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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Wednesday, July 10, 2019
American Society of Pediatrics
Dear President Bollinger, Dr. Halliday, and Dr. Redlener,

We, the undersigned members of the Columbia community, are disturbed to learn that the University has a contract with the Customs and Border Protection, the arm of the US Dept. of Homeland Security that is on the front line of this Administration’s policy of “zero tolerance” and detention of migrants and asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border.

The contract is with the Earth Institute’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness to develop for the CBP “a standardized, but basic health-screening tool to help determine whether a child might need urgent medical attention” and other medical protocols.

We beg to differ with the rationale for this contract, that “the federal agencies responsible for apprehending and assuming custody of people crossing the borders illegally are beyond overwhelmed” and that “much-maligned (often unfairly) Border Patrol agents, with essentially no medical training whatsoever, are doing a thankless job.” (ibid)

The crisis at the border and in CBP detention facilities is entirely of this administration’s making. It is the desired outcome of a deliberate policy to inflict bodily and psychic harm on asylum seekers, adults and children alike, under the guise of “deterrence.” CBP continues to separate children and infants from their parents. It confiscates migrants’ clothing, toothbrushes, and medicines when they are placed in detention. Migrants have inadequate access to water and food. The camps are kept at 55 degrees and lights are kept on 24 hours a day. Migrants must sleep on concrete floors; many cannot even do this, as the cells are so crowded as to be standing-room only. According to some observers, the horrific conditions in these facilities meet the legal definition of torture.

Some may argue that it is possible to do a small good in the context of a large evil. Perhaps contributing professional services to the CBP to alleviate suffering is an appropriate response to this crisis. We do not believe it is possible to provide such services under the aegis of CBP because the administration in general, and CBP in particular, has created this crisis in the first place. Well-intentioned actions clash with the agency’s mandate to implement an inhumane policy and its toxic culture. Worse, such actions may legitimate the CBP, which has no interest in attending to the medical needs of migrants. Legal advocates (including Columbia law professor Elora Mukherjee) have gone to court to gain access for independent doctors and a public health expert at the CBP facilities along the border. Notably, John Sandler, the acting director of the CBP, who reportedly reached out to Columbia to develop a screening tool, resigned on June 25 amidst outcry over conditions in detention camps. DHS's inspector general report (July 2) corroborate findings of independent monitors.

There are many ways for us to positively assist migrants in this crisis. Columbia faculty and students have provided independent translation, legal, and medical services at the border and elsewhere for migrants and asylum seekers. Columbia Law School's immigration clinic and Medical School's asylum clinic are two institutional venues that have responded to the current crisis. But we believe the University should have nothing to do with Customs and Border Patrol. Contracting with CBP is at odds with Columbia’s ethics, which led the University to divest from private prison and detention contractors. Regardless of good intentions, the CBP contract is a stain on our conscience and reputation as an institution that upholds human rights and ethical practices. We cannot work for concentration camps. We demand that Columbia cancel its contract with the CBP.



  Mae Ngai
Faculty History


  Nara Milanich
Faculty History, Barnard


  Shamus Khan
Faculty Chair, Sociology


  Dhananjay Jagannathan
Faculty Department of Philosophy


  Anupama Rao
Faculty History, Barnard College and


  Michael Harris
Faculty Mathematics


  Karen Van Dyck
Faculty Classics Department


  Susan Bernofsky
Faculty School of the Arts


  Michael Thaddeus
Faculty Department of Mathematics


  Nico Baumbach
Faculty Associate Professor, Film/School
  of Arts


  Jane M Spinak
Faculty Columbia Law School


  Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi
Faculty Barnard College Department of


  Naor Ben-Yehoyada
Faculty Anthropology


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Faculty Visual Arts, School of the Arts


Faculty English and Comparative Literature


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Faculty Institute for the Study of Human


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Faculty English and Comparative Literature


  Gauri Viswanathan
Faculty English and Comparative Literature


  Jessica Collins
Faculty Philosophy


  J.C. Salyer
Faculty Department of Anthropology &
  Director of the Human Rights Program, Barnard


  Herb Sloan
Faculty Professor Emeritus, Department of
  History, Barnard


  Brent Hayes Edwards
Faculty Department of English and
  Comparative Literature


  Todd Gitlin
Faculty Journalism and Sociology


  Gil Anidjar
Faculty Religion / MESAAS


Faculty Dept. of Germanic Languages, ICLS


  Courtney Bender
Faculty Department of Religion


  Katharina Pistor
Faculty Law School


  Jack Halberstam
Faculty English and IRWGS


  Joseph Slaughter
Faculty English and Comparative
  Literatures, Institute for the Study of Human Rights


