UC Berkeley Faculty Association

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September 11, 2017
by Admin
Comments Off on Letter to BFA Members Concerning DACA Students

Letter to BFA Members Concerning DACA Students

RE: Support for Undocumented Students

Dear Colleagues,

Last week an emergency session of the UCB Standing Committee on Undocumented Students was convened. The committee is comprised of faculty, students, and staff and serves as a platform to discuss avenues of support for our undocumented community members. Immigrant students’ mental health and stress was of particular concern.

What should have been an exciting and stimulating second week of class turned otherwise for them when President Trump announced the end to DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Many of these students now fear for their safety and their future, as well as the status of their parents and extended family. The stress has been crushing. The Undocumented Student Program (USP) on campus reports a spike in the use of mental health counseling, a trend that began soon after the 2016 election. Students’ fears and worries have been exacerbated by the general campus climate, including the invitation of anti-immigration advocates like Ben Shapiro and Milo Yiannopoulos to campus.

It has been a trying time for many students, so we write with a simple request – please take the emotional strain brought about by the current political moment into consideration. Our friends at the USP stress that “Faculty Flexibility” is more important now than ever. Extensions, and perhaps a more sympathetic ear will go a long way, especially for students that are now processing the uncertain fate of their status in the country. Many will have to travel home in the following days to support and create deportation contingency plans with their families – all the while handling heavy homework and reading assignments. Communicating this message of flexibility to GSI’s will also be important as the semester unfolds and students brace themselves for the oncoming political challenges.

Now for those of you interested in helping beyond the classroom, the campus standing committee sends the following links in case you would like to donate. At the moment, the USP is collecting resources to finance the renewal of DACA cases ($495 per student) and increase the office’s mental health services. USP is feverishly working to assist and process DACA recipients with their renewals before the looming October 5th deadline, while fighting back to defend their families and communities. Please consider contributing to their program below:

USP: https://give.berkeley.edu/egiving/index.cfm?fund=FU1208000

The Undocumented Student Program provides students at Berkeley with a range of critical support services that include immigration legal support, mental health counseling, and emergency grants.

The following are also programs that could use your support: 

Marco Antonio Firebaugh Scholars

MAFS:  A program designed to specifically provide research experience and writing opportunities to undocumented/AB540 students and are planning to attend graduate schools/professional schools. A gift will help with providing research opportunities, conference attendance, academic and professional development.

Entre Familia

EF:  Entre Familia was established to assist undocumented students who are struggling financially at Berkeley. The fund, started by individual donors to help one student at a time, is now supported by several donors and entire families. Priority is given to undocumented students who don’t qualify for any AB540 or DACA funds. A gift will help pay for campus tuition fees and other financial need gap for these students.

Casa Sin Fronteras

CSF: Casa Sin Fronteras (previously the Dream House) was established in 2010 by Chicanx Latinx undocumented students to help them find affordable housing and sharing food as collective house. The house works towards creating a community of support to help them complete their degrees and continue with graduate and professional school. A gift for Casa Sin Fronteras would assist with meeting housing costs, collective dinners and academic and programmatic support.

 

The Board of the Berkeley Faculty Association

Michael Burawoy (Chair)

Chris Rosen (Vice-Chair),

Leslie Salzinger (Secretary)

Julia Bryan-Wilson

Penny Edwards

Paul Fine

Lisa García Bedolla

Peter Glazer

Gillian Hart

Lyn Hejinian

Seth Holmes

Celeste Langan

Gregory Levine

Colleen Lye

Shannon Steen

James Vernon

 

 

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September 11, 2017
by Admin
Comments Off on To the UC Berkeley Undocumented Student Community:

To the UC Berkeley Undocumented Student Community:

As the Board of the Berkeley Faculty Association (BFA) we write to you to declare our unequivocal opposition to the Trump Administration’s decision to rescind the DACA program. We denounce the Administration’s stated reasons for ending the program and the decision’s unspoken but unmistakable racism. In the wake of this decision, and in the conditions of uncertainty and threat that it has produced, you have our unqualified support as full-fledged members of this country and the UC Berkeley community.

