UCLA

ANALYSIS: Opposition to UCLA diversity requirement has been surprisingly successful

LOS ANGELES – Starting today and running through April 10, educators at UCLA can vote over whether to create a new academic requirement for undergrads that would force them to take some sort of diversity class.

The vote on its face may seem unremarkable – campuses across the United States have added such mandates, including most University of California schools.

But what makes this vote different is that it represents the culmination of months of hard work – lobbying, protests and education campaigns – by a coalition of professors and students at UCLA who have taken a stand for academic freedom against the threat of more liberal bias on campus. I am proud to be a member of this coalition.

I am proud that despite calls for professors that oppose the requirement to be fired, and the use of student funds to put on events to support the controversial ballot measure, we have stood up for undergraduates.

And, surprisingly, we have been successful.

The new mandate was initially approved in a 332-303 vote by College of Letters & Science faculty in October. After its passage, a petition signed by 64 professors forced the issue to a full faculty vote.

This is important, as it allows unbiased professors from every school at UCLA to vote on the requirement, expanding the pool of voters to more than 3,000. Voting begins March 30 and continues until April 10. All UCLA professors, current and emeritus, can vote.

Getting this new vote to take place took perseverance – and it also highlighted the fact that there many more on campus who oppose leftist indoctrination than one might think. Student advocates like myself have been pleased to discover that there are a large number of students and faculty who stand against being told how to think.

When student activists, led by Bruin Republicans, organized a protest against the requirement in January, Yik Yak was abuzz with students expressing their outrage over the idea of spending more of their tuition money on classes they find polarizing or that have nothing to do with their major. ucla2

Members of the Bruin Republicans also emailed hundreds of faculty members outside the College of Letters & Science to voice concerns. Professors from the medical, dental and engineering schools, for example. In the emails we explained that not all students are hive minds to the “social justice” cause. We expressed the very real experience that these types of “diversity” classes force a political mindset on students. Many professors emailed back, expressing their sense of solidarity with us.

During our Facebook campaign against the requirement, we experienced some personal and racial attacks from proponents of the diversity requirement, but these attacks only revealed to fellow students the true colors of many of the “social justice” crusaders. Many of our peers came to our defense. We did not convince everyone, but hundreds of comments later, many students who were previously in support of the requirement are questioning its effectiveness.

What started with just myself and two professors has grown into a movement on campus. We now have a full website, www.realdiversity.org, that we created so the administration could not hijack the debate by making con arguments harder to find.

Articles from prominent professors appear on Real Diversity and on the official Academic Senate website, and give compelling arguments as to why the requirement should not be passed.

Professor Schwartz, an acclaimed political science professor who is popular among students, writes that the diversity requirement proponents are “scraping the bottom of the academic barrel” in the studies they site to support the requirement. He states that despite the unsubstantiated studies, “diversity proponents could not find a single study that even purported to show that ‘diversity’ courses cured bad attitudes.”

Professor Manson, a respected anthropology professor, elaborates that “the cited data [in support of the mandate] provide no compelling argument for imposing a new course requirement.”

(RELATED: Mathematicians refute oft-cited ‘diversity trumps ability’ study)

Professor Trachtenberg, a respected expert in international relations, diplomatic history and historical research methods, states that the requirement might have a “ ‘ghettoization’ effect” by “encouraging students to retreat into their various identity group enclaves.”

Professor Malkan, a leading professor in the department of astrophysics, finds that there will be a “diversity deficit” caused by the lack of courses available to fulfill the requirement and a lack of money available to finance the courses.

As the voting begins, I hope that other professors at UCLA will see that this requirement is a political, not an academic, pursuit. I hope that they see that students already struggle to graduate on time. I hope that they see that money is scarce. But no matter the result, one thing has become clear: there still exists a quiet and calm foundation of people in academia that believe in seeking truth and supporting freedom.

College Fix contributor Jacob Kohlhepp is a student at UCLA and vice president of the Bruin Republicans.

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School says it’s purely a financial decision – trial ain’t cheap

Scientific research at universities is supposed to involve inquiry into established theories and hypotheses.

That is, unless they question environmental regulations.

One UCLA science researcher, a 34-year veteran of the school, found himself out of a job in 2011 after examining the data underlying diesel regulations proposed by a California regulator and exposing the shoddy credentials of a lead author of that regulator’s report.

James Enstrom secured victory in a two-and-a-half year legal battle against UCLA last week when the school agreed to settle the case.

The school is paying the “diesel particulate matter” expert $140,000, reinstating his title as “Retired Researcher,” and restoring his access to UCLA resources, “effectively” rescinding his termination, according to the American Center for Law & Justice, which represented Enstrom.

Enstrom had challenged the validity of a California Air Resources Board study on diesel particulate matter and mortality in the state and the regulations that followed. He denounced the research as a faulty reading of data.

