Media Coverage 04/24/17

Ann Coulter’s insistence on speaking in the Berkeley area on Thursday, April 27 has raised fears of another violent political clash on UC Berkeley’s campus. The conservative commentator was invited to speak on campus by a student Republican group, which failed to inform the administration of their invitation. After campus leaders got wind of the invite, they insisted the organization and Coulter agree to a number of conditions aimed at preventing a repeat of the riot which stopped Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking on campus. Eventually, the administration cancelled the April 27 event, offering to host the speaker at a later date.

The cancellation was criticized by the student group and across right wing media outlets, which repeatedly questioned the campus’s commitment to free speech. Prof. Robert Reich, who has a following on the left, also waded into the fray, saying Coulter should be allowed to speak. The university insisted Coulter was being allowed to speak, but that moving the date would allow her to do so safely. Coulter rejected the later date, saying it would not work for her schedule and she had committed to April 27. Since the Yiannopoulos event, the city of Berkeley has been the scene of violent clashes between supporters of President Donald Trump and those opposed to the administration, many of whom identify as Antifa, or anti-fascists. Some media reports have noted there is an effort to find a nearby off-campus venue for Coulter to use on April 27. The student Republican group has stated it may sue the university over the incident. On the lighter side, the controversy was lampooned by the satirical website The Onion, which ran the headline, “Berkeley Campus On Lockdown After Loose Pages From ‘Wall Street Journal’ Found On Park Bench.”

In other news, an audit by the state questioned the management of the California State University system. The report found that between fiscal years 2007-08 and 2015-16, the number of managers grew by 15 percent while the number of faculty rose by only 7 percent. It also raises questions about how managers are evaluated and compensated. UC’s finances are also in the news, as a digital overhaul of UC’s payroll and personnel system entitled UCPath has seen four years of delays and costs triple.

News Articles

4/21 – How Berkeley has become the far left’s and far right’s battleground (WaPo): The article notes how UC Berkeley and the City of Berkeley have become sites for frequent clashes between activists on both ends of the political spectrum, though its discussion of the far left conflates distinct movements. It notes targeting campuses is often a successful strategy for the right:

The showdowns are, for many on the far right, part of a successful strategy: schedule a controversial event on campus or in town, wait for the liberal outrage and threats of violence to grow, and when the event is canceled, point out the hypocrisy and oppression against free speech.

4/21 – Berkeley Is Being Tested on 2 Fronts: Free Speech and Safety (NYT): The article frames the campus’s weighing of free speech, violence and its reputation.

4/20 – How Berkeley became a hotbed of violence in the Trump era (Politico): Politico takes a deep look at the recent eruptions in Berkeley and what’s motivating protestors.

4/20 – Satire: Berkeley Campus On Lockdown After Loose Pages From ‘Wall Street Journal’ Found On Park Bench (TheOnion): The satirical website wrote:

Advising students to remain in their dormitories and classrooms until the situation was resolved, the University of California, Berkeley declared a campuswide lockdown Thursday after several loose pages from The Wall Street Journal were found on a park bench outside a school building. “At 11:15 this morning, several pages from two separate sections of today’s Wall Street Journal were discovered spread across a bench outside of Eshleman Hall in Lower Sproul Plaza,” read the urgent alert sent to all students and faculty, emphasizing that while campus security and local police had safely disposed of the pages, there was no way of knowing if others were strewn elsewhere on university grounds. “As of now, the perpetrator remains at large, so it is vital that you stay where you are until the all-clear is given. In the meantime, notify police immediately if you have any additional information at all regarding this incident.” At press time, a black-clad group of 50 students were throwing bottles at the bench while chanting, “No Nazis, No KKK, No Fascist U.S.A!”

4/20 – Cal State hires too many managers, needs better budget oversight, state audit finds (LATimes): The article notes Cal Poly was singled out as a particularly bad apple. According to the article, the campus “increased pay for at least 70 management personnel in 2016 who either had outdated performance evaluations or no evaluations on file.”

You can read the audit here.

4/17 – Cost triples, delays mount for UC computer system upgrade (SacBee): A total of $327 million has been spent on the project so far, which is only operational at UC’s system headquarters.

 

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Media Coverage 9/23/16

After caving to outside pressure from Jewish groups and banning (on officially technical grounds) a student-led DeCal course covering Palestine , UC Berkeley was again swayed by outside pressure to reinstate the class. However, the press hasn’t been able to get the inside story of decision-making that led to the reversal, it seems…

Officially, a university dean met with the class facilitator after she determined the course hadn’t been properly reviewed. After the meeting and a few tweaks to the syllabus, the course has been reinstated. Obviously, this is not the full story, but it is the one the university will admit to.

Elsewhere, a university is suing its student newspaper (an incredible story) and beer sales are now seen as a funding savior. But first, more students on UC campuses:

UC Enrollment

9/22 – UC campuses scramble to make room for thousands more new California students (LAT): The fallout from UCOP’s ‘more in-state students for more money’ deal with Gov. Brown is being felt in  ever tighter dorm rooms. This quote sums up the impact on Berkeley nicely: “Overall, Berkeley expects to hire more than 130 new instructors and teaching assistants. The nearly $3.8 million in state funds the campus received for the new students wasn’t enough to cover the extra classes, instruction, housing, tutoring, mental health services, technology, classrooms and housing. Berkeley had to redirect $2.2 million more to pay for them, even though it faces a critical budget deficit.”

Palestine: A Settler Colonial History

Dean of Social Sciences Carla Hesse’s letter about her decision to reinstate the class can be found here.

