UC Berkeley

OPINION

The co-founder of the nation’s first accredited Muslim college wants you to know that Islam does not become compatible with capitalism “by putting bismillah [a blessing] at the beginning and alhamdulillah [‘thanks be to God’] at the end of a contract.”

“Militarism is not divine,” either: The point of the military-industrial complex is to “stimulate” the economy. And Muslims must be careful not to “replicate imperial structures” even as they fight against them.

So said Hatem Bazian, whose co-founding of Zaytuna College earlier this year was preceded by more than a decade of activism against Israel. The remarks were made to a group of Muslim Student Association members at UCLA on March 11, according to tweets by the group.

The association described Bazian’s message as how Islam “informs us of our responsibility to fight for social and economic justice in our societies despite the stigma of being labeled ‘political’ or ‘radical.’”

The University of California-Berkeley professor’s soothing and stirring words about Islam’s concern for social justice, “dignity” and stamping out “oppression,” however, belie his inflammatory statements in favor of intifada and whipping students into a rage against Israel’s very existence.

HatemBazian2.YouTube.screenshot

When Bazian, the chairman of American Muslims for Palestine, helped establish Students for Justice in Palestine in 2001, he helped start the movement that has successfully pushed divestment from companies that do business with the Israeli government.

He has also grown a curious coalition over the past decade: a union of socialist and Muslim religious activists. Bazian has been active as a leader in the socialist movement as well as divestment campaigns.

Bazian has called  for an intifada in the United States. He was listed under “Writers” in the September 1999 issue of UCLA’s Muslim magazine Al-Talib, which praised Osama Bin Laden as a “freedom fighter” prior to the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks.

He also has links to organizations such as KindHearts, which the Treasury Department said had “ties to Hamas.” KindHearts agreed to shut down in a 2011 settlement with the agency.

Just a year ago, Bazian was accused by a student of forcing his Asian American studies class – subtitled “Islamophobia” – to “tweet weekly on Islamophobia,” according to moderate Muslim activist Tarek Fatah. Bazian told Fatah that students were “asked” to post weekly about “something related to the course content.”

From his position at UC-Berkeley, Bazian has frequently led protests against Israel, most recently in September.

Video from that “International Day of Action” protest shows participants chanting mantras connected to acts of violence, including “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free” – hinting at the removal of Israel as a Jewish state.

Just like the 1960s civil rights movement 

While Bazian has been given a platform by the UC system for his left-wing, anti-Israel rhetoric, the school hasn’t been so friendly to its right-leaning voices.

After being dropped by UCLA for questioning the scientific basis for regulations on diesel emissions, researcher James Enstrom got a $140,000 settlement from the school and reinstatement of his research privileges earlier this month, as The College Fix reported.

Asked about his UCLA talk and the issues he discussed, Bazian sent The Fix two of his recent articles.

One article discusses his perceptions of the Islamic State, while the other puts the founding of Zaytuna College, the first accredited Muslim college in the U.S., in the context of the 1960s civil rights movement.

Bazian wrote that Zaytuna seeks to help students find “spiritual solutions” to today’s problems. He also criticized modern universities for being “corporate” and emphasizing a “material” approach.

College Fix contributor Jacob Kohlhepp is a student at UCLA.

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A group of University of California-Berkeley students known as the “Bathroom Brigade” is occupying restrooms and covering up the gender icons on the doors.

They want to force the administration to more quickly put gender-neutral restrooms in every campus building.

The Daily Californian reports that the group’s notices on restroom doors encourage “everyone, of all genders, to use this bathroom”:

Additional notices, designating the bathrooms as gender-neutral spaces, were placed over stalls, mirrors and towel dispensers, while participants handed out flyers to incoming students. …

“I think the university’s administration has dragged its feet,” said Sben Korsh, a first-year graduate student, in an email. “The campus has known about this issue for decades, and they are still throwing up bureaucratic barriers for providing these safe spaces for students.”

The school argues there’s more at stake than “safe spaces”:

According to Christine Shaff, director of communications for the campus real estate division, the process of converting gendered bathrooms can be far more complex than it initially appears. While in some instances, Shaff said, it costs as little as “changing a lock,” more commonly, conversion is a coordinated effort between architects and building officials, who must consider state building codes and the cultural and religious preferences of the many varied groups on campus.

“There’s all kinds of regulations that make changing the designation much more complicated than changing the sign on the door,” Shaff said.

