Media Coverage 9/5/17

Media coverage of last week’s “anti-Marxist” protest and counter-protest in Berkeley was predictably all over the place, the result of no one participant or media organization being able to witness every sign, shove or provocation. Occurring so recently after the tragedy in Charlottesville, the scene was described as comparatively peaceful, though outlets emphasized the violent tactics of Antifa protestors. While the 4,000-strong crowd was described as mostly peaceful and right wing protesters scarce, accounts focused on the behavior of roughly 100 counter-protesters lumped under the Antifa banner.

In a piece of commentary in The New Yorker, Jelani Cobb argued the violence propagated by Antifa helps Trump’s movement. In his telling, the peaceful counter-protest by anti-racists was “fractured the moment that contingents identified as anarchists and Antifa radicals slipped into the crowd and began attacking right-wing protesters who had assembled there under the banner of free speech.”

Cobb goes so far as to argue that the actions of Antifa at the Berkeley protest validate Trump’s now infamous “many sides” comment in reference to Charlottesville. According to the writer:

But the images out of Berkeley—outnumbered right-wing protesters being pepper-sprayed by counter-demonstrators, one person lying on the ground while a black-clad group punched his face and torso—will be held up by many on the right as evidence that Trump was correct about the blame falling on “many sides.”

In their coverage, The Guardian noted the counter-protestors were largely peaceful, but also emphasized that Antifa members chased and pepper sprayed an alt-right organizer. Reporting by Mother Jones included footage of Antifa members jostling reporters. Meanwhile, a headline in the LA Times read “Violence by far-left protesters in Berkeley sparks alarm.” Local blog Berkeleyside placed more attention on the activity of peaceful protestors than other outlets, saying in an aside, “the moments of tension, and some sporadic violent clashes, were largely perpetrated by 100 or so anti-fascists, masked and clad in black, who swept into the park mid-afternoon en masse.”

A group of faith leaders wrote an op-ed in The New York Times criticizing the media for “ignoring the thousands who marched and protested peacefully” in Berkeley and other recent anti-racist actions. The piece suggests that violence should not be dismissed out-of-hand, noting its role in the civil rights movement, thought their claim is hedged behind the framing of self-defense.

Protests

8/29 – The Antifa Protests Are Helping Donald Trump (NewYorker): Cobb notes Antifa are not as abhorrent as racists, but nonetheless adds, “there is no escaping the fact that the elements that lashed out in Berkeley were both morally wrong and politically vacuous. ”

8/28 – After melees, Berkeley mayor asks Cal to cancel right-wing Free Speech Week (SFChronicle): Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin asked the campus to block a series of talks organized by a conservative student group that are set to include Milo Yiannopoulos. Arreguin argues the talks are likely to result in violence.

8/27 – Berkeley pro-Trump rally cancelled but tensions still flare between protesters (The Guardian): The article quotes a protestor who defended the Ohio man who killed a counter-protestor in Charlottesville.

8/28 – Violence by far-left protesters in Berkeley sparks alarm (LATimes): The article includes footage of Antifa members beating protestors.

8/27 – Live Updates: thousands come out against racism; far right a no-show (Berkeleyside): The article provides a sequential series of reports from the scene.

8/28 – In Berkeley, community comes out in force against hate, racism (Berkeleyside): The blog’s day-after summation of the event emphasizes that the vast majority of the 4,000 who gathered were peaceful counter-protestors.

9/1 – Op-Ed: Waiting for a Perfect Protest? (NYT): The authors note, “In spite of extensive training in nonviolent protest and civil disobedience, individuals and factions within the larger movement engaged in violent skirmishes, and many insisted on their right to physically defend themselves even while they proclaimed nonviolence as an ideal….”

9/1 – UC President Janet Napolitano wades into campus free speech debate (SFGate): Napolitano defends Christs’ decision to support the right of controversial speakers to appear on campus.

Other News

9/1 – Protest During Poli-Sci Meeting (InsideHigherEd): Silent protestors critiszied an academic presentation by Berkeley’s Emanuel S. Heller Professor of Law John Yoo. The protestors called out Yoo’s defense of torture. In 2003, while a member of the Bush administration, Yoo authored the so-called torture memos, which argued “enhanced interrogation” is legal.

8/29 – California Today: Courting First-Generation Students at U.C. (NYT): The article highlights the UC system’s efforts to support first-generation students. About 42 percent of the system’s undergraduate students are first-generation, though at Berkeley the figure is 28 percent.

8/31 – UC President Janet Napolitano blasts idea of ending DACA (SJMN): Napolitano took a strong defense of DACA, which President Trump has signaled he intends to end following a six-month delay.

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Media Coverage 8/28/17

Berkeley Protest on Aug. 27

As of early evening Sunday, press reports indicate clashes between right-wing protestors and counter-protesters in downtown Berkeley turned violent, with police using tear gas to disperse the crowds. Those on the right claim they gathered to promote free speech and counter what they perceive to be the spread of Marxism in the US. Counter protestors have organized around a desire to reject what they argue is a right-wing movement centered around racism. Early reports suggest violence surged when antifa protestors jumped a barrier separating the two sides. A full report on media coverage from the protest will be included in next week’s summary.