9/19 – UC Berkeley reinstates class on Palestine following outcry over its suspension (Guardian): A nice overview of reactions from various sides following the reinstatement.

9/20 – Op-Ed: DeCal’s cancellation transpired through unfair shortcuts (DailyCal): Associate Prof. Samera Esmeir argues the universities swift move to cancel the course throws into doubt “the survival of spaces for students to study and debate difficult and politically complex issues facing our world today.”

9/19 – UC Berkeley reinstates controversial course on history of Palestine (LAT): Article questions whether the syllabus was meaningfully changed.

CSU

9/22 – Governor signs bills to boost graduation rates at California universities (LAT): Law intended to boost the CSU system’s low graduation rate was signed.

Elsewhere in Higher Ed

9/22 – U. Kentucky is suing its student newspaper, trying to block sexual assault reporting (WaPo): In a truly incredible story, UK went ahead and sued its student newspaper, trying to prevent it from releasing public documents (which the state AG ordered the school to hand over to the newspaper). The newspaper believes the university is seeking to protect itself, as the documents in question concern a professor accused of sexual misconduct.

9/19 – Get Yer Beer Here (IHE): Despite fears of drunk undergrads, public universities are turning to alcohol sales at football games to boost revenue and attendance.

9/21 – CC not free for some Oregon students with heavy course loads (AP): A much-hyped free-tuition plan in Oregon comes with a bit of fine print, to the surprise of some students who will see (admittedly) small bills.

Media Coverage 7/15/16

A busy week for UC news, as Berkeley’s chancellor is under investigation by the university system for improperly accepting free athletic training from a university employee and misusing public funds for a trip to India. The investigation comes on the heels of a number of accusations that the chancellor has mishandled sexual harassment incidents and an investigation into a football coach suspected of inciting violence. Speaking of football, it’s possible a current coach at UCLA was privy to the serial sexual child abuse by Jerry Sandusky while the UCLA coach worked at Penn State. Additionally, a report found widespread hunger among UC Students and the national media paid attention to California’s fight over out-of-state enrollment. On a brighter note, UC earned more US patents in 2015 than any other university.

Dirks

7/12 – UC Berkeley chancellor under investigation for alleged misuse of public funds, personal use of campus athletic trainer (LATimes): Chancellor Dirks is being investigated for “misuse of public funds for travel and the personal use of a campus athletic trainer without payment.” Dirks says he will comment when the investigation is over.

7/13 – Chancellor Nicholas Dirks under investigation for alleged misuse of funds, athletic services (DailyCal):  Faculty claim this incident adds to a general sense of distrust toward Dirks.

& more from SFGate, including the detail that the whistler-blower, a former colleague of the trainer being investigated alongside Dirks, was fired for embezzlement.  The San Jose Mercury News puts the investigation into the context of recent campus controversies. Also, read the letter from UC COO Rachael Nava to Dirks.

Hunger

7/12 – 1 in 5 University of California students struggles with hunger, study finds (SJMN): A total of 42 percent of students are food insecure, based on a survey of 9,000 students.

& more coverage from the LA Times.

Football

7/11 – UC Berkeley renews controversial coach’s contract (SFGate): Damon Harrington’s $150,000 contract was renewed. While faculty ask for a new investigation into his role in an athlete’s beating and another athlete’s death, Cal football players have rallied behind the coach.

7/12 – Unsealed testimony claims Tom Bradley knew of Penn State abuse (DailyBruin): UCLA football defensive coordinator Tom Bradley knew of Jerry Sandusky’s serial sexual child abuse while working at Penn State, according to testimony recently unsealed by a Pennsylvania court. Bradley denies knowing about any abuse.

& a nice student op-ed on what is sacrificed by the desire to win on the field.

Out-of-State

7/8 – Editorial: University of California in denial over damage it did (SDUT): Short editorial questions UCOP’s dismissal of the state’s audit.

7/7 – Public Colleges Chase Out-of-State Students, and Tuition (NYT): While the political fight over UC’s out-of-state student population has drawn much attention, this article notes public universities across the country have turned en masse to out-of-state students for the money they bring. As schools let in more students from out-of-state capable of paying higher tuition, the enrollment of black, Hispanic and low-income students declines.

7/12 – After Outcry, University of California Increases In-State Admission Offers (NYT): A recap of the UC system’s increased in-state admission offers in light of political pressure.

7/11 – Flagships Must Create New Models to Preserve the Public Good (Chronicle): Dirks recounts the history of declining state support for higher education, noting the current course is unsustainable if schools like Berkeley wish to remain great. Take note:

For Berkeley, as for other public institutions, this will mean becoming ever more aggressive in developing new funding models, including innovative master’s programs and more executive education. It also means using our assets in more commercial ways. While we need to shore up and sustain traditional sources of support from state and federal governments, we must also turn to methods that have been successfully used by private universities, including modest though regular increases in tuition while raising the discount level for financial aid, and endowing need-based student aid through fund raising.

This & That

7/8 – CSU cries foul on research grants in San Onofre deal (SDUT): CSU claims UC was unfairly privileged in getting access to $25 million for greenhouse gas research tied to a settlement over the failure of a nuclear plant. A plan to distribute the money to five UC campuses was struck down by the Public Utilities Commission, which may reopen the entire settlement.

& the UCLA Faculty Association with a few comments.

7/13 – Report: UC system secures more US patents in 2015 than any other university (NAI): UC had 489, followed by MIT with 278.