UC Berkeley Faculty Association

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August 26, 2017
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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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July 10, 2017
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Comments Off on BFA Letter to Mills College concerning the layoff of tenured faculty

BFA Letter to Mills College concerning the layoff of tenured faculty

Also see the AAUP chapter at Mills College response to the five layoffs of tenured faculty:
“The Future of Tenure, Academic Freedom, and Shared Governance at Mills”

 

Sent via Electronic Mail

To:       Elizabeth Hillman, President, Mills College  [president@mills.edu]
Board of Trustees, Mills College [trustees@mills.edu]

CC:     Roger Sparks, Chair, Faculty Executive Committee [rogerwsparks@gmail.com]
Chinyere Oparah, Provost and Dean of the Faculty [ jcoparah@mills.edu ]

The Berkeley Faculty Association is deeply troubled by recent developments at our neighbor institution, Mills College, including the layoff of five tenured faculty members in violation of professional norms and policies enunciated by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and widely accepted throughout American higher education. While we are in no position to reject the Mills administration’s claims of financial emergency, we still find these layoffs arbitrary and their rationale unsubstantiated. We are also concerned that it seems that Mills is using the college’s financial situation as an excuse to remake the institution’s curriculum with virtually no faculty participation.

We understand that the Mills Faculty Executive Committee has proposed thoughtful alternatives to layoff that might better address the institution’s financial difficulties. We therefore call on the President of Mills College, Elizabeth Hillman, and the Board of Trustees to rescind the layoffs of tenured faculty, to ensure that all changes to curriculum be approved by the appropriate faculty governance bodies, and to work with faculty leaders to devise a fairer and more transparent solution to the college’s difficulties. We also call on faculty everywhere to express their support for our beleaguered Mills colleagues.

Yours 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

Gillian Hart

Lyn Hejinian

Celeste Langan

Gregory Levine

David O’Sullivan

Shannon Steen

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July 6, 2017
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Comments Off on CUCFA’s Letter Calling on Regents to Maintain the Employer Contribution Floor for Retiree Health

CUCFA’s Letter Calling on Regents to Maintain the Employer Contribution Floor for Retiree Health

July 6, 2017

Regent Makarechian
Chair, Finance and Capital Strategies Committee
Office of the Secretary and Chief of Staff to the Regents
1111 Franklin St.12th floor
Oakland, CA 94607

Mailed electronically to regentsoffice@ucop.edu for further distribution.

Dear Regent Makarechian,

We urge you to vote against the proposal to rescind the 70% floor for UC’s contribution to retiree health benefits, as proposed in item F7 of the Finance and Capital Strategies Committee meeting to be held Wednesday, July 12.

This issue is being brought to the Regents as an action item without previous discussion either at the Regents or with employees, including faculty. We have seen no cost models and have not been informed as to the impact this change will have on employee benefits in the near, or distant future. While unionized employees may have an opportunity to negotiate this cut in benefits, this one meeting with the Regents is likely the only opportunity non-represented units have to put a stop to this impetuous action.

It is important that UC continue to offer a competitive benefit package to prospective employees, and that UC be seen to treat all employees compassionately and fairly. It is our belief that the proposed change will have a greater effect on employee morale than on UC’s finances.

Please direct the Office of the President that, if similar proposals are considered at some future date, UCOP prepare estimates regarding the benefits to UC and the costs to employees and present this information to employees in advance of proposing such a change for a vote of the Regents.

Sincerely,
Michael Burawoy,
Vice President of External Relations,
Council of UC Faculty Associations

cc: Members of the committee: Regents Blum, Lemus, Sherman (Vice Chair), Varner, and Zettel; Ex officio members Brown, Kieffer, Napolitano, and Rendon; Advisory member White; Chancellors Blumenthal, Gillman, Hawgood, and Khosla, and Interim Chancellor Hexter.

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July 3, 2017
by Admin
Comments Off on UC Berkeley transitions from spiralist to loyalist

UC Berkeley transitions from spiralist to loyalist

Daily Cal Op-ed, July 3, 2017
UC Berkeley transitions from spiralist to loyalist
By, Michael Burawoy and Celeste Langan

On the announcement of Carol Christ’s appointment to Chancellor, a Berkeley alum wrote: “I took courses in Medieval Literature from her in ancient times – 1970 and 1971. She was a newly-minted professor in English at the time. I remember being impressed by her energy. On the first day of class she wrote her name on the board and told us that it was pronounced ‘Krist’ and we didn’t have to consider her to be God-like.” More world-weary than Berkeley undergraduates, faculty are not likely to imagine our new Chancellor as a deus ex machina.  But can her energy and commitment to Berkeley move us in the right direction?

Last year, on May 3 (2016), in the last of a series of tumultuous Senate Meetings, Carol Christ gave us hope. Accepting the position of Interim EVCP, she began: “Like you, I love Berkeley. It has formed my ideas about higher education, and it has formed my ideals about higher education.”  She remarked that the university faced not only a budgetary crisis but a governance crisis – a convergence she had not witnessed before. It was only a three-minute speech, but it ended with resounding applause and an audible sigh of relief – a sense that we now had an EVCP who understood what the position entailed, who not only cared about Berkeley but knew Berkeley intimately; so refreshing after a year of sexual harassment and its cover-up, bungled attempts at campus realignment, hiring of branding consultants, the athletics scandal and more. Her openness seemed to be the very opposite of Chancellor Dirks’ fortress mentality, fencing his home and building an escape hatch. It had been the regime of spiralists: adminstrators who spiral in from outside, develop some signature project that allows them to spiral on, leaving the university to spiral down. Chancellor Dirks’ signature project was the Global Campus that, fortunately, was nipped in the bud by his resignation.