We understand that the Trump Administration’s policies have resulted in increased fear of deportation and anxiety for you and your families. No one should have to live with this kind of fear. We will continue to work to ensure your safety, well-being, and success on the Berkeley campus through direct and visible support for the financial, legal, and other campus resources you deserve and through contact with the Administration, Academic Senate, and individual departments and programs.

We are encouraged by President Napolitano’s September 5 statement denouncing the Trump Administration’s decision, but we believe that the campus community including BFA must pay close attention to the Administration’s follow-through on its commitments to you, including the instructions issued to UC police regarding non-cooperation with ICE.

We encourage you to bring to our attention your concerns and invite you to discuss with us ways that we might work together to strengthen the campus’ commitment to diversity and equity.

Sincerely, The Board of the Berkeley Faculty Association

Michael Burawoy (Chair)

Chris Rosen (Vice-Chair),

Leslie Salzinger (Secretary)

Julia Bryan-Wilson

Penny Edwards

Paul Fine

Lisa García Bedolla

Peter Glazer

Gillian Hart

Lyn Hejinian

Seth Holmes

Celeste Langan

Gregory Levine

Colleen Lye

Shannon Steen

James Vernon

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September 7, 2017
by Admin
Comments Off on Taking a Stand Against Harassment, Part of the Broader Threat to Higher Education

Taking a Stand Against Harassment, Part of the Broader Threat to Higher Education

The Board of the Berkeley Faculty Association supports the following  AAUP statement which was released today, and is also signed by the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of Colleges and Universities.
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In recent months a disturbing trend has emerged in American higher education. At a variety of institutions—public and private, large and small—individual members of the faculty have been singled out for campaigns of harassment in response to remarks they have made, or are alleged to have made, in public speeches, on social media, or in the classroom. Vicious threats of violence and even death have been directed against individual faculty members and their families, including their children. A large number of those threatened have been African American.

The threats are often accompanied by calls for college and university administrators to summarily dismiss or otherwise discipline the offending faculty member. Sometimes the threats are also directed at those administrators or the institutions themselves. In some cases the comments made by the faculty member were highly provocative or easily misconstrued, but in other cases the allegedly offensive remarks were misattributed or not even made at all.

In all cases, however, these campaigns of harassment endanger more than the faculty member concerned. They pose a profound and ominous challenge to higher education’s most fundamental values. The right of faculty members to speak or write as citizens, free from institutional censorship or discipline, has long been recognized as a core principle of academic freedom. While colleges and universities must make efforts to provide learning environments that are welcoming, diverse, and safe for all members of the university community and their guests, these efforts cannot and need not come at the expense of the right to free expression of all on campus and the academic freedom of the faculty.

We therefore call on college and university leaders and members of governing boards to reject outside pressures to remove or discipline faculty members whose ideas or commentary may be provocative or controversial and to denounce in forceful terms these campaigns of harassment. Some have already taken such a stance. The response of Syracuse University chancellor Kent Syverud to calls for the denunciation or dismissal of a professor who posted a controversial tweet is exemplary. “No,” he said. “We are and will remain a university. Free speech is and will remain one of our key values. I can’t imagine academic freedom or the genuine search for truth
thriving here without free speech. Our faculty must be able to say and write things—including things that provoke some or make others uncomfortable—up to the very limits of the law.”

Unfortunately, other administrations have been more equivocal in their responses, in a few cases disciplining the faculty member concerned while remaining silent about the terrifying harassment to which that faculty member has been subjected. Some offer hollow homilies in support of the free speech rights of outside speakers while failing to defend the rights of harassed faculty. Often administrators justify their response by appealing to legitimate concerns for the safety of the community. However, anything short of a vigorous defense of academic freedom will only further imperil safety. Concessions to the harassers send the message that such odious tactics are effective. They have a chilling effect on the entire academic community. Academic leaders are therefore obligated to recognize that attacks on the academic freedom of individual instructors pose a risk to the institution as a whole and to the very project of higher education as a public good. As the AAUP’s Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities stressed, the protection the college or university “offers to an individual or a group is, in fact, a fundamental defense of the vested interests of society in the educational institution.”

