Media Coverage 9/25/17

“Free Speech Week” is off. Following a series of conflicting media reports, it emerged that the student organization that had hastily invited a parade of alt-right speakers to campus for a week-long event had backed out. After hosting a video-press conference on Saturday, event headliner Milo Yiannopoulos appeared on campus Sunday without the backing of any student organization. The university spent an estimated $800,000 to muster a police force for the event, which was largely peaceful despite a large contingent of protesters and a smaller but sizable coterie of right-wing activists. During his brief speech, Yiannopoulos made a sex joke and invited his supporters to pray. After interacting with supporters for about 15 minutes, he was whisked away in a GMC Yukon parked outside Barrows Hall. The student organization behind “Free Speech Week” has reportedly filed a civil rights complaint against UC Berkeley for denying their First Amendment rights. The campus was posed to spend millions on security to ensure the week could occur safely.

Turn-of-the-screw stories detailing the on-again-off-again drama of “Free Speech Week” overshadowed two incidents in which individual members of the Berkeley community were harassed by “Free Speech Week” participants. In one incident, posters from the David Horowitz Freedom Center accused community members of supporting terrorism. In another incident, Yiannopoulos posted information online about two students who had been critical of Free Speech Week.

While “Free Speech Week” monopolized media attention, two stories concerning UC’s financial situation made the news. According to the Daily Cal, the administration is considering cutting funding for Berkeley Connect, a program that unites graduate student mentors with undergraduates. The program not only helps undergrads navigate Cal, but also provides funding to graduate students. A Daily Cal editorial urged the administration to protect the program.

Meanwhile, the LA Times reported that over 5,400 UC retirees take in annual pensions worth over $100,000. As the article notes, “Someone without a pension would need savings between $2 million and $3 million to guarantee a similar income in retirement.” According to the paper, “the number of UC retirees collecting six-figure pensions has increased 60% since 2012.”

Free Speech Sunday

9/21 – UC Berkeley students harassed after Milo Yiannopoulos publicly identifies them (DailyCal): Yiannopoulos published photographs of the two students on social media accounts.

9/21 – Posters alleging UC Berkeley community members are ‘terrorist supporters’ appear on campus (DailyCal): Chancellor Christ condemned the posters in a campus-wide email.

9/24 – Milo Yiannopoulos’ brief visit was ‘most expensive photo op’ in Cal history (SFGate): The article offers a ticker-style update of the day’s events.

9/24 – Milo Yiannopoulos’ 15 minutes in Berkeley cost university $800,000 (SJMN): Yiannopoulos argues the campus prevented his supporters from making it to his speech.

9/23 – Yiannopoulos pledges to speak on UC Berkeley campus Sunday, welcome or not (SFChronicle): In a video conference on Saturday, Yiannopoulos said:

We are going to be hosting an event come hell or high water. We will be expressing our constitutional rights to free speech, free expression, on Sproul Plaza, the home of the Free Speech Movement, tomorrow as planned, with or without student help, with or without the cooperation of UC Berkeley itself. The administration has done everything in its power to crush its own students’ aspirations. UC Berkeley has a deservedly poor reputation for free speech.

9/22 – Milo Yiannopoulos’ ‘Free Speech Week’ At Berkeley Falls Apart, Organizers Say (NPR): The article highlights the confusion around what led to the downfall of Free Speech Week.

9/24 – In Sad, Sad Press Conference, Milo Says ‘Free Speech Week’ Is Now Just One Measly Rally (HuffPo): Yiannopoulos appeared beside an anti-Islamic activist and a noted conspiracy theorist and “mens’ rights” activist.

9/22 – Berkeley Patriot files civil rights complaint against UC Berkeley (DailyCal): The complaint is included as a PDF in the story.

9/22 – Let Right-Wing Speakers Come to Berkeley? Faculty Is Divided (NYT): The article highlights a debate among faculty members over how the campus should respond to the incursions of extreme right-wing speakers.

