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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Push Back

A student who demanded that UC San Diego cancel a class about Woody Allen because she thinks the director is morally offensive has been told no and given a bit of a lecture on free speech from the school.

The university was responding to Savanah Lyon, a 23 year-old theater student who pressed her demand in an online petition that got more than 14,000 signatures.

Lyon says UC San Diego should not teach “The Films of Woody Allen” because he was accused of sexually abusing his adopted daughter when she was young. Allen has never been charged with such conduct, and the director has denied the allegations.

UC San Diego said in a statement, “The (Academic) Senate supports the right to the continued teaching of this course now and in the future.

“As importantly, the Senate supports and will vigorously maintain the right of all faculty to participate in the principles of academic freedom: these advance and preserve the University as a singular institution for the free exchange of ideas and debate that cannot and should not be diminished by forces that seek to restrict and canalize course content in favored directions.”

The controversy centered on a class that is being taught by Steven Adler, a prize-winning theater professor who has not responded to requests from the Union-Tribune for an interview.

However, UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla was blunt on Tuesday when asked what he would have done if Lyon had asked him to cancel one of his own classes for the same reasons.

“I would have told her to move on and get out of my classroom,” Khosla said. “I get to teach in my class.”

In an email, Lyon said Tuesday, “I am disappointed but not surprised in their decision. I had hoped that the Academic Senate would listen to a student who is advocating for herself and for her peers in an institution that seems to be incapable of recognizing and listening to us.

“But they sided with the university and the protection of ‘academic freedom.’ I will continue to stand up and speak out against what I feel is wrong and I know that there will be people beside me helping me along the way. “

Source: http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/sd-me-woodyallen-petition-20180220-story.html

A matter of good governance:

Asking for more

At a legislative hearing yesterday, students lobbied for more UC funding. Everyone at the hearing was polite. Whether "more" results is another matter:

Students from across the UC system attended a hearing held by the California Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance on Tuesday afternoon to lobby for increased state funding for the university.
About 30 students from various UC campuses were set to speak during the hearing’s public comment, according to UC Office of the President spokesperson Dianne Klein. She said the student-led lobbying campaign is part of a combined effort between the University of California Student Association, or UCSA, and the UC Office of the President, or UCOP, to campaign legislators for increased state investment in the university.
“While it’s the height of irony for students to miss their classes while advocating for those classes to be properly funded by the state, we’re ready to show our legislators that we will hold them accountable for decades of disinvestment,” said Varsha Sarveshwar, the ASUC’s “Fund the UC” campaign manager, in a public statement released by the ASUC Office of the External Affairs Vice President, or EAVP.
Klein said the alliance has grown from both organizations’ shared dissatisfaction with Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to increase the higher education budget by only 3 percent — which is about a $32 million deficit from the 4 percent increase originally negotiated by UCOP.
Since the UC Board of Regents voted in January to postpone their vote on tuition hikes, UCSA and UCOP have created a partnership based on a mutual understanding of the UC’s need for increased state funding, according to UCSA President Judith Gutierrez...
Full story at http://www.dailycal.org/2018/02/21/uc-students-advocate-increased-funding-state-budget-subcommittee-hearing/
When pressed about the long-term diminution of UC funds, a representative of the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) basically said it was a matter of legislative priorities.
You can see the hearings at the link below:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Any adults at UC-Berkeley watching over this?

BERKELEY, Calif., Feb. 7, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Neighborly Corporation, a San Francisco-based public finance technology platform, today announced it is partnering with the UC Berkeley Blockchain Lab, and Berkeley elected officials, to launch the Berkeley Blockchain Initiative (BBI). The BBI will leverage blockchain technology to develop a first-of-its-kind tokenized municipal bond compliant with all regulatory requirements.

Through ongoing research and collaboration, the initiative will seek to identify ways that Neighborly's secure platform can be used to deliver low-cost, tax-exempt public finance offerings that could benefit residents of Berkeley and other municipalities. More importantly, the BBI will look to channel funds raised toward addressing some of the City of Berkeley's most pressing issues, including a lack of affordable housing and recent surges in its homeless population...