Faculty Barnard College


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Faculty Department of Classics, Barnard


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Faculty Department of Anthropology


  Vanessa Agard-Jones
Faculty Anthropology


  Reinhold Martin
Faculty Architecture


  Rhiannon Stephens
Faculty History, A&S


  Sheldon Pollock
Faculty MESAAS


  Lila Abu-Lughod
Faculty Anthropology and IRWGS, Columbia


  James Schamus
Faculty School of the Arts


  Janet Jakobsen
Faculty Women's, Gender and Sexuality
  Studies, Barnard College


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Faculty School of the Arts Writing Program


  Claudia Breger
Faculty Germanic Lang and Lit


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Faculty MSPH


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Faculty Department of History


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Faculty Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman
  School of Public Health


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  American Studies Department, Center for Jazz Studies


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Faculty Anthropology


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Faculty Barnard College


  Christy Thornton
Alumni BC 02, SIPA 03, Assistant
  Professor Johns Hopkins


  Paige West
Faculty Claire Tow Professor of
  Anthropology; Director, Center for Study of Social Difference


  Ralph Ghoche
Faculty Department of Architecture,
  Barnard College


  Jean Howard
Faculty Arts and Sciences


  Branden W Joseph
Faculty Art HIstory


  Molly Murray
Faculty Department of English and
  Comparative Literature


  Manisha Sinha
Alumni University of Connecticut


  Helen Weng, PhD
Alumni CC '04


  Sybill Chen
Student History


  Angela Aidala
Faculty SMS/ MSPH


  Andrew Liu
Alumni GSAS, History


  Julian Brave NoiseCat
Alumni Columbia College


  Audra Simpson
Faculty Department of Anthropology


  Lydia H. Liu
Faculty East Asian Languages &
  Cultures/Institute for Comparative Literature & Society


  Marie Myung-Ok Lee
Faculty School of the Arts + Center for
  the Study of Race & Ethnicity (CSER)


  Carly Goodman, Ph.D.


  Armando Lozano
Alumni CC, LAW


  Patricia Dailey
Faculty English and Comp Lit


  Daniel Morales
Alumni History Department


  Tovah Klein, PhD
Faculty Director, Toddler Center, Barnard


  John C Stoner
Alumni History, University of Pittsburgh


  Glenn Adler
Alumni GSAS/Political Science


  Ellie Hisama
Faculty Department of Music


  Timothy Patrick McCarthy
Alumni PhD, History, IRAAS


  Anne Goodwin
Non-Columbia affiliate Affordable Power and Justice


  Katrine Jensen
Staff Council for European Studies


  Steven Sherman
Alumni Columbia College '86


  Farina Mir
Alumni GSAS 2002


Alumni School of international and public


  Michael Bernhard
Alumni PhD 1988, Ehrlich Professor of
  Political Science University of Florida


  Michael Pollak
Alumni GSAS Sociology


  Anna Danziger Halperin
Alumni GSAS '18


  Melissa Morris
Alumni GSAS


  Pablo Piccato
Faculty History


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Non-Columbia affiliate Horrified U.S. Citizen


  Deborah Eisenberg
Faculty School of the Arts


  Margaret E. Keck
Alumni GSAS Political Science


  Ian Shin
Alumni GSAS '16


  leah dworkin
Alumni school of the arts


  Lisa Brunet, Ph.D.
Alumni GSAS


  Premilla Nadasen
Faculty History


  Alexander Alberro
Faculty Art History


  Kurt Mettenheim
Alumni Political Science - SIPA


  Emmanuelle Saada
Faculty Professor of French & Carnoy
  Family Program Chair of Contemporary Civilization


  Elizabeth Hutchinson
Faculty Art History and Archaeology


  Tom Kalin
Faculty Professor, Columbia University
  School of the Arts, Film


  Deborah Valenze
Faculty Barnard College


  Judith Byfield
Alumni GSAS (History) 1993


  Penny Von Eschen
Alumni William R. Kennan, Jr. Professor
  of American Studies /History, University of Virginia