9/23 – Organizers call off far-right festival at UC Berkeley; some speakers plan rally on campus on Sunday (LATimes): The article notes that the 11 members of Berkeley Patriot were divided over whether to cancel the event. The article also cites information that indicates the event was cancelled earlier than acknowledged, though Yiannopoulos denies the claim.

9/22 – Student Organizers Cancel ‘Free Speech Week’ Events at UC Berkeley (KQED): KQED was one of the first outlets to report the cancellation, though their initial report was refuted by some involved upon publication.

9/22 -‘Out of control situation’: Uncertainty looms over cancellation of ‘Free Speech Week’ (DailyCal): This article highlights some of the confusion in the press over whether the event was cancelled following KQED’s report.

9/19 – Press Release: ACLU of Northern CA Corrects the Record on Berkeley Patriot Statement as Reported on KQED’s The California Report (ACLU/NorthernCalifornia): The statement notes the legal organization is not involved in helping Berkeley Patriot.

9/22 – Confusion reigns as far-right Berkeley ‘free speech week’ approaches: Coulter won’t be coming (LATimes): The article notes that one of the event’s planned headliners, Ann Coulter, “never” planned to attend.

9/18 – Milo Yiannopoulos’ far-right Berkeley event is set to occur at birthplace of 1960s free speech movement (LATimes): The article notes Yiannopoulos’ attempts to leverage the history of Berkeley’s campus.

9/16 – ‘Failure to confirm’: Berkeley Patriot loses Zellerbach, Wheeler auditoriums for ‘Free Speech Week’ (DailyCal): One of the first dominoes to fall in what eventually became the cancellation of Free Speech Week.

9/19 – Op-Ed: There’s no crisis of free speech. Milo’s campus crusade is rank hypocrisy (TheGuardian): The author calls the perception of a threat to free speech a myth.

Berkeley Finances

9/24 – UC is handing out generous pensions, and students are paying the price with higher tuition (LATimes): The paper highlights what it frames as excessive benefits:

Nearly three dozen received pensions in excess of $300,000 last year, four times as many as in 2012. Among those joining the top echelon was former UC President Mark Yudof, who worked at the university for only seven years — including one year on paid sabbatical and another in which he taught one class per semester.

9/19 – Editorial: UC Berkeley is considering defunding valuable mentoring program. This is a mistake (DailyCal): The editorial cites research showing the program boosts transfer student GPAs.

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Media Coverage 7/1/16

It was a quiet week for UC in terms of media coverage. However, in the legislature, AB 1711 has appeared to falter. The bill, which is intended to cap out-of-state enrollment, has hit a roadblock and been significantly altered, according to the official website of the Legislature. First, the bill’s author, Kevin McCarty, amended the bill as it was being considered by the Senate Education Committee. Instead of setting a percentage cap on out-of-state enrollment, the bill now states out-of-state students must exceed the standards which in-state students are held to for admissions. The change is likely a response to the state audit’s finding that out-of-state students were being held to a lower standard than in-state students. However, the bill also failed to pass within the Senate Education Committee on June 29, though reconsideration was granted. See more here.

In other news, questions have arisen over Berkeley’s handling of an investigation into a football player’s death. Also, some have questioned whether UC attempted to stage a PR campaign to counter the impact of the state’s recent audit. Additionally, some UC Davis faculty members wrote a harsh editorial criticizing Napolitano over her handling of the Katehi affair.

Football

6/29 – Critics question Cal’s probe into football coach’s actions (SFChronicle): An inquiry that cleared Berkeley’s football coaching staff of dangerous practice techniques was conducted by those with personal ties to the coaching staff, thus raising questions about the legitimacy of the report.

6/30 – Faculty wants probe, asks UC Berkeley to suspend coach rehiring (SFGate): The BFA (meaning…Prof. Burawoy & co) have asked the university to not renew a contract with a Cal football coach until that coach’s role in a student’s death is properly investigated.