More audits, Christ center stage, and the right-wing’s fall plans

A state audit deeply critical of UC’s payroll system was released Thursday. The report highlights not only that costs have trebled beyond projections to nearly $1 billion, but that the time to completion has been extended by five years. UC Path was intended to upgrade disparate HR systems across the system’s campuses and save money by eliminating the need for duplicate positions, but the audit says such savings “will not materialize.”

A few days earlier, the state auditor released another report that found UC failed to follow its policies regarding replacing workers with cheaper contract employees. Of 31 contracts the audit reviewed, two were found to violate rules requiring the system to provide justification for any contracts that will displace existing university employees.

The week before the two audits brought negative attention to UC, back-to-school coverage of Berkeley cheered the campus’s new leader, Carol Christ. The San Francisco Chronicle focused on the financial challenges facing Christ and the recently announced plan to reduce Berkeley’s $110 million deficit. The article notes Christ’s long tenure at the campus offers its advantages: “Many faculty appreciate that, and say she’s an insider who understands UC Berkeley’s culture and politics far better than the outsiders who preceded her.” However, the article foreshadows what may be a controversial decision to “help athletics pay the seismic retrofit portion of its stadium debt.”

In its take on Christ, the Mercury-News emphasized her status as the first woman to lead the campus, one rocked by a string of recent sexual harassment scandals. A profile in the LA Times painted a flattering portrait of Christ greeting newly-arrived freshman as they moved into Cal. The article notes her myriad professional achievements but goes on to add, “But it is her personable style, her penchant to listen and learn, and her natural instinct to connect that draw people in. Those qualities have helped stir new optimism and excitement on a campus battered by financial woesfree speech controversiessexual harassment scandals and a leadership crisis under her predecessor.” In an interview with Times Higher Education, Christ discussed the campus’s financial challenges and expressed pessimism that state funding will ever return to its historic norm.

Meanwhile, while plans to bring right-wing provocateurs Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter back to campus have circulated for months, the details remain murky, according to the Chronicle of Higher Ed. The student group reportedly behind the invitation, Berkeley Patriot, may also be attempting to bring Breitbart editor and former Trump administration official Stephen Bannon to Berkeley. In an editorial ahead of Sunday’s protests, the Daily Cal criticized campus and city leaders for urging counter-protesters to stay away from the right-wing rally in downtown Berkeley. The editorial cites the recent right-wing protest in Boston which was peacefully drowned out by a sizable counter-protest.

Meanwhile, as happens annually, UC’s salary information was made public. Two former coaches earned nearly $3 million. On a happier note, UC President Janet Napolitano published an op-ed touting the system’s welcoming of 30,000 first-generation incoming students. Beyond urging other universities to reach out to first-generation students, she notes policies UC has implemented to attract and retain such students.

Audit

8/22 – New UC audit raises more questions about Office of the President (SJMN): The article on the contract audit notes a lawsuit is in the works related to the violation of protocol.

8/24 – UC’s new payroll system will cost at least $200 million more than expected (LATimes): The article notes, “As she did in that stinging audit earlier this year, (State Auditor Elaine) Howle on Thursday accused the president’s office of leaving the UC Board of Regents in the dark on the problems.”

8/24 – UC ripped again in latest audit that finds bungling of payroll upgrade (SFGate): The article notes Napolitano pointed out she arrived two years after UC Path was initiated.

8/22 – University of California system didn’t follow its own contracting rules, state audit finds (LATimes): A UC spokesperson, noting that only a few contracts reviewed violated the rules, said the contracts “generally adhered to the Office of the President’s contracting policy.”

For a copy of the full UC Path audit, click here. For a copy of the contract audit, click here.

The Right Returns

8/24 – Details on Berkeley Free-Speech Event Are Hazy, but Campus Readies for Another Fight (Chronicle): Students involved in Berkeley Patriot refused to confirm details to the paper.

8/22 – When white supremacists flood the city, Berkeley should not back down (DailyCal): The student paper argues:

“But recent events show how a bloodbath can be avoided, and it’s not by staying away. In Boston, one week after Charlottesville, tens of thousands of counter-protesters drowned out the planned alt-right rally (dubbed a “free speech” protest, which nobody’s buying). And by 1 p.m., rally attendees had slunk away before they even made the speeches they had planned, and the Washington Post reported that no one was injured.”

Carol Christ Profiles

8/15 – New UC Berkeley leader takes over as school seeks creative money sources (SFChronicle): BFA Chair Michael Burawoy is quoted as saying, “She’s been very impressive. She is so prepared to talk with everybody.”

8/15 – Meet UC Berkeley’s groundbreaking new chancellor (SJMN): The article emphasizes Christ’s long tenure at Berkeley and provides a good overview of her career and recent campus controversies.

8/18 – UC Berkeley’s new chancellor brings optimism — and a world record — to an embattled campus (LATimes): The article says Christ is planning “open hours for students, community-building events, a new blog and visits to students, staff and faculty.”

8/19 – Berkeley chancellor to focus on funding and rebuilding community (TimesHigherEducation): Christ told the website, ““I will certainly do everything I can to advocate that state funding stays stable. [But] understanding the state budget in the way that I do, I don’t think it’s likely it’s going to go back to its former levels when it was much higher.”

8/18 – UC Berkeley wants students to know it’s OK to fail (SJMN): Recognizing how many students may challenged for the first time at Cal, the campus is doing what it can to help students face and grow from setbacks.

Other News

8/21 – Here are the 5 highest-paid UC Berkeley employees last year (DailyCal): Berkeley’s former mens basketball and football coaches led the list.

