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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Friday, August 18, 2017

Rank

UCLA has been named the No. 2 public university in the United States and the 12th best in the world — public or private — in the Academic Ranking of World Universities compiled by Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

The rankings, which were issued Aug. 15, use six criteria to measure excellence, including number of alumni and faculty winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, highly cited researchers, papers published in the journals Nature and Science, papers listed in major citation indices and the per capita academic performance of an institution.
Besides UCLA, two University of California campuses placed in the top 15: UC Berkeley (No. 5), the only U.S. public university ranked higher than UCLA; and UC San Diego (No. 15).
The top 11 in order were Harvard University, Stanford University, University of Cambridge, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, UC Berkeley, Princeton University, University of Oxford, Columbia University, California Institute of Technology, University of Chicago and Yale University...
Well, not quite top, but a good tune:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Plan

Apparently, this (below) is the plan at UC-Berkeley in case demonstrations over speakers get out of hand: [Question: Is there one for UCLA and the other UC campuses?]

From the NY Times: After a planned speech in February by the right-wing writer Milo Yiannopoulos attracted demonstrators who started fires and shattered windows, the University of California, Berkeley realized it had a major hole in its event planning.

“We did not have enough police officers,” said Dan Mogulof, assistant vice chancellor for public affairs at Berkeley.

So beginning this semester, student groups hosting large events are required to inform the college at least eight weeks in advance, so it has time to prepare a security plan. For the most controversial speakers, hundreds of police officers will be drawn from across the University of California system and also, under mutual aid agreements, from municipal police departments across the region. Security checkpoints and buffer zones will be erected around venues.

Berkeley is ready to spend as much as $500,000 to protect a single lecture, Mr. Mogulof said, and will do so regardless of the speaker’s ideology.

The new protocol was unveiled on Sunday, a day after a woman was killed and dozens of people were injured in Charlottesville, Va., after a series of white supremacist gatherings at the University of Virginia and in the city. The timing was a coincidence, but across the country, college administrators and law enforcement officials are bracing for a wild fall of protests as their campuses become battlegrounds for society’s violent fringes...

Naweed Tahmas, a Berkeley senior and external vice president of the Berkeley College Republicans, said he was concerned that the university’s new events policy allowed administrators to impose curfews or other limitations that would effectively prevent conservatives from speaking. Some colleges have required speakers to appear in the middle of the day, since nighttime events tend to draw more demonstrators and can be harder to control. The dates and times were points of contention when the appearances by Ms. Coulter and Mr. Horowitz were called off.

Mike Wright, a Berkeley senior and the editor in chief of The California Patriot, said the requirement of eight weeks’ notice before a large lecture would prevent student groups from responding to current events. “I think the university’s desire to exercise control in this manner is going to have the unintended consequence of restricting student speech,” he said.

The policy has been put in place on an interim basis, and the university is accepting public comment on it until Oct. 31.

Berkeley said it was prepared to spend money on security if the event required it. “We’re not looking for excuses to block anyone,” Mr. Mogulof said. “The exact opposite. We want to make sure that we have at our disposal every option to ensure these events are safely and successfully held.”

Richard Cohen, the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that tracks hate groups, said colleges would be wise to not block extremists from appearing.

“We might want to shame them, or think they are sick, but students have a right to listen to who they want to listen to, and we don’t have the right to censor that,” he said.

He also pleaded, perhaps optimistically, that protesters refrain from shouting down or attacking white supremacists, so they would be denied the opportunity to portray themselves as free speech martyrs.

“Don’t give these fools an audience,” he said.

Full story at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/16/us/after-charlottesville-violence-colleges-brace-for-more-clashes.html

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Speech Initiative at Berkeley

Chancellor Christ
(Let's hope the new Berkeley chancellor also has a Plan B along the lines of yesterday's post on this blog.)

UC Berkeley chancellor unveils 'Free Speech Year' as right-wing speakers plan campus events

Teresa Watanabe, LA Times, 8-15-17

Carol T. Christ, UC Berkeley’s 11th chancellor and the first woman to lead the nation’s top public research university, unveiled plans Tuesday for a “Free Speech Year” as right-wing speakers prepare to come to campus.