  An Kint
Alumni GSAS


  Monika Nalepa
Faculty Political Science, The University
  of Chicago


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Faculty Department of Music


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Faculty History Department


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Faculty LAIC, Columbia


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Faculty MESAAS


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Faculty Anthropology


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Faculty Professor & Chair, Department
  of Asian & Middle Eastern Cultures, Barnard; CC '86


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Student History, GSAS


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Faculty MESAAS


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Faculty History


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Staff RBML


Alumni GSAS Political Science


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Faculty Anthropology


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Alumni Columbia Business School, MBA 1993


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Faculty Former Acting and Assistant
  Director, Columbia Oral History Research Office


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Faculty History


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Faculty Herbert Lehman Professor of
  Government and Professor of Anthropology


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Student History, GSAS


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Faculty R Gordon Hoxie Professor of


  Sahar Bostock
Student History, GSAS


  Jane Leftwich Curry
Alumni Department of Political Science


  Celia E. Naylor
Faculty History and Africana Studies,
  Barnard College


  Alice Nash
Alumni History Ph.D.1997


  Joseph Howley
Faculty Department of Classics


  Mariana Katz
Student PhD Student, History Department


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Alumni GSAS


  Bailey yellen
Student GSAS


  Jennifer Wenzel
Faculty Dept. of English & Comparative
  Literature; MESAAS


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Faculty Barnard College


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Faculty Classics Department


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Alumni CC17


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Faculty Sociology


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Faculty History, Barnard College


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Alumni GS 16’


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Faculty Law School


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Faculty Zuckerman Institute


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Faculty Anthropology


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Student Neurobiology and Behavior program


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Staff Center for the Study of Ethnicity
  and Race


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Alumni Columbia College


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Faculty Graduate Program in Narrative


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Alumni Barnard College, Class of 2017


  Juan Gonzalez
Alumni CC


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Alumni Psychology


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Faculty Philosophy


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Alumni Columbia College ‘17


  Silvia Bernardi
Faculty Psychiatry


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Faculty History Department


  Daniela Rodriguez


  Alejandro P Desince
Alumni CC ‘18


  Elizabeth Castelli
Faculty Religion, Barnard College


  Romeo Guzman
Alumni History, PhD


  Amanda Hardin
Student History


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Student Dept. of Classics


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Alumni SIPA


  Eliza Zingesser
Faculty French


  Jennifer Scribner
Student Neurobiology & Behavior


  Jane E Turk
Alumni Communications, GSAS


  Dr. Benjamin Weiss
Alumni Columbia College '05


  Maria Victoria Murillo
Faculty GSAS & SIPA


Faculty Women’s, Gender and Sexuality
  Studies, Barnard College


  Rebecca E Karl
Alumni Professor, History Department, NYU


  Matthew Haugen
Staff Libraries


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  and Sciences


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Alumni School of social work


  Jonathan Beller
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Alumni GSAS, Classical Studies


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Alumni Columbia College


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Student History PhD program


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Alumni Mailman School of Public Health


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Alumni Business 1997, Arts & Sciences


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Student Graduate School of Arts and
  Sciences, EALAC


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Student EALAC


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Alumni Film and Media Studies MA


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Student GSAS History (PhD)


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Alumni School of the Arts


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Faculty Teachers College and Department of


  Lisa Tiersten
Faculty Barnard College, History


  Cooper Lynn
Alumni Institute of Comparative


  Dorothea von Mücke
Faculty Gebhard Professor of German
  Language & Literature, Dept of Germanic Languages


  Daniel Friedrich
Faculty Teachers College, Dept. Of
  Curriculum and Teaching


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Student Teachers College


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Alumni Mailman School of Public Health


  Jennifer Lena
Faculty Teachers College


  Yasemin Akcaguner
Student GSAS History


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Student Department of Germanic Languages


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Student Philosophy, GSAS


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Student Teachers College


  Zainab Bahrani
Faculty Art History and Archaeology


  Karen Seeley
Faculty Anthropology


  Carla Stockton
Alumni G.S. and School of the Arts


  Adam Kosto
Faculty History


  howard greenberg
Alumni school of the arts


  Vera A Nazarian
Alumni School of Arts and Science


  Robert Fuller
Student Teachers College


  Jordan Corson
Student Teachers College


  Jessica Reyna
Student Barnard College ‘16; Columbia
  School of Social Work ‘22


  Silja Weber
Faculty Germanic Languages


  Lynne Guillot
Alumni School of the Arts


  Neil Ziolkowski
Student Germanic Languages


  Marc Van De Mieroop
Faculty History department


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Alumni Barnard College


  Rober Jack Gross
Alumni Institute for Comparative
  Literature and Society


  Inderpal Grewal
Non-Columbia affiliate Yale University


  Ann Douglas
Faculty English and Comparative Literature


  Nick Juravich
Alumni Columbia GSAS (History)