8/23 – Op-Ed: How UC is Shaping the Next Generation with First Generation (HuffPo): The article notes ways UC has offered targeted support to first-generation students, including special housing at UCLA.

Campuses & the Right-Wing

In light of the tragic events in Charlottesville, this report compiles media coverage and commentary on higher education and the alt-right. The report focuses on issues of free speech raised by the alt-right, advice for how campuses should respond to provocative right-wing speakers, coverage of planned right-wing appearances in Berkeley and the greater Bay Area, and relevant statements by and interviews with Berkeley and UC officials. The report begins with a narrative summary of these topics and concludes with a list of relevant links and article summaries. At the bottom, I’ve also included a small selection of writings from right-wing media outlets.

The First & Second Amendments

The rally in Virginia and other recent right-wing gatherings have claimed the mantle of free speech, raising the question of what kind of speech, if any, campuses and municipalities can ban. While some called for government action to block the gathering of white supremacists in Charlottesville, the ACLU – an institution the left has embraced with renewed vigor in the era of Trump – defended the marchers’ right to assemble. After the City of Charlottesville moved to pull the march’s event permit, the ACLU intervened to support what it has framed as free speech. As Vox notes, the ACLU is famous for defending the rights of Neo-Nazis to march in Skokie, IL in the 1970s. In a lengthy essay, Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept argues that accusations from left-wing activists that the ACLU enabled the Charlottesville tragedy are misguided, pointing out that the ACLU is the frequent target of the right for its support of left-wing groups and the legal defense it has provided for suspected terrorists. Such impartiality, Greenwald contends, is essential for the protection of civil liberties, as enabling the state to limit speech is a slippery slope.

Nonetheless, discord within the ACLU has grown since Charlottesville. As the LA Times notes, the “ACLU’s three California affiliates released a statement Wednesday declaring that ‘white supremacist violence is not free speech.'” Amid the criticism, the ACLU has announced it will not defend white supremacist groups that wish to protest with guns, a new stance for the organization.

Analysis by Slate highlighted how the presence of armed protestors creates a clear conflict between First and Second Amendment rights (while much attention has been paid to the weapons carried by the white nationalists in Charlottesville, the article claims guns were also carried by some anti-racist activists). The article argues that the presence of legally carried firearms makes police hesitant to intervene when skirmishes break out for fear of inciting a mass shooting. However, the skirmishes make it impossible for non-violent protestors to realize their First Amendment rights. As a result, in practice, “The right to bear arms overrides the right to free speech.” Nonetheless, the authors contend courts should consider limiting the right to bear arms in order to protect freedom of speech.

Confusing matters, many of the heavily-armed militia members who appeared in Charlottesville have stated they condemn white supremacy and the violence that occurred. As reported by the Guardianmilitia leaders claim they intended only to protect first amendment rights, with one leader referring to the white supremacists as “rightwing lunatics.” Nonetheless, a photograph in the Atlantic clearly shows a self-styled militia member with a Confederate flag on his suit (the Guardian article includes a militia leader stating such racist displays are not associated with his movement). The relevant article in the Atlantic picks apart the militia’s line of reasoning, contending that openly carrying weapons is not a way to protect political speech but a means of chilling it.

But, is it possible the racist chants heard at the rally cross a legal line beyond protected speech? In 1942, the Supreme Court ruled “fighting words” are not protected, defining the term as “those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.” In an article, Vox provided conflicting legal opinions on whether the chants heard at the rally constitute “fighting words.” Nonetheless, citing a string of comparatively-less offensive incidents in which offensive speech was ruled to be unprotected, the article concludes that some of the chants should not earn protection under the First Amendment.

Advice for Campuses

In a widely circulated report, the Southern Poverty Law Center offers advice for campuses where alt-right speakers intend to gather. In short, the SPLC suggests that such speakers intend to create a spectacle, and thus the best course of action is to offer a spectacle focused on inclusion far removed from the alt-right demonstrators. While the report doesn’t explicitly condemn Antifa for violent clashes with the alt-right, the report is being read as a condemnation of such tactics. So will students listen to the SPLC? According to a number of experts on social movements quoted in an article from Inside Higher Ed, it’s unlikely student activists will stay away.

Responses to planned alt-right campus events differ dramatically. While UC Berkeley leaders have stated they are willing to spend $500,000 to protect a single speaker, a number of schools are moving to cancel speeches. The Monday after Charlottesville, Texas A&M announced it would cancel an appearance by Richard Spencer, according to the New York Times. The University of Florida also denied a request from Spencer, citing the recent events in Virginia and social media posts that predicted violence. The university’s president stressed violence and not a desire to limit speech drove his decision. Legal challenges are possible, and this spring, a federal judge ruled Auburn University could not block an appearance by Spencer. The following event turned violent.

In an LA Times op-ed, two USC professors urged campus leaders to explicitly call alt-right protesters racist and acknowledge the influence such right-wing activism has on students on color. The op-ed was critical of UVA President Teresa Sullivan for not making this point clear enough. An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education cites an array of campus leaders who feel that little can be done to prevent the presence of the alt-right, and, as a result, the focus should be on safety once they arrive. They stressed that the same things that make college campuses strong, inclusion and openness, are also what make it possible for the alt-right to appear.

