UC Berkeley

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.

Read the full article.

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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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IMAGE: FirasMT/Flickr

UC Berkeley students and members of the local community casually entered local shops and restaurants Saturday morning to then begin reading the names of “black men killed by police and vigilantes.”

They also participated in various chants and songs.

Dubbed “black brunch,” the college’s Black Student Union stated the protest “targeted upscale businesses as places to ‘stop business as usual’ and highlight violence against black people in the United States.”

The Daily Californian reports:

“The small inconvenience felt while we disrupted businesses pales in comparison to the nightmarish reality of being Black in America,” the [Black Student Union] press release said.

The demonstrators gathered in front of the Berkeley Amtrak station before marching into several businesses, including Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto, the Apple Store and Peet’s Coffee & Tea. Once inside, speakers from the group read a list of names of black individuals killed by police, security guards and self-appointed vigilantes.

Several protesters then took the mic in the middle of a shopping center on Fourth and Delaware streets, including one UC Berkeley student, junior Blake Simons, who read a poem about his experiences with Berkeley police.

“I show my Cal Berkeley ID, and soon he lets me be free,” Simons said while reading his poem. “No ticket, no warning — it’s like he pulled me over just for fun.”

Truth Revolt notes that similar protests took place in New York City and highlights some tweets from protesters in both locations:


TR also includes some tweeted reactions to the protests.

Read the full Daily Californian and Truth Revolt articles.

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The crumbling of the Rolling Stone University of Virginia rape story isn’t the only sexual assault claim taking hits.

On Monday, “Barry the Republican” – the guy who allegedly raped Lena Dunham when they were students at Oberlin College together, had his name – sort of – cleared. And at UC Berkeley, an alleged spree of rapes has been shown to lack one of the most critical elements: victims.

With Dunham, a Breitbart investigation has essentially proven that the only Barry who was a Republican at the small Ohio campus at the time Dunham also attended did not match the description of him she gave in her book – not by a longshot.

A few days after that report came out, Dunham agreed to add a disclaimer to her book “Not That Kind of Girl” that “Barry” is not the real name of the campus conservative student who allegedly raped her, the Hollywood Reporter reports:

Dunham describes Barry in her book as the “campus’s resident conservative” who wore cowboy boots, a mustache, hosted a radio show, worked at one of the campus libraries and graduated in December 2005. The description was detailed enough to cast a pall over a former student who has had to defend himself against Dunham’s accusation that he raped her, according to Minc [Barry’s attorney]. His client not only fits Dunham’s description, but his first name is also Barry.

Minc says he has been asking for several weeks for Dunham to absolve his client, but until he set up a legal fund and threatened a lawsuit he hadn’t heard from her representatives. “Miss Dunham and Random House are starting to come around to some of our demands,” Minc said.

As for Berkeley, a detailed post at PJ Media shows how a series of six reported rapes at UC Berkeley over the last two months are unsubstantiated and uncorroborated:

Suspiciously, in most of the cases the charges were not made by victims or witnesses, but rather by third parties long after the fact. These third-party accusations were made either anonymously or by “Campus Security Authorities,” which includes campus political activist groups. In many of the cases, the actual “victims” themselves have not come forward and may not even consider themselves to have been raped. …

In not a single case have any of the charges been substantiated, nor have any suspects been indentified or arrested (aside from the one case noted above where the charge was subsequently dropped). Very few details about any of these cases have been released by the UC Police, so it could be possible that one or more of these allegations could eventually be proven true.

But in light of the other controversial rape claims recently being made at college campuses elsewhere around the country, including the University of Virginia where a traumatic gang-rape allegation first made national headlines and then collapsed under scrutiny, many are questioning whether or not this similarly spectacular rape epidemic at Berkeley could possibly be a political ploy to exaggerate rape statistics, rather than a sincere attempt to capture and punish actual rapists.

The police have released few details about these “crimes” likely because they themselves have no details, other than impossible-to-verify vague claims made by persons not present at the incidents.

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In a shocking YouTube video released Wednesday, a satirist filmmaker waves an ISIS flag on UC Berkeley’s campus shouting that America is an imperialist nation responsible for deaths across the globe.

Students barely bat an eyelash.

“ISIS is misunderstood,” yells Ami Horowitz in the video as he waves an ISIS flag on campus. “We just want our own state. … America is causing the deaths in Iraq and Syria – not ISIS, not the Islamic state.”