Christ said the campus would hold “point-counterpoint” panels to demonstrate how to exchange opposing views in a respectful manner. Other events will explore constitutional questions, the history of Berkeley’s free speech movement and how that movement inspired acclaimed chef Alice Waters to create her Chez Panisse restaurant.

“Now what public speech is about is shouting, screaming your point of view in a public space rather than really thoughtfully engaging someone with a different point of view,” Christ said in an interview. “We have to build a deeper and richer shared public understanding.”

The free speech initiative comes after a rocky year of clashing opinions on campus. In February, violent protests shut down an appearance by right-wing firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos, prompting President Trump to question the campus’ federal funding. A few months later, conservative commentator Ann Coulter canceled a planned appearance after the campus groups hosting her pulled out.

Yiannopoulos has announced plans to return next month to spend days in a “tent city” in Berkeley’s iconic Sproul Plaza. Conservative author and columnist Ben Shapiro is scheduled to visit Sept. 14.

The free speech issue drew the biggest spotlight in the new chancellor’s daylong media interviews and welcoming remarks to 9,500 new students. Christ, dressed in blue ceremonial robes, told the new arrivals that Berkeley’s free speech movement was launched by liberals and conservatives working together to win the right to advocate political views on campus.

“Particularly now, it is critical for the Berkeley community to protect this right; it is who we are,” she said. “That protection involves not just defending your right to speak, or the right of those you agree with, but also defending the right to speak by those you disagree with, even of those whose views you find abhorrent.”

She drew loud applause when she asserted that the best response to hate speech is “more speech” rather than trying to shut down others, and when she said that shielding students from uncomfortable views would not serve them well.

“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,” she said.

Although everyone wants to feel comfort and support, Christ said, inner resilience is the “the surest form of safe space.”

But she also emphasized that public safety also is paramount. At a morning news conference dominated by free speech questions, Christ said the February violence triggered by the Yiannopoulos event had underscored the need for a larger police presence. Only 85 officers were on the scene, she said, when a paramilitary group 150 strong marched onto campus with sticks, baseball bats and Molotov cocktails.

Under an interim policy that took effect this week, 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.

Most of the rules already exist but have not been laid out in a unified, consistent policy known to all, Christ said. She said the student group hoping to host Coulter, for instance, offered her a date and time without checking with campus administrators that a venue was available; none was. Berkeley did not cancel the event, as has been reported, Christ said.

Campus spokesman Dan Mogulof said, “We want to eliminate all gray areas … and make sure there’s clarity about what people need to do so we can help support safe and secure events.”

The campus is accepting public comments on the interim policy until Oct 31.

Christ’s focus on free speech heartened Alex Nguyen, a sophomore studying molecular cellular biology. She said she took the issue especially to heart because her parents were born in Vietnam, where criticizing the government could lead to imprisonment.

“I want her to really protect free speech because there’s really high political tensions here,” Nguyen said of the chancellor. “We’re at the university to learn new things and disprove our ideas.”

Source: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-uc-berkeley-chancellor-20170815-story,amp.html

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Yes, and???

We're waiting for the rest of the message.
Yesterday, UC President Napolitano sent the letter reproduced below in response to the events in Charlottesville. Note, however, that those events involved in part the campus of the University of Virginia. There are already reports of similar events planned for California including the City of Berkeley. There is a good chance that such events could involve UC campuses. Thus, apart from urging goodwill, there need to be law enforcement plans in place involving campus police, local municipal police, and the state. (Governor Brown, who likes to point out that he is "president" of the Regents needs to have contingency plans, if - as in one recent case at UC-Berkeley - campus and local police can't handle whatever situation emerges.) Perhaps a further letter to the UC community about such planning might follow the message below.

==================

To the University of California Community:
 
Over the weekend, our country experienced violent and tragic events on the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia. As the leader of the University of California, an institution dedicated to the vibrant and respectful exchange of ideas, I write to you today to condemn these hateful actions by white supremacists and to reaffirm UC’s values of diversity and inclusion.
 