We call upon college and university presidents, members of governing boards, and other academic leaders to resist this campaign of harassment by endorsing this statement and making clear to all in their respective institutions that threats to individual members of the academic community, to academic freedom, and to freedom of expression on campus will not be tolerated.

Signed, American Association of University Professors American Federation of Teachers Association of American Colleges and Universities

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September 5, 2017
by Admin
Comments Off on Letter to Chancellor Christ regarding Free Speech events

Letter to Chancellor Christ regarding Free Speech events

This letter to Chancellor Christ regarding Free Speech events was written by  chairs of Ethnic Studies, African American Studies, and Gender and Women’s Studies.

Office of the Chancellor
University of California, Berkeley
200 California Hall

Berkeley, CA 94720-1500Dear Chancellor Christ,We write with dismay to inform you that the Annual Distinguished Lecture in Anthropology, scheduled for September 25, has been cancelled because it coincides with Milo Yiannopoulos’ performance on our campus. This talk was scheduled many months in advance and was to be held at the Morrison Library. The library administration contacted the Department at the end of August to suggest that the talk be rescheduled due to safety concerns around Milo Yiannopoulos’ presence on campus, and the Department has rescheduled the talk for November. We are thankful that the speaker, one of the foremost thinkers in our field, has graciously rearranged her schedule for this last-minute change, allowing the established academic institution of the annual lecture to continue, but it means that she will no longer be able to meet with UC Berkeley graduate students before her talk as she had originally planned to do.While we understand the library administration’s concern for the safety and security of people on campus, we are deeply troubled by the fact that the university is willing to prioritize a vitriolic white supremacist speaker, who seeks to disrupt academic life through his performance, over and above a renowned scholar and thinker committed to thoughtful scholarly engagement. If this “Year of Free Speech” is about giving an equal platform to all speakers, it would seem that it has already failed. Hate speech has taken precedence over academic discourse. This is perhaps appropriate for a concert venue but not, we maintain, for a university. We note that Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos stated, in a recent e-mail regarding Ben Shapiro’s campus visit, that “our commitment to the principles of community mandates that all students, faculty, and staff be able to be present on campus, engaging in their regular academic activities without fear.” Our regular academic activities have been curtailed to accommodate Milo Yiannopoulos, and thus the university administration has not honored its own stated commitment to the principles of community.

We offer this as a stark reminder of what precisely is at stake in vague and abstract claims of “free speech.” What is at stake is the very value of the scholarly discourse we offer to our students and to the world. Last semester it became quite clear that the university administration prioritizes “free speech” ideals in the most general terms over the physical bodies and livelihoods of our students. This semester, at a moment of unprecedented vulnerability for our undocumented students, Yiannopoulos is again being offered a platform and a microphone for his vitriolic hate speech that not only denigrates these students but jeopardizes their very existence in this campus community, in this nation, and on this earth. Before his planned speech last year, Yiannopoulos announced that he would divulge the names of undocumented students, knowing full well that this would put them in danger of personal attacks and deportation. During other campus visits he has directly bullied and threatened individual students; in the case of the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, a student was forced to leave the university due to the persistent and egregious harassment she suffered following Yiannopoulos’ targeting of her during his performance.

It is this brand of hateful speech and the noxious actions it gives rise to that are currently being prioritized over dialogue and debate with an invited scholar who had planned to visit our campus to discuss her work. We urge you to think very carefully about the lives you are risking in giving white supremacists an even larger platform than they already have. We also urge you to consider that, in giving this platform so freely to white supremacists, you take it away from those who engage in thoughtful, compassionate, and respectful scholarly discourse by actively threatening the spaces available to them for such engagements.