Um, yeah. Here’s an instructional video on what the gender-neutral conversion of multi-stall facilities might look like.

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The United States Department of Justice wants to know if what your college is doing about sexual assault is effective.

It’ll give you some cash to figure that out.

The DOJ’s National Institute of Justice, “alongside the Office on Violence Against Women and Office of Justice Programs,” has now opened the application process for researchers to obtain grants to study the issue.

The Daily Californian reports:

The justice institute hopes to shed light on newer, more promising methods of addressing sexual assault on college campuses, the proposal said.

The program comes in response to the April 2014 White House Task Force Report to Protect Students From Sexual Assault, which advocated improved understanding of campus sexual assault investigations and adjudications on campuses.

In May of last year, the White House released a list of universities, including UC Berkeley and three other California schools, under investigation for possible violations of federal law over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints.

According to the proposal, applicants for the grant must be the entity with primary responsibility for conducting and leading the sexual assault research.

UC Berkeley senior Aryle Butler, a member of the survivor advocacy organization End Rape On Campus, says that “the DOJ grant is a good initiative to analyze our campus more objectively.” But, she added, if Berkeley decided to apply for a grant, “there should be an additional layer of oversight and protection to the research to ensure that statistics are not deflated or inflated.”

Of course, this is the same federal government that told us one in five women are sexually assaulted while in college, a rather dubious statistic, to say the least.

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Students at UC Berkeley this week held a protest against a professor who recently told his class the Black Lives Matter movement “needed to stop scapegoating the cops” and shared statistics to argue black-on-black crime is the real harm facing the black community.

Saying he was inspired by the campus Black Lives Matter conversation, Professor Steven Segal, who is white, made his argument not only as part of a lecture to his social work class, but also delivered some of his comments via a rap he wrote.

The professor at UC Berkeley – the birthplace of the free speech movement – has since been accused of racism and of creating a “toxic climate for people of color in the classroom,” and a #BlackLivesMatter sit-in demonstration against the longtime scholar was held Tuesday.

“We just hosted a teach in and sit in [over] a mandatory policy class in which there was an instance of racism enacted by the professor,” said UC Berkeley student Ariana Allensworth, a campus Black Lives Matter organizer, regarding the Feb. 10 incident in the graduate-level course. “We hosted a mediation and dialogue to remedy the harm done in the class and [to discuss] how our school can end institutionalized racism.”

Allensworth’s comments were given on a short video posted on YouTube that chronicled part of the Tuesday sit-in, attended by roughly 60 grad students.

The video shows them hoist a sign on Haviland Hall, where Segal teaches, accusing the school of oppression while singing the so-called Michael Brown anthem “which side are you on friend, which side are you on? … We will fight for freedom, till justice is won.”

Segal had allegedly “silenced students who questioned and pushed back on his reasoning,” some students claimed in a write-up of the classroom incident on Social Work Helper. According to the narration in the video, “many left the class crying.”

Some students have accused the professor of making the classroom environment feel “unsafe.” Students too traumatized to return to Segal’s classroom have been allowed to transfer to a different class.

“A white tenured male professor had spent his class period rapping about ‘black on black crime’ a day after a school-wide discussion on black lives matter,” the video’s captioning states. “The professor had a captive audience because all first-year community mental health students were required to take his course.”

Segal has since apologized to his class, The Daily Californian student newspaper reports.

“Working with the students was very productive and I apologize for any misunderstanding,” Segal also said in an email to The Cal. “I completely respect the students and want to continue to be in dialogue with them. I know by working together we can strengthen our commitment to building the best School of Social Welfare we can.”

In a campuswide email sent the day of the incident, Jeffrey Edleson, dean of the School of Social Welfare, stated: “We understand that a faculty-student exchange in one of our classrooms today caused offense and great distress to some of our students and made the classroom environment feel unsafe. We deeply regret the reported incident.”

According to the YouTube video description, the student protestors have demanded “a strategic plan that addresses faculty incompetence in facilitating discussions about power, privilege and oppression in their classrooms … ” and that Edleson “agreed to co-develop the strategy with student organizers.”

But comments about the incident on The Daily Californian website indicate many among the campus community do not have sympathy with the protestors.

“Uh, no, guys. If Segal were attempting to silence you because he didn’t agree with what you said, that would be oppression. It seems to me he was expressing an opinion. Attacking him instead of addressing how his opinion is wrong is a classically weak argument,” stated one.