As I stated over the weekend, UC abhors the violence and hate displayed in Charlottesville that perverted Americans’ right to speak freely. We stand in solidarity with our colleagues at the University of Virginia in denouncing this shameful display and with the UVA students who bravely stood up to a crowd bent on violence. We offer our profound condolences to the family and friends of Heather Heyer, to all the individuals injured in the course of peaceful counterprotests, and to the Virginia state troopers who lost their lives. 
 
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution grants us all freedom of expression. University campuses in particular are meant to foster an exchange of ideas, and to teach students how to respectfully approach viewpoints different from their own — even when those viewpoints are offensive and hurtful. But the acts of domestic terrorism we saw in Charlottesville represented an assault on our cherished values of diversity, inclusiveness and tolerance. We must continue to speak and act against the shameful behavior we witnessed over the weekend and ensure that our colleges and universities, and our nation as a whole, remain safe and civil for all.
 
Diversity is a defining feature of the University of California and we embrace it as a necessary and valued part of our campus communities. I believe, as I know you do, that our differences — in race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, socioeconomic status, abilities, experience and more — make us stronger.
 
UC remains committed to providing a safe, supportive, responsive and equitable environment for every member of the university community. We reject all forms of discrimination, commit to fostering an atmosphere of respect and inclusion, and pledge to defend the right to free speech.
 
This summer and fall, as UC students, faculty and staff return to their campuses, I ask that we all recommit to these enduring values of diversity, equity and inclusion, and work to live up to these ideals in all that we do. 
 
Yours very truly,
Janet Napolitano
President

=============
Check out the link below which deals with the U of Virginia which had no contingency plan, and what happened:
http://www.chronicle.com/article/Beyond-a-President-s-Worst/240914

Monday, August 14, 2017

From the UC President

Given the makeup of Congress and the president...
Janet Napolitano: Congress has the power — and the responsibility — to protect the ‘dreamers’

By Janet Napolitano, August 11, 2017, Washington Post

...the likelihood that this suggestion will be heeded is likely
 close to zero, despite some bipartisan support.
Five years ago this week, when I was secretary of Homeland Security, we began accepting the first Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications from “dreamers” who had been brought to this country without documentation when they were children. I will never forget that day: Tens of thousands of some of the best and brightest young people in our country applied to the program and celebrated their ability to live, work and learn in the only nation most of them had ever known.

Since that time, nearly 800,000 dreamers have gone through the rigorous application process and received DACA’s protections against deportation, including more than 100,000 who have had their applications renewed by the Trump administration.

Today, however, our nation’s dreamers face an uncertain future. Ten Republican state attorneys general are threatening to sue President Trump if he does not repeal DACA by Sept. 5. Worse, it seems unlikely that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will defend the program. During his Senate confirmation hearing, he said it “would certainly be constitutional” to eliminate DACA.

As a former attorney general and governor of Arizona, U.S. secretary of homeland security (and DACA architect during my tenure with the Obama administration), and now president of the largest public research university system in the world, I have seen the consequences of our broken immigration system at every level. In 2012, we took a step forward by implementing DACA. We should not take a step backward now. Protecting dreamers is smart, effective policy that ensures our limited law enforcement resources are spent on those who pose a risk to our communities, not on those who contribute to our state and national economies every day.

To qualify for DACA, dreamers must be in high school or have a diploma or be a veteran, among other requirements. They cannot have been convicted of a felony or major misdemeanor.

Wasting enforcement resources to deport such upstanding community members doesn’t make us safer; it does the opposite. That is why police chiefs from across the country support protecting dreamers. And the president of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents U.S. agents working to protect our nation’s borders and which endorsed Trump for president, supports keeping DACA intact.

Maintaining DACA boosts our economy, especially in states with high percentages of immigrants such as California, Arizona and Texas. Dreamers pay taxes. Nearly 55 percent of them have bought cars. Some 12 percent have bought homes, and 6 percent have launched businesses that create jobs for U.S. citizens. They provide a direct economic benefit to our communities and the nation as a whole.

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. Some are pursuing PhDs and have ambitious, humanitarian goals, such as working to cure cancer. They represent the very best of our country. They embody the spirit of the American dream.