Planned Alt-Right Events in the Bay Area

On Sunday, August 27, there are plans for a rally entitled “No to Marxism in America” in downtown Berkeley at MLK Civic Center Park. According to the Facebook invitation:

In America we have Marxism being taught in our schools and communities. Berkeley is a ground zero for the Marxist Movement and we need to speak out and say NO to Marxism. This event is our chance to speak out and expose the plan of purging our nation from a free nation to a communist nation. We will not tolerate this in America. So we are asking people to come stand against Marxism.

Berkeley’s mayor has said the city is exploring means to stop the event, which has no permit. An article in the LA Times notes the organizing effort behind the event is amorphous and not centered around a particular organization. On Friday, the Berkeley City Council passed an emergency ordinance in a 7-to-1 vote granting the city manager the ability to impose rules on street gatherings that do not have a permit. Previous rules allowed such control to be imposed within a park, but police lost their ability to enforce such rules if protestors spilled into the streets. The new rule sunsets on Dec. 31.

There are also plans for a rally on August 26 at San Francisco’s Chrissy Field, though local, state, and federal politicians have called for the National Park Service to deny a permit to the organization behind the event, Patriot Prayer. According to the Mercury News Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson, has publicly disavowed the Charlottesville attack. Gibson, who identifies as a Japanese American, said in an interview with a Portland TV station that he hopes white supremacists stay away from his events. As reported by the SF Chronicle, in an online video, he noted the rally will have speakers who are black, Hispanic, Asian and transgender. At previous rallies Gibson has organized, white supremacists have had a sizable presence. The issue of whether the August 26 rally will be permitted is unresolved, according to media reports.

Further, a student magazine, the California Patriot, has invited Milo Yiannopoulos to a four-day so-called free speech event, as noted by the New York Times. The organization has also invited Ann Coulter and David Horowitz. Details about the Yiannopoulos event have not been reported, though the alt-right leader has made declarations about intending to stage a week-long event on campus this fall. Former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro is scheduled to appear on campus September 14, though college Republicans criticized the campus for putting too many conditions on the appearance.

At Berkeley

Much attention has fallen on Berkeley’s new chancellor, Carol Christ, who has dubbed the upcoming school year “Free Speech Year.” As the LA Times and Inside Higher Ed note, Christ plans to host a number of events intended to explore the history of free speech at Cal and to demonstrate the manner in which debate between opposing sides can elevate everyone’s understanding. The events are pegged as a rebuke to the style of violent protests and counter-protests that have engulfed Berkeley and other communities.

In order to limit such violence this school year, the campus has also instituted a new interim policy governing all outside campus speakers. According to the LA Times, “campus police will provide a security assessment for certain large events that could endanger public safety, and the hosting organizations will be responsible for basic costs. Such organizations will have to give advance notice, preferably eight weeks or longer, and provide detailed timetables — and contracts with speakers may not be finalized until the campus has confirmed the venue and given final approval. The rules will be applied to all events, regardless of viewpoint.” Campus leaders note these rules are not entirely new and instead are intended to eliminate any “gray areas.”

Links

Advice

8/10 – Guide: The Alt-Right on Campus: What Students Need to Know (SPLCenter): The report advises, “While there’s nothing wrong with peaceful student protests against a hateful ideology, it’s best to draw attention to hope instead. Hold an alternative event – away from the alt-right event – to highlight your cam­pus’ commitment to inclusion and our nation’s democratic values.”

8/16 – Will Students Stay Away From White Supremacists? (InsideHigherEd): Doug McAdam, an expert on social movements, says student activists are unlikely to avoid confrontation with the alt-right.

8/12 – When White Supremacists Descend, What Can a College President Do? (Chronicle): The article quotes James Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association, as saying, “(E)verything that white supremacists think is wrong with this country,” including the celebration of diversity and the integration of diverse histories into college curricula.

8/12 – Op-Ed: What UVA did wrong when white supremacists came to campus (LATimes): According to the two authors, “Mishandling these situations in raceless ways does nothing to confirm, for instance, that black lives matter. It signals to students and faculty that their university is either too unaware, too afraid or insufficiently skilled to talk about racism, let alone to address it.”

8/16 – After Charlottesville Violence, Colleges Brace for More Clashes (NYT): The article offers a run down of the response from a number of campuses of planned alt-right activity.

8/10 – An Anti-Hate Group Has This Advice for When the Alt-Right Comes to Campus (Chronicle): This article summarizes the SPLC’s guide.

8/18 – Op-ed: Charlottesville Will Move On (NYT): Charlottesville’s mayor insists restricting the democratic rights white supremacists exploit is not the path forward, instead emphasizing the responsibilities of various institutions to promote inclusiveness.

8/19 – Commentary: Charlottesville Was Not a Surprise (Slate): The author notes the existence of white supremacism should be no surprise, and that focusing anti-racist energy on removing Confederate statues “is the very least we can do.”

8/19 – The road to hate: For six young men, Charlottesville is only the beginning (WaPo): An expert at the SPLC compares the radicalization of alt-right supporters to Islamic extremists, saying it’s driven by personal failure, limited economic prospects and “a radical ideology promising answers.” As one extremist tells the Post, “White privilege, I’m still waiting for my privilege.”