UCLA retaliated against Enstrom after he “became an aggressive and lone critic at UCLA of air pollution research,” escalating in 2008 after he testified in California Senate hearings, according to a lawsuit filed by the center in 2012.

It accused the school of initiating “a series of actions designed to silence and ultimately terminate Dr. Enstrom.”

jamesenstrom.DailyBruinEnstrom exposed fraudulent behavior in the studies on which the board relied, including that of the lead author of a 2008 report. Hien Tran “admitted he purchased” a magna cum laude Ph.D. for $1,000 from a “diploma mill associated with a fugitive pedophile,” according to CalWatchdog.

It’s “the standard MO” of the regulatory board to use “unverified studies to gin up regulations” in the state, according to Lois Henry, a Bakersfield Californian columnist who covers California politics, in a column last month.

After blowing the whistle, Enstrom found his position’s funding cut, as detailed in a 2010 letter from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education to then-Chancellor Gene Block.

“Every day that the case continues is a deeper violation of academic freedom and freedom of speech and a more thorough chilling of faculty speech at UCLA,” FIRE said. The availability of an appeals and grievance process “does not absolve you or UCLA of the moral and legal responsibility to immediately reverse the decision not to rehire Enstrom.”

An April 2011 letter from the Academic Freedom Committee of the Academic Senate also sided with Enstrom, calling the school’s failure to reappoint him “a violation of academic freedom.”

In an email to The College Fix, Enstrom pointed to the importance of the Secret Science Reform Act, currently under consideration in Congress, which would require public disclosure of “materials, data and associated protocols” as well as “computer codes and models,” so that results can be understood and research replicated.

Speaking about the settlement, UCLA told The Daily Bruin that it did not target Enstrom for his political beliefs.

It said that “Enstrom’s presence as a researcher for decades, despite his minority positions defending diesel emissions and tobacco, demonstrates” that UCLA promotes academic diversity.

A spokesman told The Fix that UCLA settled the case because it would cost “far less than the legal costs of a trial.” Enstrom’s settlement includes “some other incidental campus services, such as eligibility for parking and email, associated with his retiree status.”

College Fix reporter Matt Lamb is a student at Loyola University-Chicago.

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It’s the Factual Feminist versus the fanatical feminists.

Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers’ talk at UCLA today is expected to be boycotted. She has been accused of supporting “misogynists” and spewing “hate speech” by a campus group called “Law Women of UCLA.”

The letter, written by the group’s public interest chair Lisa Smith, states in part that attending the talk would “lend credence” to Sommers’ views, and Smith urges others to boycott the event.

Smith is upset Sommers denied the existence of “rape culture” and described the discussion surrounding sexual assault on campus as hysterical, among other complaints.

Sommers, whose “Factual Feminist” YouTube videos are wildly popular, is a former philosophy professor and prolific author known for her critiques of feminism, including Who Stole Feminism: How Women Have Betrayed Women and The War Against Boys: How Misguided Policies Are Harming Our Young Men.

Sommers responded to the boycott on Twitter:

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IMAGE: Rob Gallop/Flickr

Last week, UCLA hosted a workshop titled “Undocumented and Acting Up: Queering Sovereignty in the Immigrant Rights Movement” led by New York University’s Cristina Beltrán.

In it, Beltrán utilized “insights of queer theory to analyze the political practices of undocumented activists, particularly those who identify now or in the past as DREAM activists.”

In other words, illegal immigrants should reject the “politics of shame and stigma” and … come out.

More, from UCLA’s Department of Political Science:

While the practice of coming out has prompted various scholars to note the connections between immigration and LGBT politics, I argue that what is most powerfully queer about undocumented youth activism has to do with its dual critiques of sovereignty, state action, and preventable death. Turning to writings on AIDS by Gil Cuadros and Douglas Crimp, I explore the resonances between ACT UP’s critique of unnecessary fatalities due to government inaction and indifference to the AIDS crisis and the mass deaths occurring along the U.S.-Mexico border. At times characterized as less than human, both “homosexuals with HIV/AIDS” and “illegals” are populations whose death and suffering are disregarded since the communities in question “brought this on themselves.”

In the abstract of her full paper, Beltrán goes on to say that “Both AIDS activists and the movement for undocumented rights have an ambivalent relationship to the state that seeks to expose government failure while trying to enlist the state’s resources.”

Which appears to translate to “the government is to blame for our problems, so give us money.”

Some of Professor Beltrán’s areas of research and interest should not be surprising: feminist theory, race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality.

According to her personal webpage, Beltrán has been a frequent guest on MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry Show.”

Read the full workshop abstract. (Includes a link to Beltrán’s full paper.)

h/t to The Daily Caller.

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Conservative activist David Horowitz has claimed responsibility for posters that showed up around UCLA on Sunday that compare Students for Justice in Palestine to “Hamas executioners,” using the hashtag #JewHaters, Jewish Journal reports.