  Wendy Chavkin
Faculty Mailman


  Mary Beth Terry
Faculty Epidemiology


  Rick Moody
Alumni School of the Arts


  Frank Guridy
Faculty History & African American
  African Diaspora Studies


Faculty Teachers College


  Jacqueline Siapno
Non-Columbia affiliate Independent Researcher and Former
  Acting First Lady, East Timor (Timor Leste)


  Rosana Koundakjian
Alumni GSAS ‘90


  Casey N. Blake
Faculty History and American Studies


  Dialika Sall
Student GSAS


  Vahe Habeshian
Alumni GS


  Rebecca Jordan-Young
Faculty WGSS, Barnard College


  Donna Medel
Alumni Columbia College


  Karen Ramirez
Alumni Columbia College


  Robert Tiburzi
Alumni College


  Bruce Robbins
Faculty English and Comparative Literature


  Ira Katznelson
Faculty Political Science and History


  María Fernanda Martínez
Alumni Columbia College


  Ayten Gundogdu
Faculty Political Science, Barnard College


  Victoria de Grazia
Faculty History Department


  Gregory Mann
Faculty History


  E. Mara Green
Faculty Anthropology


  Macayla Donegan
Student Neuroscience


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  Meredith Gamer
Faculty Department of Art History and


Faculty MESAAS


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Student Graduate School of Arts and


  Jessica Bulman-Pozen
Faculty Law School


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Faculty Architecture, Barnard College


  Samantha Van Doran
Student Graduate School of Arts and


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Student History


  Bette Gordon
Faculty School of the Arts/Film


Faculty Psychology, Barnard College


  Jessica Collins
Faculty Associate Professor, Department of


  Gwendolyn Wright
Faculty Graduate School of Architecture,
  Planning and Preservation


  Madeleine Zelin
Faculty EALAC and History


  Mary Nolan
Alumni GSAS History


  Alan Stewart
Faculty English and Comparative Literature


  Kimi Traube
Alumni CC, SOA


  Kim Fader
Staff Epidemiology, Mailman School of
  Public Health


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Faculty Barnard College


Non-Columbia affiliate Ball State University


  Michael Perles
Alumni GSAPP, 2016


  Mohamed Kouta
Student GSAS


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Student GSAS


  Áine McLaughlin
Non-Columbia affiliate University of Maryland student


  Jonathan Slater
Student GSAS


  Stefan Andriopoulos
Faculty Germanic Languages


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Faculty Art History


  Chloe Vaughn
Student Germanic Languages (GSAS)


  Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Faculty University Professor, Columbia
Posted by Michael Meranze | Comments: 0

Friday, July 5, 2019

Friday, July 5, 2019
John Warner describes the catastrophic cuts to the University of Alaska as a swan song. The term suggests the end of a model, with a new model to follow. It's easy to be pessimistic about this.  Two economists from the UA-Fairbanks campus do a good job of telling Washington Post readers about the cuts' fiscally-unnecessary destruction. But they sound resigned.

We may default to the idea that an anti-government era is dying, but the new one is helpless to be born.  In fact, the new era is here, but we aren't giving it the help it needs to emerge.

That help includes recognizing that the 41 percent cut to the Alaska university system comes from a political script developed in the 1970s and perfected in the 1980s.  The script is a classic: the candidate buys votes by promising to give away public money.  Two 1970s and 1980s innovations were especially important.  First was the Reaganite claim that the real corruption was to let the public sector keep its money (government was waste, fraud, and abuse) while tax cuts (or Permanent Fund Dividend --PFD- increases, Alaska's version), restored money to its rightful owners.  Second was the construction of an implementation machinery-- a skilled, disciplined cadre of unknown technocratic operatives whose faceless previous deeds would not be subject to empirical assessment and accountability.  The combination of free money and operational obscurity will keep working, regardless of the opposing ideas of  Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and a generation of debt and precarity sufferers if the general public--starting with academics--doesn't get involved in public budgeting.

