university of california

University of California President Janet Napolitano is the latest victim of Hot-Mic Syndrome in higher education.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Napolitano exited a board of regents meeting last week after student protesters crashed it with “chanting and partial disrobing,” throwing “phony dollar bills in the air” to protest authorized tuition hikes.

Though the audience couldn’t hear it, Napolitano’s mic was still on:

In a university video, Napolitano can be heard telling regents Chairman Bruce Varner: “Let’s go; we don’t have to listen to this crap.” She and other regents left the room until protesters left.

At the next day’s meeting, Napolitano apologized and said she doesn’t “usually use” the word “crap”:

Her choice of the word, she said, was “unfortunate.” But she also asked for “empathy and understanding” in what led Wednesday to her videotaped tart remark she had meant as private.

A nonbinding resolution passed Sunday by the student government representing the University of California calls on leaders of the 10-campus system to divest from the United States.

Now observers are calling on these student leaders to not accept any federal student loan aid, since they despise their country so much. How can they live with profiting from it, advancing in life because of it, if America, as the students accused, is a violator of human rights equivalent to the countries of Russia and Mexico, among others.

Writing on National Review Online, Rich Lowry points out:

Rather than thundering on about what the university should do with its investments, it is directly within the power of students who agree with the UC resolution to forgo all federal student aid, as a step toward severing their own connection to the country they find so monstrous.

It’s a sentiment echoed by many commentators. But as Lowry adds: “Moral rectitude is always much easier on someone else’s dime.”

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Breakoff group accuses leaders of encouraging TAs to teach ‘BDS political position’ in class

The University of California’s student-worker union is taking on the Teamsters by attacking companies that do business with Israel, pitting academics against blue-collar workers.

A group within UAW 2865, which represents mostly graduate students, is also accusing the leadership of violating their contracts with the divestment resolution.

The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) resolution drew support from nearly two-thirds of UAW 2865 members who voted Dec. 4. It calls on both the university system and UAW 2865 parent United Auto Workers to divest from companies doing business with Israel – the first major U.S. labor union to favor BDS.

Though the union represents more than 13,000 “teaching assistants, tutors, and other student-workers” in the UC system, the vote tally was only 1,411 to 749, according to Minding The Campus.

The resolution serves as an academic boycott that would limit “academic freedom” and serve to stigmatize students researching Israel, a spokesperson for Informed Grads, a group of UAW 2865 members opposing the resolution, told The College Fix in an email.

Additionally, the group warned that it could violate their contracts. “The resolution passed by the leaders in July opened with text urging members to teach the BDS political position in classrooms, which violates Article 18 of our contract (that what is taught is at the sole discretion of the university).”

Hinting at BDS teaching in the classroom

While the resolution that passed does not urge members to promote BDS in the classrooms, the group’s spokesperson said that immediately after the vote, UAW 2865 leaders emailed members hinting at more steps to come.

“We invite you to think of creative ways to translate our union’s support for the Palestinian struggle into concrete action,” the leaders wrote, according to the Informed Grads spokesman. Informed Grads interpreted this as an attempt to revert to the original resolution.

The vote “weakens our union by targeting fellow UAW workers and putting us at odds with the explicitly stated positions of major unions across the country,” the spokesman said.

Informed Grads accused UAW 2865 of an “unfair” vote a week later, saying that BDS opponents “were denied equal opportunities to reach members” because their views, events and written arguments “were not published or publicized by the local union in anything other than a token manner.

“The Union wrote and disseminated thousands of words in favor of BDS,” Informed Grads said in its press release. “The Union refused to send members a single paragraph from the opposition.” It has filed appeals “contesting the fairness of the elections,” it said.

Teamsters mock short-term union kids

The California Teamsters, which represents 14,000 UC system workers, excoriated UAW 2865 for the BDS resolution in November.

“As you are no doubt aware, the companies that are targeted by the BDS movement include numerous employers that are represented by organized labor, including many thousands who are represented by the Teamsters,” California Teamsters wrote. It noted that “some of the companies you wish your union to boycott and divest from are represented by the United Auto Workers.”

“Whatever your motives, we cannot conceive of an action more hostile to the interests of our members,” the union wrote to UAW 2865, saving its harshest words for the end: “Unlike the members of your union … our members are working in jobs that must support them for a lifetime.”