This & That

6/30 – Op Ed: Napolitano hurting UC system, action needed (EBTimes): Article accuses Napolitano of bungling the Katehi investigation, playing the press for political ends and failing to understand the role of the university in civic life.

6/27 – UC Berkeley spends big on chancellor’s campus fixer-upper (SFChronicle): University has spent $1 million sprucing up the chancellor’s official residence.

6/28 -UC spent $158,000 on campaign to counter critical state audit (SacBee): UCOP spent the money on a statewide campaign to boost its image, an effort at least partially intended to soften the blow from the state’s audit on out-of-state enrollment.

6/26 – Op Ed: How race-based affirmative action could return to UC (LATimes): A recent ruling by the Supreme Court that affirmed UT Austin’s consideration of race in admissions could open the doors for affirmative action at UC should voters overturn Prop. 209.

California Finances

6/30 – A Tale of Two Pension Funds (Medium): Stanford’s David Crane on how untimely reporting on California’s pension system makes it harder to manage.

Also, see the full California State Budget. Brown’s introductory budget message notes the importance of UC to the state very early on. Also, read the California Budget & Policy Center’s deep dive on the document.

A closer look at the budget

 

Media coverage of the budget has focused on the overall increase in funding for UC and the requirement that the system limit out-of-state enrollment. There’s also been attention paid to the funding of a research center on gun violence. Here are some other takeaways from the budget:

  1. An AFSCME-funded actuarial study found that the UC’s new DC pension option would cost $600 million over 15 years, which led Assembly member McCarty to call for cutting that option. McCarty’s plan, however, was not included in the budget. The DC plan entered the picture following talks between Napolitano and Brown last year, when Napolitano agreed to cap the DB plans at the state’s PEPRA levels. Napolitano claims having the DC option, which is easier to take to another job and ergo more attractive, will help UC recruit top faculty. She notes that most private sector jobs have also shifted toward this DC model. Some faculty have argued a strong DB plan is key to retaining top researchers at UC, because it’s something UC can offer that is less common at private schools. Moreover, it encourages people to stay put, as it is less mobile. The actuarial study assumes that 20 percent of folks opt for the DC model once it launches. Also, it should be emphasized that the $600 million figure is cumulative over a 15 year period. By year 15, the DC option will cost $74 million annually, out of a total payroll of $16 billion, the study suggests.
  2. The budget calls on UC to “implement measures to reduce the university’s cost structure,” specifically noting that “at a minimum, the Regents shall, when considering compensation for any employee designated to be in the Senior Management Group, use a market reference zone that includes state employees.”
  3. An amount of $20 million “is included on a one-time basis for student support services for low-income students and students from underrepresented minority groups, including students who were enrolled in high schools in which the enrollment of students who were unduplicated pupils…is more than 75 percent of the total enrollment.” Additionally, $5 million is set aside “for expansion of retention and support services for students who were unduplicated pupils,” meaning students who are English language learners, meet income or categorical requirements for free or reduced-price meals or are foster youth. The budget also notes each campus is supposed to increase enrollment of such students.
  4. A total of $22 million is included for innovation and entrepreneurship programs. The success of QB3 was discussed by legislators in reference to this money.
  5. An amount of $500,000 was included “for the Underground Scholars Initiative at the Berkeley campus,” which helps formerly incarcerated UC Berkeley students.
  6. No doubt in reference to Katehi, the budget declares UC will “review the policies and procedures governing outside employment by university executives and senior management.” The bill suggests that any outside employment should not create any conflict of commitment, “where those are actual or perceived.”

What didn’t make the final bill?

  1. An amount of $6 million set aside “for support enrollment of at least 600 more resident graduate students in 2016-17” compared to 2015-16.
  2. Earlier language stated the state assumes “a marginal cost of $10,000 for each resident undergraduate student” in reference to a requirement that enrollment increases by 4,000 from 2016-17 to 2017-18. In 2007-08, before the recession, the state gave roughly $16,000 per student.

Budget Bill