Respectfully,

Name and affiliation

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August 30, 2017
by Admin
Comments Off on Privatization increases inequality and reduces the quality of education

Privatization increases inequality and reduces the quality of education

Daily Cal Online
August 29, 2017
Op-ed by | Special to the Daily Cal
Privatization increases inequality and reduces the quality of education

The rhetoric of access and excellence should not hide the exploding inequality within UC Berkeley and the deterioration of its education, both due to the administration’s model of privatization. Let’s start at the top. The UC Berkeley chancellor receives pay of $532,000 plus extras, behind the pay of four head coaches who earn between $573,ooo and $2.9 million. While administrators receive exorbitant pay, service workers on campus barely receive a living wage of $30,000. At the same time, in-state tuition and fees for students come to $14,000, and, given the cost of living in the Bay Area, many find themselves in poverty. So, with increasing salaries for senior administrators accompanying the extraction of greater revenues from students, it appears the rich get richer at the expense of the poor.

But it’s actually more complicated. State funding, as a proportion of the university budget, has fallen from 50 percent to 13 percent over the last 30 years, and the rise of student tuition is usually seen as a way to make up for the decline in public funding. But this hides the funds contributed to an ever-expanding and overbearing administration. Over the last 20 years, the number of senior administrators has increased five-fold, rising to 1,256 in 2014, almost equal to the number of faculty, which has barely increased over the same period (from 1,257 to 1,300). All the while, student enrollment has increased by nearly 20 percent.

Why has the expansion of the administration vastly outpaced the expansion of every other group within the university? The key driver is privatization. While California has its specificity, such as the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, which limited property taxes, universities all over the country have moved in this direction. They increasingly emulate private businesses, importing executives with corporate salaries whose task is to subject the university to severe budget constraints. UC Berkeley chancellors have had their pet projects – the renovation of the stadium, the cost-cutting initiative Operational Excellence, the creation of a Berkeley Global Campus. Each one is designed to make money, yet each one plunges us deeper into debt – from tragedy to farce.

These chancellors hope to make their mark and spiral on, though many spiral down. Without local roots they surround themselves with their own people, also recruited from outside. Former chancellor Nicholas Dirks, for example, coming from Columbia University, brought in Claude Steele as executive vice chancellor and provost from Stanford, and employed outside consultants to brand himself. He built a fence around his home and an escape hatch from his office, shoring up a fortress mentality.

Separating themselves from the campus, such “spiralists” set about appropriating control from the traditional campus rulers – faculty and faculty who become administrators. Gradually this new executive class begins to dictate terms to the practitioners of teaching and research. This can lead to struggles in which the faculty resist or even contribute to ejecting the chancellor and their entourage, as happened to chancellor Dirks. More often, though, faculty have every interest in complying. To maintain their claim to lead a “world-class” university, the new executives have to hold onto their most distinguished faculty and prevent them from being cherry-picked by private universities. To this end, the new corporate regime co-opts the faculty, protecting their salaries and sometimes even reducing their teaching loads However, they simultaneously divide the faculty, as newcomers have poorer pensions, and conditions in the professional schools are very different from the humanities.

The détente is only possible if exploitation is pushed down the ladder and a new class of faculty – contingent professionals – is created to absorb the extra teaching. For every new assistant professor, roughly two lecturers can be appointed for the same price, each of whom teaches twice as much as a tenure-system faculty member. Moreover, they can be hired and fired almost at will as budgetary circumstances demand.

In the country at large, over the last 40 years, the proportion of tenure track to non-tenure track faculty has shifted from 57:43 percent to 34:66 percent. Here at Berkeley we are behind the curve, tenure-track faculty still outnumber lecturers, and conditions for lecturers are superior to most other public universities. Still, they are treated as second class citizens even though they may be outstanding instructors.

The broad national shift has repercussions for a third group – graduate students are recruited in fewer numbers as there are fewer tenure-track positions. They come to realize that they have a two-track future, and so competition for publications intensifies and teaching takes a back seat. The inevitable result: the deterioration of undergraduate education that is so dependent on graduate student face-to-face instruction – fewer courses with teaching assistants, more students in each section. The profligate executive class thus pushes the costs down to the most vulnerable.

Our new Chancellor is an experienced administrator, recruited from within: a loyalist rather than a spiralist. But what difference does it make? Chancellor Carol Christ is pursuing the same privatization program of her predecessors, albeit with more rationality and prudence. Though she exempts certain academic expenditures from cuts, such as faculty salaries, slashing department budgets inevitably erodes the quality of undergraduate education as does the creation of self-supporting master’s programs that absorb faculty time and resources.