One man who looks like a professor tells Horowitz “good luck,” another who looks like a student gives him a fist pump. Not one student challenged him. Some gave him some weird looks, but that was the worst of it.

Then he pulled out an Israeli flag, and all hell broke loose.

“Hamas is the greatest,” shouted one onlooker. “F*ck Israel,” said another.

Several students openly disagreed with him, told him he was wrong, yelled at him, told him Israel kills kids and is responsible for genocide.

“The shocking video … unfortunately proves once and for all that there is in fact no connection between intellect and wisdom,” Horowitz wrote on YouTube.

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Today UC Berkeley will mark its third annual “Indigenous People’s Day Celebration” – the same day as the federal Columbus Day observance.

The university has for years shunned Columbus Day celebrations, and in the past the campus community has openly protested the holiday and helped take part in the city of Berkeley’s annual Indigenous Peoples Day activities.

More recently, the university has put on its own festivities to mark the occasion, and today will offer performances, lectures and other activities. The effort is a collaboration between several campus groups, including the UC Berkeley department of theater, dance and performance studies, the American Indian Graduate Student Association, and the equality and inclusion department.

But it was not a hatred for Columbus that served as the impetus for the annual campus observance.

The university observance was prompted, interestingly enough, by a controversial Native American-themed play at the campus in the spring of 2012 that some students felt offered an “inaccurate and harmful depiction of Native American culture,” The Daily Californian student newspaper reported.

That historical-fiction play, “Ishi: The Last of the Yahi,” was put on by the UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies.

The Yahi band had lived near Gold Rush territory, and prospectors and settlers killed many, and seized their land and rivers, where they fished for salmon to survive on, according to We Are California.

“In 1871 the handful of surviving Yahi fled to the Sierra foothills, where they lived hidden in the mountain wilderness for 40 years,” the website states. “The last known member of the Yahi walked out of the hills in August 1911. He became known as ‘Ishi’ (meaning ‘man’), the ‘last of the Yahi.’ Ishi lived for five more years and died in 1916.”

Ishi has often been referred to as “the last wild Indian,” and when he stumbled out of the wilderness those decades ago he immediately became the center of attention and study.

“The play, according to the department’s website, explores the life of Ishi, the last remaining member of the Yahi tribe, and his time as an object of study at the campus Hearst Museum of Anthropology with anthropologist Alfred Kroeber beginning in 1911,” the Daily Cal reports.

Berkeleyside.com described the play like this:

It is an entertaining, although deeply disturbing, play, filled with scenes of prejudiced white men massacring Indians for a $5-a-head state bounty, gunfire, rape, murder, cannibalism, and even academic jealousy. But if you are shocked and disturbed after seeing it, (and at three Ishihours long, you see a lot) then … the artistic director of Theater Rhinoceros in San Francisco and a frequent lecturer in the theater department, will have attained his goal. He clearly wants to tell people about this unknown chapter of California history: that the slaughter of Native Americans also happened here, not just at Wounded Knee or on the Trail of Tears.

But the play was met with harsh criticism, including a review described on NativeAppropriations.com as follows:

… Ishi: The Last of the Yahi … attempts to justify the gross violences committed against Native peoples through its portrayal of Ishi as a batterer, murderer, and rapist. While arguably the production evidences some meager attempts to provide a more nuanced version of history, ultimately, the play endeavors to erase not only Ishi, but also all Native peoples, who through the production’s monolithic representation of Native Americans are conflated with the Yahi. When the play is not depicting Native peoples as extinct, it suggests that Native Americans are not “survivors” or “victims,” but instead, were asking for it: “Maybe Manifest Destiny was a two-way street.”

A petition tried to get the show cancelled, and it was signed by 393 people, but ultimately failed to shut it down, according to iPetitions.com.

The department chair of the theater, dance and performance studies quickly retreated from the play’s subject matter after the blow back.

“I don’t think we expected the reaction that we got,” he told The Daily Cal. “We consider that an oversight on our part. We should have been more sensitive and vigilant about the subject matter.”

After that, UC Berkeley’s annual “Indigenous People’s Day Celebration” was created. It’s held inside a dance studio on campus. This year it will feature a hoop dance, cultural presentation, language and story telling, and other discussions.

“Rather than Columbus Day, this is a movement to recognize indigenous people,” a grad student told The Daily Cal in 2013 about the annual tradition. “It’s about recognizing these cultures rather than the defeat of these cultures.”

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