Free Speech & the Right to Bear Arms

8/14 – The Guns Won (Slate): The authors write:

But of course, the presence of a gun itself dramatically heightens the odds that somebody is going to get shot. And, as Saturday proved, the presence of many guns, particularly the sort that can kill many people in very little time, may dissuade law enforcement from stepping in when a protest gets out of hand. The result is an alarming form of censorship: Nonviolent demonstrators lose their right to assemble and express their ideas because the police are too apprehensive to shield them from violence. The right to bear arms overrides the right to free speech. And when protesters dress like militia members and the police are confused about who is with whom, chaos is inevitable.

8/12 – Why the ACLU defends white nationalists’ right to protest — including in Charlottesville (Vox): While the ACLU has experienced some resignations over its support of the rally, the organization has not reversed its stance.

8/13 – The Misguided Attacks on ACLU for Defending Neo-Nazis’ Free Speech Rights in Charlottesville (TheIntercept): Greenwald writes:

The need to fight neo-Nazism and white supremacy wherever it appears is compelling. The least effective tactic is to try to empower the state to suppress the expression of their views. That will backfire in all sorts of ways: strengthening that movement and ensuring that those who advocate state censorship today are its defenseless targets tomorrow. And whatever else is true, the impulse to react to terrorist attacks by demanding the curtailment of core civil liberties is always irrational, dangerous, and self-destructive, no matter how tempting that impulse might be.

8/17 – In Backing Alt-Right, A.C.L.U. Embraces Role in Defending ‘Groups We Detest’ (NYT): The article notes the ACLU “stayed uncharacteristically quiet when the University of California, Berkeley, canceled speeches by two right-wing writers and provocateurs, Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter, earlier this year, issuing statements and tweets, mainly after the controversy had already passed.”

8/15 – Some racist, homophobic chants in Charlottesville may not be protected under 1st Amendment (Vox): The article cites a number of cases in which speech was ruled illegal:

In 1999, a Minnesota appeals court found that calling a police officer a white, racist “motherfucker” and wishing his mother would die was not considered free speech.

In 2001, a Minnesota appeals court upheld a ruling (State v. Hubbard) that a man who repeatedly flashed lewd hand signals to a young female driver was not exhibiting protected speech. That same year, an appeals court in Arizona found that it was not free speech when a man called a black woman the n-word and threw an empty can of Mountain Dew at her on the street.

In 2003, a Wisconsin appeals court ruled that calling a nude woman on the beach a “whore,” “harlot,” and “Jezebel” was not protected.

In 2010, a North Dakota court upheld a ruling against a teen who called a black girl the n-word at a teen dance and then again at a restaurant. The defendant’s attorney argued that saying the n-word is not a crime. The court said that while the First Amendment does protect use of the slur, “an objectively reasonable person would find the totality of [the defendant’s] statements constituted explicit and implicit threats that were likely to incite a breach of the peace or violent reaction and alarm the listener.”

8/17 – Tensions grow inside ACLU over defending free-speech rights for the far right (LATimes): According to ACLU’s executive director, “(W)e believe that even odious hate speech, with which we vehemently disagree, garners the protection of the 1st Amendment when expressed non-violently. We make decisions on whom we’ll represent and in what context on a case-by-case basis. The horrible events in Charlottesville last weekend will certainly inform those decisions going forward.”

8/15 – Militia leaders who descended on Charlottesville condemn ‘rightwing lunatics’ (Guardian): A leader of the organization said he contacted local police before the event to offer help with security, a request that was denied, though police did provide an escort for the militiamen.

8/16 – The Chilling Effects of Openly Displayed Firearms (Atlantic): The article picks apart the argument that guns serve as the only means to deter political violence.

8/17 – ACLU Will No Longer Defend Hate Groups Protesting With Firearms (WSJ): The organization’s executive director told the paper, ““The events of Charlottesville require any judge, any police chief and any legal group to look at the facts of any white-supremacy protests with a much finer comb. If a protest group insists, ‘No, we want to be able to carry loaded firearms,’ well, we don’t have to represent them. They can find someone else.”

Events in the Bay Area

8/14 – Alameda County Sheriff deletes retweet of Richard Spencer (SFGate): the ACSO claims the retweet of the alt-right leader was accidental.

8/14 – Right-wing rallies planned in San Francisco, Berkeley (SJMN): The article was one of the first pieces reporting the rallies.

8/15 – San Francisco Leaders Question Permit For Alt-Right Rally at Crissy Field, Seek Security Precautions From Park Service (NBC/BayArea): The article quotes numerous local leaders opposed to the rally.

8/14 – ‘White supremacist’ patriot rally coming to San Francisco — counter-protest already planned (SFExaminer): The article notes a counter-protest was quick to organize.

8/15 – In wake of Charlottesville, Bay Area law enforcement girds for protests (SFGate): The article includes an interview with California-based white nationalist Nathan Damigo, who was involved in earlier Berkeley riots.

8/15 – S.F. Leaders Vow Fight to Stop Far Right Rally (KQED): The article says a decision about the permit should be made by Aug. 25, one day before the event.

8/16 – Northern California pushes back as white nationalists plan rallies (LATimes): Berkeley’s mayor urged people to ignore the rally and warned protestors, ““Anyone who threatens to engage in violence — and we have seen from earlier events that this is exactly their intent — will be arrested and punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

8/19 – Berkeley modifies city laws to empower officials during protests (SFGate): Some community members expressed concern the new rule ceded too much power to the police. The council introduced the sunset clause and a condition that such powers be exercised only when 100 or more participants are expected.