I know less about the Alaska governor than I do about his newly-imported budget director, but it looks to me like maiming the state universities is the way Dunleavy can set himself up as the next Scott Walker by competing in a national Republican party gang initiation that requires the dead bodies of a few public services run by the liberal professions (teachers and caregivers bad; police good).  The hunter-teacher-principal with the Native wife is now working with a Koch brothers organization (see also a PR Watch report) and has gotten himself the national headlines that he couldn't have without causing a lot of pain.  He's made efforts to suppress public debate.  Still, he can't do it by himself--he needs at least one trained operative with unwavering ideological commitment who can seize governmental control points to awe the voters with overwhelming force.

That operative is Donna Arduin, pictured with Gov Dunleavy above.  He brought her to a state who had never heard of her before this spring--video of her first budget hearing starts with the committee chair cajoling her repeatedly to say a couple of things about who she is because nobody knows.  She finally said she has worked for seven governors in six states.  What she didn't add is that they were all far-right Republicans who were devoted to advancing their political careers by breaking government and giving its money to supporters. She started in Michican in the early 1990s with John Engler, who accelerated that state's downward slide, and worked for Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in Florida.  She was then dispatched to California, where she helped a governor whom we all remember well.

She more recently worked as "rent-an-axe" for government hater Gov. Bruce Rauner in Illinois, who sowed chaos in part by holding the higher ed budget hostage for months at a time. 

Arduin was a central player in implementing Arnold Schwarzenegger's version of the far-right fiscal playbook.  The starting point is always to create a crisis. First, as noted above, claim current tax levels reflect waste, fraud, and abuse--an unjust taking of personal property like the Vehicle Licensing Fee in California or a reduced PFD distribution in Alaska--and promise big cuts.  Arnold waved brooms and knives to prove this point.  Second, repeat a fairy tale in which the same or better services--the legit ones--can be had for less tax money, along with more prosperity and jobs. This was the task of the "Laffer Curve" of Ronald Reagan fame, in which lower tax rates allegedly produce more business and therefore higher overall tax receipts, so the cuts pay for themselves and all the government stuff you want is still in place.  (Republicans used this line to demobilize opposition to their trillion-dollar tax cut for corporations and the wealthy in 2017.) Third, once you've won election with these paired claims, follow through with the large tax cut you promised, creating a sugar high in the base while also blowing up the budget deficit.  Fourth, use the big deficit to make huge destructive cuts, ideally big enough to change the agencies permanently.

The playbook can be modified while keeping its basic structure. Alaska is a great test case.  It is the third smallest state by population, and for several years has been getting smaller.  It has an extraction economy that depends on the price of oil and gas, and these prices are down from their previous highs.  The state government is dependent on extraction taxes and fees for 85% of its revenues, and now has a deficit that needs to be covered.  It sounds like a good opportunity to drown some government.

Unlike other states, however, Alaska has a Permanent Fund that normally gives a couple of thousand dollars annually to every Alaska resident. In normal years, it partially offsets an elevated cost of living. This fund is currently valued at over $65 billion.  The previous governor cut the divided to use the rest to cover the state deficit.  Dunleavy could continue this policy until oil prices rise again.  He could raise taxes (the current total per capita AK load is about a half of Washington state's, and there is no sales, income, or property tax, so there's some headroom). Dunleavy wears his love for Alaska on his sleeve, so he could use also use PFD to address Alaska's college completion problem (it is 49th of 50 states, page 6), double Native college attendance rates, and similar things that might help move the state away from natural resource dependence.  Dunleavy could have ambitious goals and he has many fiscal options. In the real world, there are always many options. How, then, to get a crisis that can eliminate all options except for massive, destructive cuts?

With the Playbook. First, say the government has had its hand in the people's pockets: promise to restore the Permanent Fund Dividend to its statutory amount-and top up the shortfalls from previous years.  A local TV station made a handy graphic:

Second, say using a third of the PFD reserve in one year (with no new taxes) won't hurt a thing-- health care, schools, universities, ferries, law enforcement, etc.  At Reporting From Alaska, Dermot Cole has a good list of all the cuts Dunleavy promised not to make.  When people respond, well if you're going to spend less on government you'll have to cut something, invoke efficiencies and consolidations--or just make some bullshit up, like Dunleavy did.  He claimed that the state is spending $200 million on jobs that are "funded but not filled," and that there's thus $200 million is savings to be plucked from a tree. (He also trusted that voters are dumb or lazy enough to believe that the state cuts hundreds of checks every two weeks for jobs that don't have people in them.)  Third, once you're elected by promising voters free, painless money, give away public money while refusing to raise taxes.   Fourth, rather than admitting your plan was either dumb or evil, use the deficit to cut everything massively, particularly higher education.  Look familiar?