Going higher up the leadership ladder, the head of UAW Region 5, which includes California, reminded UAW 2865 in a letter dated Nov. 17 that “the International Union’s previous position has not changed” since 2007.

The UAW International said in that resolution: “Calls for academic boycotts of Israel are inimical to and counter to the principles of academic freedom and freedom of association, key principles for which academics and educational unions have struggled over many years.”

‘Very easy … to make this problem go away’

Katie Fox-Hodess, a spokesperson for UAW 2865, told The Fix in a phone interview that the divestment vote is important because it allows the members to “take a stand in support of Palestinian human rights.”

She said the idea for a vote on the issue first came up during the summer, after Israeli attacks on Gaza.

Asked about labor opposition to the resolution from within and without UAW 2865, Fox-Hodess said the members believed “as organized workers, we have a responsibility to stand with workers” everywhere. She added that the call for divestment came from Palestinian trade unions, and is optimistic that other labor unions will eventually support divestment.

“It’s very easy for these [targeted] companies to make this problem go away,” she said: They only have to stop working with Israel to “violate human rights.”

The UC system said in 2010 it would not divest from Israel.

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

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Students in the country illegally can now receive extra financial aid through California’s public universities under a new loan program recently approved by the state legislature that circumvents federal regulations prohibiting non-U.S. residents from obtaining federally funded student loans.

California already allows many undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at public colleges, and they can get state-funded tuition aid through Cal grants.

“Nevertheless, many of these students remain ineligible for federal student aid for reasons beyond their control,” the law states. “Lack of access to federal student loans presents a substantial barrier for these students to obtain a baccalaureate degree from the California State University or the University of California. The California DREAM Loan Act addresses this barrier by providing access to additional state aid.”

The bill was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in late September, and universities are preparing to offer the loans starting with the 2015–16 academic year.

The interest rate for loans issued under the DREAM program will be the same as those given to students through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, the law states. California will funnel $9.2 million annually from its coffers to support the program, to be run by the California State University and University of California systems. Lawmakers anticipate 3,000 borrowers during the first year.

The Dream program parallels the federal loan system in that students are not required to start repaying their loans until at least six months after ending school.

“Establishing the California DREAM Loan Program will take some of our state’s top students closer to the graduation finish line,” its sponsor, Democratic state Sen. Ricardo Lara, said in a prepared statement.

Lara added that “these students have an estimated ‘gap’ in their financial aid packages of roughly $5,000 to $6,000 at the University of California and $3,000 for the California State University that other students with similar financial circumstances do not have. There are an estimated 1,300 undocumented students attending the UC and 6,400 at the CSU.”

Jesse Melgar, a representative for Lara, told The College Fix the program closes financial aid gaps for undocumented students. Asked how the program might affect students’ incentive to apply and qualify for U.S. citizenship, Melgar said he hopes it helps them, adding “these are people who have been waiting a long time.”

However, the senator seeks to “integrate” rather than “ostracize” the illegal immigrants already residing in California since they are “actively contributing to the economy,” Melgar added.

“Citizenship or not…we’re not going to sit idly by and wait for Washington, Congress, or the president to act; we’re going to take a proactive approach to integrate the talents and contributions of the undocumented population…there’s a lot of inaction at the federal level,” Melgar said.

Other supporters of the act echo those sentiments.

“Thousands of undocumented students have never had access to an affordable education in California,” said Riana King, a state spokeswoman for Young Invincibles, a student group that backed the bill, in an email to The College Fix. “The DREAM Loan Program will give undocumented students the ability to afford a higher education so that they, too, can increase their prospects of earning higher wages.”

College Fix reporter Mairead McArdle is a student at Thomas Aquinas College.

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Judicial Watch Inc. has filed a lawsuit against the University of California Board of Regents seeking to put an end to “in-state tuition and financial aid to undocumented students.”

The Daily Bruin reports:

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Earl De Vries who was a former Republican candidate in the California State Senate, claims that federal law prevents undocumented immigrants from receiving state or local benefits such as in-state tuition for the UC, according to a press release Thursday.