Said another: “Does anyone else miss the old days when Berkeley and its students stood FOR free speech?”

Jennifer Kabbany is editor of The College Fix. (@JenniferKabbany)

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The Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) Sexual Assault Commission silently protested “certain aspects” of a conference on campus sexual assault yesterday.

The conference included researchers, students and other experts “who discussed the effectiveness of various policies in dealing with sexual assault cases on campus.”

But the ASUC group thought that there was insufficient student participation, and that the meetings were too “inaccessible.”

It also had an issue with the concept of an overall “fair process” in sexual assault cases. During this conference discussion, members lined the perimeter of the room with duct tape over their mouths, and held signs up as testimony to the “insensitive” treatment campus sex assault survivors allegedly had faced.

The Daily Californian reports:

According to UC Berkeley junior Meghan Warner, the commission’s director and co-chair of Greeks Against Sexual Assault, some students in the ASUC were involved in the planning of the conference, but these students were neither involved in the sexual assault commission nor were they publicly identified survivors of assault. She also said that the distance to the DoubleTree hotel, located about 4 miles from campus, and the fact that many students are studying for midterms made much of the conference inaccessible to students.

Campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore said, however, that students were involved in the planning of the conference and that 100 seats were set aside for students. Half of these seats were reserved for UC Berkeley students specifically, who were given discounted tickets at a $20 rate.

Currently, campus policies for preventing sexual assault include the Bear Pact orientation program for all incoming students and Haven, an online learning program about sexual violence, according to the campus’s sexual assault prevention and response website. Students who do not complete these requirements are subject to registration blocks the following semester.

At present time, the university is under investigation for (allegedly) violating Title IX after a total of thirty-one students had filed complaints.

“For (the campus) to act as a role model in this conference is insulting,” said UC Berkeley senior Sofie Karasek, who has spearheaded multiple complaints against the campus and is a member of the ASUC Sexual Assault Commission.

The group plans a display tonight on the steps of Wheeler Hall that “feature[s] survivors’ testimony about interactions with administration, other officials and friends.” It will take place during a presentation by Anita Hill, who back in 1991 had accused now-US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.

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UC-Berkeley campus groups, including the Muslim Student Association, Hillel, and Students for Justice in Palestine, held a memorial observance for the three murdered North Carolina students on Thursday.

Like that seen elsewhere in the country, accusations of media bias and Islamophobia came up:

“The media coverage has been very minimal, they’ve been slow to cover it, and they’ve avoided discussing the prejudice involved,” [MSA co-chair Unis Barakat] said. “The culture of Islamophobia is very important to combat at UC Berkeley to avoid resurgence and protect our community.”

The Daily Californian reports:

Approximately 200 students gathered on the steps of Sproul around 6 p.m., many greeting each other with hugs and words of assurance. The program began with a reading of verses from the Quran, followed by a video tribute from one of the victim’s friends.

Abdi Hassan, co-chair of the MSA, said that despite the event’s gravity, he hoped that the vigil would strengthen the campus community.

“This isn’t a Muslim-only tragedy,” he said. “This is a tragedy for college students everywhere. This affects all of us as students. This could have been any students from any community.”

Unis Barakat, co-chair of MSA, spoke prior to the event and called the vigil a way for the student body to express its grief and support for the victims’ families.

Barakat also emphasized the importance of holding the media accountable in order to confront the issue of Islamophobia.

After a minute of silence, individuals in the crowd were asked to turn to their neighbors and share their reactions upon hearing the news reports of the shootings. Many cited shock, sadness and frustration with the media, while others were shaken by the similarities between themselves and the victims.

Marium Navid, a UC Berkeley junior and ASUC senator, spoke about the events at UNC during Wednesday’s ASUC meeting. Although she said the ASUC has no definite plans, she added that “there will be some type of action.”

Navid said the ASUC and campus groups, such as the Greek community, hope to hold anti-Islamophobia workshops in the near future.

Thus far, there is scant evidence that the killer, Craig Stephen Hicks, was motivated by anything other than anger over a parking situation.

Current evidence also shows that Hicks doesn’t harbor a special disdain for Islam — he despises all religions.

As for the media bias issue, the fact that Hicks appears to be an atheist with a penchant for progressive causes is likely the reason the media was slow — not in reporting the killings — but, if anything, in dissecting his background.

UPDATE: UCLA held a vigil the same day with many expressing similar sentiments about Islamophobia and media coverage.

Read the full DC article.

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