This is where Donna Arduin comes in.  She is a seasoned pro at seizing control over multiple agencies through a technical rhetoric of process optimization.  Her presentation began by announcing that she had centralized budget development in her office, which meant taking it away from the various state agencies who had long built and submitted their own budgets.  She didn't spell out the obvious implications; operating agencies lose control of their own budgeting, and their local knowledge is purged from the process. Having been in the state for a few weeks, Arduin captured the process and replaces its situated assumptions with her own.

Her assumptions are far-right boilerplate: the public sector is straight waste, all regulation hurts business, only the private sector creates value, government activity should be privatized, its services are for moochers.  One rare press investigation of her assumptions, by a newspaper in Saratoga, Florida, found that they invalidated a consultancy report's conclusions even in the eyes of the Republican politicians who had hired her.   Her goals are always the same, and her means entirely predictable.

I reported almost ten years ago on one of Arduin's impacts in California:
When Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor in 2003, in the middle of yet another three-year reduction in state higher education funding, his budget director, Donna Arduin, privately told university leaders that she would push for continued state funding cuts to force the University of California and the California State University to implement major hikes in tuition. Arduin got much of what she wanted. Partly inspired by fear, university leaders signed a “compact” with the Schwarzenegger administration that built in 7–10 percent annual tuition increases between 2005–06 and 2010–11. This meant that tuition would inevitably rise at two to three times the 3–4 percent increases targeted for state funds. 
Arduin was in California's Department of Finance for less than a year, but UCOP never fully recovered.  They got scared off talking about rebuilding public funding to restore or improve quality.  Now, after years of tuition freezes, they build state requests around promises to generate an extra 20,000 degrees or so per year for a decade, which will consume any new funds and more. The Arnold-Arduin shock doctrine has locked in privatization and stagnation.

Now it's deja vu all over again: "Alaska University System May ‘Never Recover’ From Governor’s Budget Cuts, Leaders Warn." Those leaders are right.

In the middle of various state chopping jobs, Arduin formed a consulting firm with curvemeister Laffer.  One of Laffer's main clients was the far-right Kansas governor Sam Brownbeck, who, following the script, promised that massive cuts in taxes and government would rocket the state economy into a new age of riches.  Laffer helped Kansas refute his own theory yet again.  Tax cuts did not stimulate business investment, job growth, and tax receipts.  They gave investors and businesses windfall revenues.  Along the way, the Brownbeck-Laffer crew raided state reserves to try to hide their failure. Brownback's Republican legislature finally reacted to the giant hole he blew in the budget by revolting against the model in 2017, after it was too late: Kansas will be digging itself out for years and years.  In June, to honor Laffer's lifetime achievement with wrecking governments, Donald Trump awarded him the Congressional Medal of Freedom.

The playbook is always the same.

How do the Charlie Browns stop running for the anti-tax football?

Through a few things:

--Remembering what happened to the ball last time.  This means history and journalism, in circulation.  The short AFL-CIO video I linked to is a good example of user-friendly critique.  There needs to be serious, consistent coverage of the actual results of hatchet-people like Arduin--of what they have actually wrought.  And when coverage does happen, people need actually to read it.  Reading articles will help people like this guy, who, living on an island, was surprised that Dunleavy cut the ferry system after promising not to cut the ferry system.   Dude, you seem to have missed the last fifty years of American politics. But one article can bring you up to speed.

--Massed theoretical assault on the stupid theory that government produces no value-- is a dead weight except for people that need handouts.  The stupid theory has all sorts of social and ethical problems--it is grounded in racism and sexism, for starters--and gross political bias.  But it also needs to be shown to be factually wrong, across the full range of cases, and those results need to be distributed.  In reality, public goods are the majority of value in a society, and make private production possible.  In Alaska, as elsewhere, public goods are the main, really the sole source of decolonized resource use, racial justice, sustainable environmental policies, and progress in human welfare.  Bankrupt far-right economics needs to be replaced with a completely different model.  The work is underway, but it needs to go faster.