Under the U.S. code Title VIII. 1621, undocumented immigrants are ineligible for state benefits unless the state has enacted a law that provides eligibility for those benefits. The lawsuit alleges that California has not enacted such a law for the UC.

About 900 students at the UC are identified as undocumented as of 2013. The lawsuit estimates that about $30 million is given to undocumented students every year.

The suit appears to face an uphill battle as Assembly Bill 540, which was passed in 2001, “grants in-state tuition for undocumented students and applies to the California State University and California Community Colleges systems.”

AB 540 was previously challenged in 2006, and was upheld by the California Supreme Court in 2010. The current challenge claims that “that those voluntary (UC) adoptions of state laws do not equal to actual state laws that make undocumented students eligible for in-state tuition.”

Read the full article here.

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OPINION: Students dole out little hand towels instead. Here’s why this is a horrible idea.

SANTA BARBARA – Paper towels have been removed from several dormitory bathrooms at UC Santa Barbara as a first step in a larger effort that aims to banish all disposable squares of absorbent paper from campus dorm restrooms.

Members of the “UCSB Paper Towel Free Project” have doled out small, blue hand towels embroidered with the words “UCSB Zero Waste” in yellow to the affected students, who are expected to carry the hand towels to the lavatory every time they need to take a leak.

The paper towel dispensers that used to hang in the targeted areas now sit empty and unused.

The pilot project – launched in the fall and something students hope to soon implement in all campus dorm bathrooms – is designed to help save the environment and meet the lofty and unrealistic goal of the University of California system to become zero waste by 2020.

However, it remains to be seen whether the undertaking factors in the cleansing habits of the average college student – most of whom didn’t even wash their bed sheets all semester long, let alone remember to carry around a towel to dry their hands.

Why don’t these intrepid student environmentalists install hand dryers? Too noisy, according to the first initial phase of the pilot project.

Apparently they didn’t have the budget for super-quiet or low-energy dryers common these days, but they do have the funds to blow on a bunch of Gaucho-blue towels that likely ended up curled and molding in the corner of most bedrooms.towel.UCSB

In an email to The College Fix, Residence Hall Association President Andrew Soriano claims the amount of money spent on the project is comparable to the amount of money spent on filling and refilling paper towels in an academic year. But in this liberal Southern California city of Santa Barbara – in which the City Council recently voted unanimously to ban plastic grocery bags – the consequences of this project far outweigh anything else.

Students are “expected to take it with them to the bathroom when they need to go and wash their hands, and they’re expected to take care of it,” junior Arriana Rabago, an environmental studies major and one of the co-chairs of the project, told The Bottom Line campus newspaper about the hand towels.

Nevermind that nowadays most paper towels are generally made from recycled paper. Nevermind that unbleached recycled paper towels can be thrown away in separate containers then transported to commercial composters.

As for this pilot project, it hardly seems fair that the initial participants were residents of the so-called “environmental floors,” on which students can elect to reside in to be amongst like-minded peers (there’s also a creative arts floor, for example).

One would think that if those presenting this endeavor wanted a real handle on how it would work out they should have used a random sample of average, dorm-dwelling college students.

Here’s the bottom line: taking away the paper towels that some 5,000 freshmen and sophomores living in campus dorms use to dry their hands after they wash them – after they’ve relieved themselves, and touched toilets and bathroom stall doors – and asking them to carry around and use towels instead is unrealistic and – what’s more – unsanitary.

Soriano said “students are given full autonomy when given their towel.”

So what happens when – not if – students either don’t wash their hands because they didn’t bring their hand towel, or wash their hands then wipe them dry on someone else’s hand towel or shower towel hanging around? Bacteria spreads, germs spread. At a campus still reeling from a serious meningitis outbreak, is this really a smart idea?

As a student that lives on campus at UCSB and uses dorm restrooms, I cannot see this project working successfully. This project will cause more harm than good. If UCSB works on better recycling rather than create a project that will have more consequences than benefits, residential housing will be better off.

Thankfully, the committees involved – UCSB’s Residence Hall Association, Associated Students Zero Waste Committee, and Housing and Residential Services – still consider this a test project.

Good. Throw this idea in the recycle bin.

College Fix contributor Austin Yack is a student at UC Santa Barbara.

IMAGE: Maggie Osterberg/Flickr