By working with Neighborly and the UC Berkeley Blockchain Lab, Berkeley is looking to harness the power of blockchain and the cryptocurrency movement for social good. Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin commented: "Cities must look toward new funding methods to solve their most intractable problems, especially in the face of diminished federal support. Berkeley is proud to once again be leading the way in solving problems through public financing."...

Full release at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/neighborly-partners-with-uc-berkeley-blockchain-lab-and-berkeley-officials-to-combat-social-issues-300595063.html

What could possibly go wrong with creating cryptocurrency at UC-Berkeley?

Keep 'em smiling

How's everyone doing so far? Am I being clear? Anyone confused?
Professors might ask these questions midway through a lecture to get a sense of students’ moods. The scattered answers often aren’t very helpful, if they’re even accurate.
With sentiment analysis software, set for trial use later this semester in a classroom at the University of St. Thomas, in Minnesota, instructors don’t need to ask. Instead, they can glance at their computer screen at a particular point or stretch of time in the session and observe an aggregate of the emotions students are displaying on their faces: happiness, anger, contempt, disgust, fear, neutrality, sadness and surprise.
The project team hopes the software will help instructors tailor their teaching approaches to levels of student interest, and to address areas of concern, confusion and apathy from students. If most students drift into negative emotions midway through the session, an instructor could enliven that section with an active assignment. If half the students are happy and the other half aren’t, the latter group might be getting left behind.
Meanwhile, the "creepy" factor that pervades many new technology tools lingers over that potential. "Inside Digital Learning" talked to some analysts who worry that the superficial appeal of this affective computing technology might be obscuring larger concerns. Others, though, think this tool could be a worthwhile addition to a professor's own emotional judgment...
Full story from Inside Higher Ed at:

Monday, February 19, 2018

Our Presidents' Day Post

Our contribution:

Part 1:


Part 2:


Part 3:

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Dirks

Former Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks is apparently writing a book about about the history of universities. This endeavor may be a continuation of a project that was underway when he was chancellor and delivered what amounted to a lecture on undergraduate education to the regents.*

In an interview today in the LA Times, he is quoted as follows:

While the American university has become the world standard for excellence in teaching and research, it has also been under growing attack. It’s the whole set of headlines from the cost disease, the irresponsibility of administrators, the runaway nature of college sports, the prohibitions on free speech, the coddling of students, the incidents of sexual harassment. … It’s a call to arms for people to step up and … call out the fact that this kind of generalized attack has really been chipping away at any kind of previous consensus that public universities really do provide a significant public good. … A lot of it is a function of our polarized political situation. But I also think it’s because there's a sense that universities like Berkeley are public in name only and they're not really open to the public.

Full interview at http://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-edu-dirks-uc-berkeley-20180218-htmlstory.html
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*Lecture at the link below:

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Open for business

From the BruinUCLA said it has no plans to shut down a Chinese language and culture center affiliated with the Chinese government, despite comments from federal authorities who believe the center expands China’s political influence.
Christopher Wray, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said in a Congressional hearing Tuesday that the bureau was concerned about Confucius Institutes, which are educational centers for Chinese language and culture at universities worldwide. Wray’s comments followed a question from Sen. Marco Rubio, who last week called on universities to close Confucius Institutes.
“It’s one of many tools that (China) takes advantage of. … It is something that we’re watching warily and in certain instances have developed appropriate investigative steps,” Wray said at the hearing.
Wray added the FBI has seen instances in which Chinese students and professors collect intelligence on behalf of Chinese agencies and the government.
Confucius Institutes are funded by both Office of Chinese Language Council International, a Chinese government-affiliated organization, and universities at which they are based. UCLA opened a Confucius Institute in 2006.
UCLA spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez said in a statement the UCLA Confucius Institute provides training and programs for students and members of the public who want to become proficient in the Chinese language and learn more about Chinese culture. He added the institute helps train K-12 Mandarin-language teachers in California schools...