--Confrontational, persistent political pressure on politicians like Dunleavy to stop lying.  His fiscal claims during the campaign were fraudulent. They should be described as such, in the same way that journalists can now write sentences like "Today Donald Trump falsely claimed that . . ." The big lovable bear of a man dodged and weaved and minimized and evaded and lied his way through the campaign.  He should have been pressed hard then.  He continues to lie about the non-effects of his cuts -- "we can't continue to be all things to all people," or "it will be tough for a while but we'll get through this."  Call him out.  Raise the political cost of lying to people's faces over and over.  Only then will it will happen less often.

--Progressives are also going to have to bite the bullet and fight for mass scale budget literacy.  Budgets are a dominant language of political life.  Public systems and choices are more complicated than they were in the heyday of the party system, and people's educations haven't caught up.  Nor have their desires to educate themselves about how public money makes things happen. Not knowing that Dunleavy's budget vetoes would wreck higher ed, ferries, some forms of health care, etc. is a form of entitlement.  Not guessing that his evasions meant cuts know is a kind of privilege.  You sometimes hear leftists patronizing people who can "follow the arithmetic."  Well we can stay dumb about budgets--and stay Charlie Brown.

But nobody has to.

Posted by Chris Newfield | Comments: 7

Monday, June 17, 2019

Monday, June 17, 2019

UCOP is moving ahead rapidly to consider and implement dramatic changes in the structure of retiree healthcare at UC.  The have issued a Request for Proposals to remodel retiree healthcare (and apparently have received one).  UCOP has claimed that they are considering changes that will save up to $40M although they are also claiming that it will not substantially reduce the quality of coverage.  

At the same time it is quite possible that these changes will not be limited to retiree health care (where its burden of course will be especially heavy).  According to a letter from Rachael Nava to the Retiree Health Benefits Working Group this examination is being linked to a wider reevaluation of the entire structure of the University's health care plans.

We will keep you posted as we hear more.  But the best coverage of this issue is being done by Dan Mitchell over at the UCLA Faculty Association Blog.   His latest post includes links to his earlier, extensive coverage.  I urge all UC readers to follow Dan's coverage.  Please remember that unlike a pension retiree health is not a vested benefit.  So it is important that faculty and staff not assume it is stable.

Posted by Michael Meranze | Comments: 0

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Tuesday, June 4, 2019
This post is another in our ongoing series on Critical University Studies in the UK from the perspective of early-career scholars.

by Eric Lybeck, Presidential Fellow, University of Manchester

What is happening to the "academic self"?

I organised a conference on the apparently esoteric topic of ‘Academics, Professionals and Publics: Changes in the Ecologies of Knowledge Work’ at the University of Manchester in April.  It was a part of my Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship to track the long-term changes to the academic self, and with it, the idea of the university. When planning the event, I expected a handful of contributors and participants to meet for a workshop or seminar, but the event grew into a full-blown conference with twenty speakers and nearly a hundred attendees.  Clearly the topic(s) had struck a nerve.

The central theme of the conference revolved around our need as academics and professionals, working in and around the university, to reflect on the changes to the roles of knowledge in contemporary society. In particular, we noted the paradox in which experts have become subject to populist attacks even as the role of higher education and expertise are said to have become essential to knowledge economies.

We also wanted to reflect on changes within universities as new forms of expertise and professionalism have emerged, particularly the increased role of university administration and policy ‘wonks’ representing new forms of expertise within a context where academics lay claim to existing knowledge and authority.

Various talks engaged with issues surrounding the alienation of academic life, changes to university governance, and the reconfiguration of space within open-plan offices. We also heard from speakers, including Andrew Abbott, about the fact that ‘pure research’ has always been a free rider that gained a (likely temporary) foothold in universities: it may now be moving on due to decreasing institutional support.

Vivienne Baumfield spoke of the in-between role of academic teacher-educators.  She called on us to  recognize a mission to produce a generation of teachers who see themselves and act as public intellectuals. Linda Evans informed us of the way ‘academic leadership’ has become a catch-all term for an increasing array of job expectations that not even the most elite professors in the academy feel they can adequately live up to.

By the end of the day, my head was swimming with new ideas and, yet, despite the range of topics from several interdisciplinary fields, a few main themes came into view, which I would like to share.

First, academics and professionals may see ourselves as independent and above-it-all, but we are not. This positioning is not tenable within a populist political environment in which academics are targeted by the charge that we are out-of-touch elitists and cannot to be trusted. As Aaron Hanlon noted in his discussion of the commonalities between truth claims in the 17th century Enlightenment and those made on social media today, we cannot take public trust in knowledge for granted.  We need to communicate directly with the public, likely better than we have done hitherto.