8/17 – Crissy Field rally group has history of provoking fights (SFChronicle): Despite the organizer’s claim of promoting a moderate position, his events have often led to fighting.

Berkeley & UC

8/15 – UC Berkeley chancellor unveils ‘Free Speech Year’ as right-wing speakers plan campus events (LATimes): Christ is quoted as saying, ““You have the right to expect the university to keep you physically safe, but we would be providing you less of an education, preparing you less well for the world after you graduate, if we tried to protect you from ideas that you may find wrong, even noxious.”

8/14 – Press Release: A message from the chancellor on Charlottesville (Berkeley): The statement condemns the violence and views of the white supremacists.

8/14 – Press Release: Letter from UC President Janet Napolitano on the violence in Charlottesville (UCOP): Napolitano calls the events in Charlottesville “domestic terrorism.”

8/15 – Leading Berkeley Through Free Speech Tests (InsideHigherEd): The article offers an overview of recent events on Berkeley’s campus and challenges ahead for Christ as she attempts to balance free speech and student safety.

Views from the Right

8/15 – Op-Ed: Campus Conservatives Gave the Alt-Right a Platform (NationalReview): While the author, an editorial intern, is critical of what he describes as left-wing intolerance, he criticizes college Republican groups for legitimizing a brand of conservatism that is anything but.

8/16 – Editorial: Trump and His ‘Very Fine People’ (WeeklyStandard): The editorial condemns Trump’s remarks about some “very fine people” marching in Charlottesville.

8/15 – White Nationalist Groups to Hold Rallies in San Francisco, Berkeley (Breitbart): The platform most commonly associated with the rise of white nationalism takes a traditional news lens on the matter:

At least two white nationalist groups are planning to hold rallies in San Francisco and Berkeley, California later this month. The announcements came just days after a white supremacist and neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia — where members of the far-left Antifa movement were also present — turned deadly. 32-year-old paralegal Heather Heyer was killed when a car driven by a suspected neo-Nazi rammed into a crowd of participants. At least 19 others were injured.

8/16 – Major Figures Work To Mainstream Violent Antifa Protesters (DailyCaller): The far-right publication claims that comparisons of Antifa and WWII soldiers legitimates Antifa violence.

To suggest additions to this report, please contact tyler_leeds [at] berkeley.edu

 

Media Coverage 8/14/17

Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ last week released a plan for cutting the campus’s $110 million deficit by about $53 million during the 2018 fiscal year. The plan relies on new revenue from expanded academic offerings and gifts to account for over half the reduction. Nearly $20 million is slated to be cut from academic, research and administrative units, with a four percent cut for Cal Athletics and a five percent cut for BAMPFA. The campus’s top leaders will also forgo a salary increase.

According to campus leaders, the revenue-generating academic offerings include “new or expanded academic programming in University Extension, Summer Sessions, Concurrent Enrollment, Self Supporting Graduate Professional Degree Programs, and via Professional Degree Supplemental Tuition.” Despite the plan, there exists a $2 billion gap between the campus’s capital needs and projected funding. Budget items that will not face any reductions include academic salaries, scholarships and fellowships, funding of the Student Health Insurance Program and the campus’s Sexual Harassment Prevention Program.

It was a bad week for former Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, who newspapers noted will have a fully-paid year off before returning to Cal as a professor. As is typical for exiting UC chancellors, Dirks will receive 80 percent of his former salary during his time away, which in this case means Dirks will make $434,000. Both lawmakers and faculty leaders are quoted criticizing the generous policy. Further, an editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle questioned the utility of paying Dirks such a high rate as the university struggles to stay afloat. Meanwhile, a rather un-timely Wall Street Journal revived the “escape hatch” fiasco from Dirks’ tenure, when the campus was criticized for building an escape route from the chancellor’s office. The op-ed cites email records which show staff were concerned about violent student protests, and ends by suggesting the campus arrest students who break the law. Dirks had his own op-ed published last week in The Washington Post, in which he discussed the challenge of protecting free speech on campus in the face of violent protesters. The piece was criticized in a response published by the conservative National Review.

While the national media focused this week on the college town of Charlottesville, VA, where a white supremacist attending a rally murdered a counter-protester, local media covered the trials of two left-wing protestors accused of violence that allegedly occurred during riots in Berkeley earlier this year. Eric Clanton, a former community college philosophy professor, has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon, a felony, for striking a man with a bike lock. Yvette Felarca, a teacher at Berkeley Middle School, is charged with felony assault and two misdemeanors. During the week, UC President Janet Napolitano waded into the political arena, writing an op-ed in The Washington Post calling on Congress to pass legislation protecting “dreamers” covered under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Ten GOP state attorneys general have threatened to sue the Trump Administration if the president doesn’t repeal DACA by early September.

Berkeley’s Budget

8/10 – Campus unveils revenue-driven budget that cuts $15M from academic, research and administrative divisions (DailyCal): The article includes a nice campus-produced graphic that breaks down the cuts.

8/11 – UC Berkeley Budget Cuts Campus Deficit by Nearly Half (KQED): According to the article, “Teaching units would, for the most part, be able to use new revenue to meet their budget targets. Research units, however, would not have that cushion and would need to reduce their expenses by an average of 4 percent.”

