of all we have accomplished. Over the summer I have come to the personal decision that the time is right for me to step aside and allow someone else to take up the financial and institutional challenges ahead of us.
I am especially proud of the work we have done to enhance the undergraduate experience at Berkeley, as we have launched curricular and programmatic initiatives in data science and arts and design, and begun to re-evaluate the whole student experience, including residential and extracurricular life as well as our academic structures.
The research done at Berkeley is second to none, and it has been exhilarating to learn about the breadth and depth of the research our faculty conducts across every discipline and field. I have worked with colleagues to develop new forms of support for cross-disciplinary research, new modes of connection between research and innovation outside the university, and new ideas to ensure that Berkeley’s future contributions to knowledge will be even more impressive and important in the years ahead. I am especially excited about the ways in which our partnership with UCSF has expanded in recent years and will provide a foundation for even more robust support for, and activity in, the biomedical sciences.
I have also been pleased to work with colleagues in developing new global initiatives for our university, creating significant alliances for research, new educational partnerships and programs and ideas for new forms of global institutional collaboration.
We have also worked hard to increase and improve philanthropy for Berkeley, a source of funding that will be ever more critical to our continued success as a university in the years ahead. Building on the great success of the “Campaign for Berkeley,” we have posted records in fundraising for the last two years in a row ($462 million and $479 million respectively). Meanwhile we are in the final stages of completing and implementing a new development structure we call Fundraising 2.0, which will enable far better coordination across our many units while more fully leveraging our alumni and donor base. We have also been working to build and strengthen our alumni relations.
During my time at Berkeley we have begun to address growing concerns around sexual assault, violence and harassment on campus, investing significant resources not only in our Title IX office, but in identifying new campus leadership, as well as better organized structures, procedures and standards for prevention, care and advocacy, investigation and adjudication, sanctions and community awareness and resolve.
I have worked to increase the diversity of the senior administration, and consider the challenge of addressing issues of diversity across our administration, our faculty, our staff and our student body, and continuing the work to improve our campus climate for all of constituencies regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or sexual identity as of paramount importance for our community.
I am also proud of what we have done through an earlier task force to ensure that our student athletes have the kind of support they need not only to excel in their chosen sports but in the classroom. In the months ahead, I will work with the second task force on our athletic programs, this one to propose new ways to ensure a sound financial future for the athletic department in the larger context of our budgetary challenges.
Our most critical task now is to ensure a sustainable financial foundation for our university at a time of significantly diminished support from the state. While we have made important progress, substantially reducing our deficit for the coming year and developing a plan to balance the budget over the subsequent two to three years, there remains much work, and many difficult decisions ahead of us. We need fresh approaches and new ideas as Berkeley forges a path to maintain its excellence along with its full commitment to a public mission in the current funding environment.
I pledge my total commitment to ensuring a smooth transition as I leave this post. And I look forward to joining on a full-time basis the distinguished faculty that was my primary reason for moving to Berkeley in the first place.
With gratitude to all for the opportunity of a lifetime,
Fiat Lux,
Nicholas B. Dirks

The university’s press release can be found here. UC President Janet Napolitano’s response can be read here. In part, she wrote, “Today I have accepted the resignation of Nicholas B. Dirks as chancellor of UC Berkeley. I do so with deep appreciation for Chancellor Dirks’s efforts on behalf of this great institution, its students, faculty, staff, alumni and the larger Berkeley community.”

Dirks Headlines

Beyond the typical post mortem, the SF Chronicle reported the Chancellor hired a consulting firm to improve his reputation toward potential donors, among other tasks. The contract has been worth $270,000. Most of the articles covering the resignation are fairly similar, running through Dirks’ controversies and emphasizing the oddity of having two UC chancellors resign in quick succession.

8/17 – UC Berkeley invested in consultants to boost chancellor’s image (SFC): The article highlights the irony of Berkeley’s cost-cutting measures undertaken alongside such a pricey PR sprucing.

8/19 – Campus spends $270,000 to create ‘strategic profile’ for Dirks (DailyCal)

8/16 – UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks announces resignation (SFGate)

8/16 – Nicholas Dirks Resigns as Chancellor of University of California, Berkeley (NYT)

8/17 – Berkeley Chancellor Quits After 3 Years in Office (IHE)

8/18 – ‘We don’t sit around saying ‘woe is me.” Napolitano prepares to fill sudden chancellor vacancies at UC Berkeley, UC Davis (LATimes)

8/17 – University of California faces abrupt leadership shakeups at two prized campuses (WaPo): An interesting tidbit in this one notes Napolitano’s claim that she did not try to force Dirks out.

Other UC news

8/13 – One of Donald Trump’s biggest economic supporters? It’s a UC Irvine economist (OCRegister): Peter Navarro, a Harvard-trained Democrat, is the only academic on Trump’s council of economic advisers. While Navarro has never met or spoken with Trump, they’ve been in touch since before the election, when the developer contributed a blurb to Navarro’s documentary “Death by China.”

8/1 – Editorial: Valley deserves a voice among UC regents (ModBee): A bit old, but worth a read. The editorial board argues UC Board of Regents needs to replace its departing San Joaquin Valley member, Fred Ruiz, with someone else from the valley. While coastal California has some of the nation’s best K-12 school and higher education institutions, the editorial notes the valley is underserved on both ends.