Trump can and should continue this program, but Congress also has the power and responsibility to protect dreamers. Republican Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and Democrat Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.) have reintroduced the Dream Act, which would provide a permanent solution for the dreamers. This bill already has bipartisan momentum in the House and Senate. It would allow these young people, most of whom have lived in the United States for nearly their entire lives, the opportunity to continue to live, work and contribute to our country and, after a long application process and additional background checks to travel a pathway to citizenship. Trump can follow through on his commitment to “deal with DACA with heart” by continuing the program and calling on Congress to pass the Dream Act.

Five years ago when DACA was established, I said, “Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner, but they are not designed to be blindly enforced. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language.” For the past five years, these young dreamers have proven that, when given the opportunity to contribute, they exceed expectations. It is time to unlock the full potential of these exceptional young people by making these protections permanent.

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/protect-the-dreamers/2017/08/11/0f052264-7ead-11e7-9d08-b79f191668ed_story.html

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Seriously, let's do a test and see what happens

Testing, testing.
The San Francisco Chronicle is running an editorial complaining about the "perks" that were part of the pay package for former UC-Berkeley Chancellor Dirks. It is reproduced below. The editorial notes that his salary was below average for such positions. The argument, nonetheless, is essentially that his overall pay package looks bad to the public.

Thomas Edison, who you see in the picture, was noted for practical, pragmatic experimentation. If you have an idea, see what happens if you try it. You know that electricity can make a wire glow, but it typically burns up after a short time. Still, if you try different materials and techniques, maybe you can make a light bulb.

So here is a test. (And keep in mind that this blog - including in its post of yesterday - has been critical of Dirks.) At some point in the future, one of UC's campuses will need a new chancellor. We don't know which, but one will come along. Let's form a recruitment committee consisting of Jerry Brown (even if he is no longer governor), Gavin Newsom (the lieutenant governor, member of the Regents, and reportedly the leading candidate to succeed Brown), and a member of the Chronicle's editorial board. All these folks have expressed the same opinion on chancellor's pay. So let them choose a pay package that they think won't look bad to the public and go recruiting with it. Let's see who they get. If they come up with a great candidate, the Regents can approve the appointment. Who knows, maybe there is a great candidate out there who will work for whatever they offer, maybe just for the prestige. Or maybe there isn't. We'll see.

The editorial:
UC Berkeley perks are part of the problem

San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Board, August 11, 2017

Former UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks worried in the Washington Post last week that the battles over provocative speech that defined the end of his tumultuous tenure were “part of a broader assault on the idea of the university itself.” He argued that this especially threatens “public universities such as Berkeley that already grapple with precipitous declines in state funding” and contributes to a “loss of faith ... in values and institutions.”

Speaking of precarious faith in and financing of public universities, it also emerged last week that Dirks will receive the bulk of his half-a-million-dollar administrative salary during a year off before resuming his work as a history and anthropology professor. 

Granted, Dirks’ well-compensated leave is far from unprecedented in academia, and it amounts to a small fraction of the campus’ nine-figure budget deficit. But such perks help make California’s premier public university system look a lot tougher on student and family budgets than it is on its own.

A long-standing University of California policy gives chancellors returning to faculty posts a year off at full administrative pay after five years. Having served about four years as chancellor at a salary of $531,900, Dirks is eligible for a year’s leave at 82 percent of that, or $434,000. He is expected to use the time to attend conferences, deliver lectures, write a book about (what else?) higher education, and make the presumably jarring transition from administration to faculty, whereupon his salary will plummet by nearly half.

University of California spokeswoman Dianne Klein said the benefit helps Berkeley compete for qualified administrators even though its chancellor salary ranks in the lower third of members of the Association of American Universities, an invitation-only group of elite private and public research institutions. And the job is a tough one, especially for Dirks, who besides right- and left-wing agitators contended with budget deficits and a spate of sexual harassment cases. 

A university survey of other institutions found that most provide paid leave to top administrators returning to faculty jobs. The terms vary, however, and UC’s are among the most generous of the bunch. Moreover, the university has granted extended vacations even to administrators who have resigned in scandal in recent years. As a public system under the social and financial pressures Dirks noted, the university should reconsider what it can afford.

Source: http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Editorial-UC-Berkeley-perks-are-part-of-the-11760961.php