Dirks’ Week

8/11 – Editorial: UC Berkeley perks are part of the problem (SFChronicle): The editorial notes such policies are not uncommon, but characterized UC’s as especially generous.

8/8 – UC Berkeley ex-chancellor to receive $434,000 while on leave (SFChronicle): The article quotes a spokesperson explaining the policy by saying its purpose “is to allow top-flight academics to get back up to speed in their field and begin research, which they weren’t able to do while in their administrative role.”

8/8 – Former UC Berkeley chancellor to earn $434,000 in paid time off (SJMN): BFA Chair Michael Burawoy is quoted as commenting, “Even though it’s part of his contract, this looks like a reward for incompetence. It is an appalling commentary on the distribution of benefits at a time of supposed fiscal crisis and when many students can barely scrape together a living. He should contribute half his salary to a fund for homeless students.”

8/9 – Op-Ed: The real issue in the campus speech debate: The university is under assault (WaPo): Dirks writes, “At Berkeley, as at other college campuses across the country, ensuring that students from minority backgrounds feel welcomed and supported, while also insisting on the unfettered exploration of diverse ideas, raises complicated issues even without the eruption of violent protest. Indeed, free speech controversies are embedded in what might seem to be fundamental contradictions, most notably between widely held campus commitments to diversity, inclusion, and social mobility on the one hand, and the constitutional right to free speech on the other.”

8/10 – Berkeley Chancellor Dirks Mischaracterizes Goldwater Proposal (NationalReview): The author argues his plan for campuses was mischaracterized.

8/9 – A Berkeley ‘Escape Hatch’ (WSJ): The rather unfocused editorial ends by noting, “So there you have it: Administrators are no longer figuratively retreating or cowering from out-of-control students. They’re creating the physical architecture to literally do so. It might be more dignified and less expensive to have these kids arrested when they break the law.”

Other News

8/11 – Op-Ed: Congress has the power — and the responsibility — to protect the ‘dreamers’ (WaPo): In the op-ed, Napolitano writes, “As University of California president, I also see the exceptional contributions that young dreamers make to our country. Most are the first in their families to attend college, and they work hard to further their educations.”

8/11 – UC owes $1.3 million to thousands of underpaid employees (SacBee): The settlement comes after a Department of Labor investigation found UC underpaid 13,700 non-academic workers by small amounts.

8/10 – Preliminary hearing for Eric Clanton, charged with Berkeley bike lock assault, pushed to September (Berkeleyside): Clanton was identified by an online effort that became a popular cause on the right.

8/10 – Berkeley Teacher Filmed Punching Neo-Nazi Arraigned In Sacramento (CBS/SF): Video allegedly shows Felarca attacking a man who has his hands raised.

 

Media Coverage 8/7/17

A New York Times article interviewed and named two Berkeley students who identify as members of Antifa and participated in last school year’s clashes. The article does not address an issue important to UC’s PR efforts, namely the degree to which Antifa’s composition is made up of students and non-students. After a violent protest last school year, then Chancellor Dirks in a statement characterized the violent Antifa protestors as distinct from students. The article featured a transgender student and Muslim student who both say they feel threatened on campus. The article’s author notes one intention of the piece is to to complicate the image of Antifa as a white male movement focused on making trouble. The article also quotes Nathan Damigo, a white nationalist activist from Cal State Stanislaus who was recorded punching a woman at a protest in Berkeley. Asked about plans to return to Berkeley, Damigo said, “We have some plans.”

In other news, UC Irvine continued to receive criticism for rescinding 500 admissions offers based on slumping senior year grades and missed deadlines, including from San Francisco Assemblyman Phil Ting, who asked the UC president to intervene. The move by Irvine was interpreted as a way to lesson the strain of higher than anticipated enrollment. On Wednesday, Irvine’s chancellor announced all students would be admitted, except those whose offers were revoked for academic reasons. However, those students will be offered an “expedited process” to review any extenuating circumstances. An op-ed in the New York Times praised the reversal and the chancellor’s mea culpa.

In other news, as the Trump administrations eyes changes to how the Justice Department views campus affirmative action, the history of Proposition 209’s impact on UC has received renewed attention. In a statement, UC President Napolitano stressed the importance of maintaining a diverse student body. Meanwhile, a decision to reduce the number of managed funds in the UC’s investment portfolio has helped to increase investment returns, with the endowment gaining 14 percent in 11 months.

Protests

8/4 – Behind Berkeley’s Semester of Hate (NYT): The article also notes that Milo Yiannopoulos plans to host a week-long “tent city” on Sproul this fall.

UC Irvine

8/2 – Press Release: Message from UCI Chancellor about current admission issues (UCI): Chancellor Howard Gillman wrote, “The stories of our students whose college dreams were crushed by our decision to withdraw admissions to hundreds of students are heartbreaking. And unacceptable.”

8/3 – Op-Ed: A College Admits a Big Mistake. Imagine That. (NYT):

7/31 – Ting rips UC for withdrawing admission to hundreds at Irvine (SFGate): In a statement, Ting said, “Instead of taking the initiative to effectively communicate with students making life changing decisions, Irvine played a high stakes gotcha game with students.”

Other News

8/4 – The impact of affirmative action at the University of California in one graphic (Guardian): The article notes that the share of black and hispanic students has declined.

8/1 – For many UC Berkeley students, affordable housing is elusive (Berkeleyside): The median rent for a two-bedroom in Berkeley is $2,800.