We are told there is no alternative. But actually there is: the campaign to Reclaim California’s Master Plan for Higher Education, the “$48 fix.” With a tax that would cost families with a median income only $48 a year, the state funding of higher education could be restored to the level of the year 2000. But this would require convincing Californians that we are worth it. Here lies the paradox: the privatization strategy has been a public relations disaster. The news from UC Berkeley is botched handling of sexual harassment cases (to protect the brand), recruiting out-of-state and foreign students instead of California’s own children (to increase revenue); and various forms of petty corruption (in imitation of real executives). The recent audit of the UC Office of the President has been no less damaging to the image of UC.

It is time to turn the tables on the administration, subjecting it to austerity and surveillance. Then, and only then, can we begin to turn the ship around, win back support for the public university as not only promoting access and excellence but also guaranteeing accountability to the communities it serves within and beyond California.

Michael Burawoy is chair of the Berkeley Faculty Association and a professor of sociology at UC Berkeley.

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August 26, 2017
by Admin
Comments Off on Post-Charlottesville Statement

Post-Charlottesville Statement

The UC Council of Faculty Associations (CUCFA), of which the Berkeley Faculty Association is a member, has issued this statement and set of recommendations in response to the tragic recent events in Charlottesville.

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Statement

The events and aftermath of Charlottesville have revealed the disturbing connection between Alt-Right rhetoric of violence and the very real violence perpetrated by white supremacist groups. This situation bears dangerous parallels with the way fascist movements came to power in 20th-century Europe. Historically, fascism takes root in the public demand for a strong government to restore order following the unrest and violence provoked by ultra nationalist organizations precipitating violent confrontations with antifascist forces. President Trump’s irresponsible and incorrect assertion of a “two-sided” violence has set the stage for a likely reaction by anarchy-inspired groups at the next provocation or implementation of violence by the Alt-Right / white supremacist front. This reaction, in turn, would allow the Trump government to present itself as the ‘neither left nor right’ party of order and security.

Knowing that university campuses are the likely sites for violence to erupt, it is tempting to call for suppressing the right to speak of any element connected with the Alt-Right movement. CUCFA disagrees. We reaffirm our unfettered commitment to free speech, and the proposition that universities cannot discriminate among speakers on the basis of the content of their speech. At the same time, we support denying permission to speak on campus if the speaker or those organizing the speech incite explicitly and/or pose a clear threat of violence.[1]

Recommendations

CUCFA endorses the recent AAUP statement, and UC President Napolitano’s letter in the wake of the tragic events in Charlottesville.  We invite them — and the entire higher education community  — to also denounce more explicitly the connection among the Alt-Right appropriation of ‘free speech’ rhetoric to provoke violent confrontation, white supremacist violence, and the proto-fascist narrative of equivalence between left and right being spun by the Trump administration.

To counter this worrisome state of affairs, CUCFA further recommends that UCOP make public its criteria for determining and countering a clear threat of violence on the part of outside speakers, and institute an “Outside Speakers’ Commission”—with representatives of the UC faculty Senate, students, campus police, UC lawyers, and other possible stakeholders—in charge of reviewing and publicly discussing these criteria, and, if necessary, of updating them, or developing new ones which would pay particular attention and respond to the following concerns:

  1. What constitutes evidence of a clear threat of violence brought by a speaker or the organizers of a speaking event?
  2. If necessary, should the cost of extra police protection be borne by the University or the association asking for a certain speaker to be allowed to speak on campus?
  3. Should restrictions be passed to what protesters can hold in their hands (i.e. clubs, batons, etc…) entering any UC campus?

Lastly, recognizing the appealing status of all UC campuses as targets for Alt-Right provocations, CUCFA invites UCOP to publicize as soon and as widely as possible among students and faculty the “Ten Ways to Fight Hate Guide” released by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).


[1] The decision by Michigan State and Louisiana State on August 18 to deny white supremacist leader Richard Spencer permission to speak there is an example of an appropriate response.

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