UC Berkeley

This UC-Berkeley student group’s events seem cursed.

Months after “Black Lives Matter” protesters crashed a forum with gay tech billionaire Peter Thiel, another Berkeley Forum event – on public education and waning state support – got hijacked this week, The Daily Californian reports:

About 20 protesters, identifying themselves as black graduate students and allies, chanted and shouted throughout the event, alleging the university’s failure to accomplish its mission of public good. They referenced hardships for black students, the size of [Chancellor Nicholas] Dirks’ salary and the campus’s decision not to tenure environmental science professor Carolyn Finney, among other issues. …

Amid near-constant interruption from the crowd, Dirks and [Executive Vice Chancellor Claude] Steele commented on the challenges of maintaining a traditional public university mission as state-allocated funding continues to decrease. Dirks called for a student-led campaign to develop a political basis on which the “state Legislature will begin to increase in significant ways the allocation to higher education.”

When “shouting and chanting from the crowd resumed after Dirks and Steele declined to comment on certain questions” from protesters, the forum shut down the event.

All hail the heckler’s veto!

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IMAGE: Michael Patrick/Flickr

The incoming student senate at the University of California-Berkeley will have just about every population represented – except Jews.

The Daily Californian reports that the current crop of three Jewish senators won’t have anyone to follow their lead next year, while women gained three seats to take a majority of the senate.

Two new senators are “undocumented or previously undocumented,” and the new class includes “an officially queer-endorsed senator,” another change from the current year.

Senator Ori Herschmann isn’t worried about Jewish representation next year, though:

“The community wasn’t mobilized into getting people ready,” Herschmann said. “It seemed like there was a sort of apathy.”

But Herschmann said he believes the Jewish community will step up and mobilize next year.

Some believe that because the Jewish community is proactive and senators-elect have reached out to the community, they will find other ways to bring forth their perspectives to the senate.

“The three Jewish senators (this year) were very vocal, and I don’t think their involvement will stop with their term,” said Student Action Senator Tanay Nandgaonkar.

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Colleges that rushed to institute one-sided investigation procedures for sexual impropriety must have foreseen that they would be used against administrators as well as students and faculty.

UC-Berkeley’s Graham Fleming, who resigned as vice chancellor for research last week, is now claiming the school violated his due process when it investigated him for “inappropriately touching” a former junior colleague and sending her “overly affectionate emails.”

The Daily Californian reports that Fleming called the school’s report on him “riddled with inconsistencies, mischaracterization of the facts, … distortion of witness statements, as well as the selective omission of relevant information.”

Fleming was apparently judged by the “preponderance of evidence” standard:

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, [the UC Office of the President] concluded that Fleming “more likely than not” violated the policies.

A news release from public relations consultant Sam Singer, who works with Fleming’s lawyer, said Fleming denied the charges of harassment made by [Diane] Leite and resigned under protest, saying UCOP “mishandled” charges made against him in the investigation.

“(UCOP) bungled the investigation,” Singer said. “Fleming’s legal counsel provided ample evidence that the allegations are false.”

Leite, who filed the complaint against Fleming, left the school under her own cloud:

According to Singer, Fleming was first made aware of the allegations last year, two years after Leite was fired for allegedly violating university policies after she increased the salary of one of her employees with whom she was having a sexual relationship.

Fleming called his relationship with Leite a “long-standing and affectionate friendship” that was never romantic.

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Here’s something you don’t see often: a public feud between dueling groups of sexual-assault prevention activists.

The Daily Californian reports that University of California-Berkeley activists are trashing a statewide group that represents rape crisis centers.

The California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, among others, is backing a state senate bill – which has now been “postponed indefinitely” – that would define a “sexual assault counselor” as someone “employed by” a rape crisis center.

The current definition in state law says such a person can be “engaged in any office, hospital, institution, or center commonly known as a rape crisis center.”

While the coalition says the change is meant to clarify qualification requirements for counseling, UC-Berkeley activists say that’s an attack on rape victims:

Student Advocate Rishi Ahuja said that the coalition stands to gain financially from the passage of this bill and that its promotion of the bill takes away from the choices of sexual assault survivors.

“The goal of confidential and privileged advocates is for survivors to choose the least traumatic way for them to report,” Ahuja said. “What if survivors don’t feel comfortable about reporting to (rape crisis centers)?” …

ASUC Senator Haley Broder said she is concerned that the bill could compromise advocates’ confidentiality and privilege, “which would be incredibly detrimental to student survivors.”

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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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IMAGES: YouTube screenshots

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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IMAGE: Magalie L’Abbé/Flickr