8/2 – Statement of UC President Janet Napolitano on public university admissions (UCOP): Napolitano: The full statement: “Over the years public universities have been the one tried and true tactic for addressing issues of inequality in our country. Thus, UC has been increasing its outreach efforts to historically underrepresented groups like Latinos and African Americans, while still bound to the strictures of Proposition 209, which bars consideration of race or ethnicity in granting admission. It would be tragic, to say the least, if these efforts somehow ran afoul of this reported misguided Justice Department initiative. ”

8/1 – Money-Manager Purge Boosts University of California’s Return (Bloomberg): The value of UC’s assets are just above $110 billion.

Media Coverage 7/31/17

With possibly hundreds of millions of dollars on the line, UC appealed a February decision by the US Patent Office concerning the gene-editing technology CRISPR. UC Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna and a collaborator, Emmanuelle Charpentier, were the first to utilize the technology, but researchers at the Harvard- and MIT-affiliated Broad Institute were the first to show how the technique can be used on the type of cells found in humans. The winter ruling allowed patents from both parties to stand, as the US Patent Office found UC’s more general claim was not infringed upon by the Broad Institute’s narrower claim. That decision could mean an enormous amount of licensing revenue is split between the parties. Last Tuesday, UC filed an appeal arguing that the Broad Institute’s patent claim is a clear extension of Doudna’s work. A similar legal tussle is ongoing in Europe. Meanwhile, an LA Times columnist noted Doudna’s misgivings about the technology’s potential. In a dream, Doudna says she envisioned being asked about the technology’s power by Adolf Hitler.

In other news, UC Davis’s new chancellor, Gary May, takes the reins this Tuesday, though ousted Chancellor Linda Katehi will also return to the faculty with a $318,000 9-month salary. UC Irvine has elicited criticism for rescinding 500 admissions offers due to missing paperwork and poor senior grades. The campus acknowledged it was being stricter than usual, which critics allege is driven by higher-than-expected enrollment.

CRISPR

7/26 – UC Berkeley fights back over epic loss in CRISPR verdict (SJMN): If UC wins its appeal, the issue will return to the patent office for another review.

7/26 – Ding, ding, ding! CRISPR patent fight enters next round (Science): The article downplays UC’s chance of a victory.

7/21 – Column: CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna struggles with the ethical implications of what she has wrought (LATimes): Doudna recently released a book about the history of the technology’s creation and her concerns about its future.

Other News

7/28 – UC Davis’ Linda Katehi returns to teaching, but she’ll be paid like a chancellor (SacBee): The article notes it is not clear whether Katehi will teach this fall.

7/25 – Press Release: Chancellor May Takes Office Aug. 1 (UCDavis): May comes to Davis from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

7/28 – UC Irvine is under fire for rescinding 500 admission offers two months before fall term begins (LATimes): The article notes UCI has encouraged impacted students to file appeals.

Media Coverage 7/24/17

UC Berkeley’s administration is attempting to avoid a repeat of the controversy that erupted after two right-wing speakers were prevented from addressing students last academic year. In response to a claim by Berkeley College Republicans that former Breitbart writer Ben Shapiro is being “blocked” from addressing their organization, campus leaders are insisting a venue is available for a September talk. The administration may even pick up some of the costs for the venue, according to a statement. Berkeley College Republicans claimed this past week campus leaders had vetoed the appearance, which led to criticism from the left and right online. However, in a statement, Chancellor Carol Christ said, “We believe deeply in the value and importance of free speech and fully support student groups’ right to invite speakers of their choice to campus.” During the previous academic year, campus leaders insisted they did not cancel the events out of concern over their content, but rather to protect the safety of students from violent protesters.

An editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle praised the campus’s handling of this past week’s controversy, noting, “the recent crop of speakers and their supporters have at times seemed more eager to be refused than to be accommodated — and to therefore have the opportunity to accuse UC Berkeley of being a liberal echo chamber that has drifted a long way from the days when the Free Speech Movement began there.”

Ben Shapiro

7/22 – Editorial: UC makes right call on free speech (SFChronicle): The editorial praises Berkeley’s handling of the most recent flare up.

7/20 – UC Berkeley Now Says It Will Host Conservative Speaker Ben Shapiro (KQED): The article quotes affiliates of BCR saying the campus has not communicated well with BCR.

7/20 – Why Is There No Room At UC Berkeley For Conservative Ben Shapiro? (DailyBeast): Despite the slanted headline, the story is mostly balanced, despite focusing on the experience of BCR.

7/20 – Cal brouhaha over conservative pundit Ben Shapiro’s planned visit (SFGate): BCR sent out a press release at one point that read “Berkeley blocks Ben Shapiro!”

7/20 – UC Berkeley can’t find venue for yet another conservative speaker — and gets put on notice (TheBlaze): The conservative outlet frames the controversy as a fight for the free speech of conservative students.

Other News

7/20 – Cal Needs A Bailout (InsideHigherEd): The author draws a parallel between the financial catastrophe linked to Berkeley’s football stadium and campus finances in South Carolina.

7/17 – The UC application process is changing — and some people don’t like it (SJMN): Concerns have been raised about a change to allow UC campuses to solicit recommendation letters as part of the admissions process from up to 15 percent of the pool. Some are worried students in large, under-staffed schools will be disadvantaged, though a pilot program at Berkeley seems to not have had that effect.