We now have a “loyalist” in charge. She’s already made a difference. She has been genuinely open to discussion and her multiple addresses are substantive and brief, always followed by detailed responses to questions. But of course she inherits a whopping structural deficit and has been required by UCOP to halve it in the next year.   In telling units to cut their budgets by a negotiable 6%, she exempted teaching and research from such cuts. Still, many departments, especially smaller ones, are hemorrhaging. Programs that contribute to the vitality and breadth of undergraduate teaching are threatened with elimination, while IA lavishes $2 million salaries on current and former coaches.

Christ’s plan anticipates minimizing cuts by increasing revenues, including university extension and summer session, self-supporting MA programs, monetizing of real estate and philanthropy. This is the same strategy that has been pursued for the last 20 years, but perhaps with a difference. She does not appear to be intent on developing pet projects – Operation Excellence, stadium “retrofit” – that promise future dividends but leave the campus reeling in debt. The danger of the privatization strategy is that it costs more than the revenue it produces, and comes at the expense of education and research.

The privatization chickens have come home to roost in another way – the recruitment of outsiders whose role is to cut costs by expropriating control, all the while inflating the administrative-managerial apparatus. The number of senior managers has increased five-fold over the last 20 years, rising to 1,256 in 2014, almost equal to the number of tenure-track faculty, which has remained stagnant while student enrollment has increased by 20%. The recent report of CAPRA (Senate Committee on Academic Planning and Resource Allocation) complains about the demonstrable lack of accountability in the management of our campus, and the continuing secrecy around the budget. They ask: how is it that between 2010 and 2015, the wage bill of the central administration increased by 38%, compared to a 13% increase for academic units? While austerity is applied to departments, the campus administration escapes oversight. Sensitive to this issue, Chancellor Christ announced that the ranks of the administration have shrunk by 400 staff and senior managers will not get a salary increase this year.

Is there an alternative to privatization? We believe there is – see “What we stand for” and the $48 fix.  But all of us can agree that the long-run survival of Berkeley as an outstanding public university will require reversing its wounded reputation in the eyes of the public. The continuing flow of scandals hasn’t helped, especially those emanating from Office of the President.   We have to help ourselves, redefining the very meaning of the public university as one that is not only accessible but also accountable to wider publics. The university has become a political target. It can no longer cower behind its flimsy autonomy; it has to project a vision for society as well as for itself.  We need the Chancellor to be more than a loyalist who focuses only on bringing order to internal matters; we need her to articulate the idea and ideal of higher education as a public good. To accomplish all this, Christ will, indeed, have to be our savior.

Michael Burawoy and Celeste Langan, Co-Chairs of the Berkeley Faculty Association

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February 16, 2017
by Admin
Comments Off on Video of the “Future of the University” Chris Newfield’s presentation on 2/1/2017

Video of the “Future of the University” Chris Newfield’s presentation on 2/1/2017

The UC Berkeley Faculty Association Presents: Professor Christopher Newfield, UC Santa Barbara, speaking on The future of the public University. His February 1, 2017, talk is based on his recent book “The Great Mistake: How We Wrecked Public Universities and How We Can Fix Them.”

Video courtesy of Prof. Jeffrey Skoller, Dept Film & Media, UC Berkeley. Feb 1,  2017
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January 24, 2017
by Admin
Comments Off on The $48 fix: Reclaiming California’s MASTER PLAN for Higher Education

The $48 fix: Reclaiming California’s MASTER PLAN for Higher Education

On Thursday, January 26, 2017, the UC Regents will consider and likely approve their budget for the University of California for 2017-2018. Like the Governor’s budget, to which it is closely tied, the budget perpetuates decades of failed privatization and persistent underfunding–of the University of California and of public higher education more generally. At UC and as compared to both 1990-1991 and 2000-2001, total per-student expenditures for instruction and the State general fund contribution to per-student instruction are sharply down, while inflation-adjusted contributions from students through tuition and fees are 70% higher than they were in 2000-2001 and 135% higher than they were in 1990-1991. Students and their families are paying more and getting less.

It has become conventional “wisdom” that this continuing decline is inevitable and that viable alternatives do not exist.The report The $48 fix: Reclaiming California’s MASTER PLAN for Higher Education demonstrates that there is an affordable alternative that restores public higher education in California.

Some highlights:
“It turns out that keeping the full promise of the Master Plan-returning the state’s investment per CSU and UC student to 2000 levels (inflation- adjusted); eliminating tuition and fees for all in-state UC, CSU and CCC students; and funding seats for qualified California high-school graduates now refused access to the system-is affordable.”

“California’s two-decade experiment in privatizing higher education has failed, as it has failed in the rest of the country. Top-quality, accessible and appropriate higher education that affords opportunity to all California students has been replaced with a system that restricts access, costs students more and compromises educational quality. Exploding student debt constricts students’ futures and harms the economy as a whole. It is entirely feasible to reinstate California’s proven success in public higher education. Several reasonable funding options can be mixed and matched to make the costs remarkably low for almost all California families. Our state has the means and the opportunity. Will we recover our political will and vision?”

This report was produced by the Reclaim California Higher Education
coalition, which includes the Council of University of California Faculty Associations and other organizations dedicated to affordable, accessible, and excellent public higher education in California.

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