Horowitz told the Journal:

It is part of a campaign that we are waging to raise awareness of the epidemic of Jew hatred on college campuses, like at UCLA. …

You’ll notice that SJP’s response is to lie about everything. They’re trying to accuse us of the hatred they’re guilty of…They claim to just be critics of Israeli policy. Baloney! They chant on the campuses, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Now what is that about? The river is the Jordan, which is the eastern boundary of Israel. The sea is the Mediterranean, which is the western boundary. Everybody knows what that means. No Jewish state…

On Jews at UCLA who complain he’s an outsider making trouble for them:

That’s what they used to say about us when we were radicals in the ’60s. Come on, an outside organization? I’m a Jew! This affects me. If UCLA wants to support, as they do, financially…if they want to support Jew haters, the people who are actively abetting a second Holocaust in the Middle East, I’m going to oppose that. That I’m not a student now is not going to stop me. That is absurd.

Read the full interview, and further background on the campus response.

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IMAGE: Scott Denny/Flickr

UPDATED

FLINT, Mich. – A former Communist Party USA candidate whose weapons were used to kidnap a judge in 1970 told a packed university crowd to “stand up for access to good, organic non-GMO food,” among other progressive causes.

Angela Davis, who was once associated with the Black Panthers and acquitted of conspiracy in the kidnapping, received a standing ovation Friday from the capacity crowd of 400 at the University of Michigan-Flint, with another 300 people viewing from another auditorium, said Pam Zemore, community relations specialist at the school.

Davis encouraged the audience to recognize the “interconnected nature of justice struggles” throughout the world.“

“If we want to put an end to anti-black, anti-Chicano, and anti-Latino racism we will also have to speak out against economic exploitation, against war, against the destruction of the environment, against anti-Muslim racism, against anti-Semitism, against gender bias, against homophobia, and against ableism,” said Davis, whose speaking fees range from $10,000 to $20,000.

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A former UCLA professor, Davis was recently honored in the school’s “Optimist” marketing campaign, as The College Fix has reported. The professor was fired in 1969 by the UC board of regents for her Communist Party USA membership, and after that rationale was struck down in court, the board fired her in 1970 for using “inflammatory language” in speeches.

She returned to UCLA to teach last spring for the first time in 45 years. Davis is currently a distinguished professor emerita in the “history of consciousness and feminist studies” at UC-Santa Cruz.

Beyond food that’s not tainted by genetically modified organisms, Davis asked the enthusiastic UM-Flint crowd to demand “free education” and “free health care,” and to “recognize the degree in which this contemporary racism” in police forces “is inflected with the ideology of the so-called War against Terror.”

Seeing that “makes us understand the really important connections between anti-Arab, anti-Muslim racism, anti-black racism, anti-Latino racism,” Davis said. “If we do not understand these connections we will not be effective in our struggles to eradicate racism.”

AssataShakur.NJDeptofCorrections.WMCDavis described Assata Shakur, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1977 for her role in the killing of a New Jersey state trooper, as a “major hero of the black liberation movement.”

Shakur has been “studying, teaching, working, and being very constructive and productive” since her escape from prison to Cuba more than 30 years ago, Davis said.

“This makes you think about what is this thing called terrorism? What is it they are really trying to capture?” Davis asked rhetorically, answering that “we should recognize that this is a retroactive criminalization of the black liberation movement.”

President Barack Obama’s recent overtures toward Cuba have led New Jersey authorities to hope Shakur, whose legal name is Joanne Chesimard, could be captured and returned to finish her prison sentence, NJ.com reported in December. She was the first woman to be placed on the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list, in 2013.

Davis referred to the Equal Justice Initiative’s new report on the history of lynching in America, which she said is important because “it urges us to see lynching as an act of terror and to think about the domestic terrorism upon which this country was created.

“There has been an unbroken line of racist killings, vigilante killings, police killings since the era of slavery,” she said, arguing that recent “mobilizations” are simply a response to these issues.

Get involved with “communities that are struggling,” Davis encouraged the audience. “We cannot pivot to the center, we cannot be moderate.”

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UM-Flint student Elena Sobrino told The Fix after the lecture that Davis “made a really good impression on me as somebody who I wasn’t really directly familiar” with her.

“I love when they bring controversial figures,” said another UM-Flint student, Thomas Mann, of the school’s invited speakers. “They shouldn’t bring anyone but controversial figures as long as they’re controversial figures of the Left.”

“When you start thinking about race and injustice as far as the proportions of people of color in our prison-industrial system or our corrections system, I think those things have been prevalent the past couple of decades,” UM-Dearborn student Keith McCallum told The Fix. “The fact that she’s here and speaking on it … hits home.”

CORRECTION: Angela Davis did not graduate from UCLA. The article has been amended to reflect this.

College Fix reporter Mariana Barillas is a student at the University of Michigan-Flint.

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IMAGES: Mariana Barillas, New Jersey Department of Corrections/Wikimedia Commons