Second, while the need to engage with the public is ever more important, it is discouraged by institutional pressures to chase rankings and by government mandates to ‘Innovate!’ and be ‘excellent.’ We likely need to rethink the entirety of our present system of work within our publish-or-perish environment if we are to realize these promises to the public.

Third, those of us involved in higher education research need to reach out beyond our specialization in education departments to involve the entire community of academics, professionals and publics in and around the university.  Every discipline should have something to say about changes to the ‘idea of the university’ or knowledge as such. For me, the most rewarding experience of the conference was the commentary from those in so-called ‘non-academic’ or ‘professional service’ roles, who were fully engaged with such as ‘what should the role of administration actually be vis-à-vis academics?’ We experienced a temporary suspension of the sense that the university is now two opposed hostile camps engaged in a zero-sum game.

In these and other ways, the event felt like an instance of the wider promise of Critical University Studies: real discussion across the full range of people in and outside the university about where it is going and what it should be. We can point to history in which academics seemed to have fulfilled roles as researchers, teachers and public intellectuals, but where do we find the time in the current system to do this publicly-engaged work?

We need to reclaim these public roles for ourselves and our students. We can only do this if we reclaim and reconstruct our universities.  And this reconstruction will also involve confrontation with the academic self today's universities expect.
Posted by Chris Newfield | Comments: 1

Friday, May 31, 2019

Friday, May 31, 2019
UCSF and UCSF Medical Center have announced that they are suspending negotiations to expand their existing relationships with four Catholic hospitals.  The reversal--highly unusual for the UC medical system--came after a public and a faculty outcry against more entanglement of the University with the private Dignity medical system that declines reproductive health services, gender-affirming surgery, and other procedures that conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church.  This decision is a big deal: after providing some background, I'll argue that it's an example of the power of faculty effort when it stands on principle and in alignment with social movements--with help from sophisticated press coverage that higher ed too often has to do without.

Michael entitled his first draft of this post, "Does UCSF Care about Womens' and LGTBQ Health?" It was a good question, since UCSF Health's senior management seemed to be denying the restrictive reality that would be imposed on UCSF personnel operating in Dignity facilities. According to reporting by Nanette Asimov (April 26, 2019),
Dignity spokesman Chad Burns has said the Catholic hospitals require UCSF doctors to sign God-affirming agreements that prohibit medical care that violate the hospitals’ religious beliefs. He said these include the “Statement of Common Values” or the more restrictive “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services,” which characterizes certain procedures, including sterilization, as “intrinsically evil.” Depending on the hospital, prohibited care can include abortions, tubal ligations, hysterectomies, sterilizations, miscarriage care, gender surgery and contraceptive counseling.
Under the terms of the former, Dignity must deny abortions, along with in-vitro fertilization (which would disproportionately harm the gay and lesbian couples that depend on that procedure).  Under the latter, Dignity presumes that marriage is between a man and a woman, forbids the prescribing of contraception as well as abortion, and allows the morning after pill in cases of rape but not abortion (paragraph 36). 

Meanwhile, UCSF was assuring its personnel that it would not have to sign any such agreements or do anything that violated their professional ethics or secular standards of care. Asimov also reported,
UCSF spokeswoman Jennifer O’Brien said the medical center’s physicians are not required to sign those precise documents. “But they do commit to provide care consistent with those value statements as part of their credentialing and privilege application to practice in Dignity Health’s hospitals. This does not impede our physicians’ ability to prescribe contraception medications at any Dignity Health hospital, regardless of its Catholic sponsorship.”
The statement doesn't exactly make sense, reading from one sentence to the next, and is in any case flatly contradicted by the Dignity spokesperson.  The tacit deal seemed to have been that UCSF personnel could mention or even advocate procedures that they could not provide at a Dignity facility but that the patient could get elsewhere--though such counseling also contravenes Catholic directives.  UCSF seems to have carved out wiggle room in prexisiting clinical affiliations, whose complicated policies were the subject of a September 2017 Academic Senate report.

This was a long way from UCSF Health's original August 2017 announcement that it was formalizing an affiliation with Dignity.  This press release represented the new stage as a done deal that merely deepened existing affiliations between two essentially identical titans of clinical quality, one of which, Dignity, was exemplary for its charitable medical work for low-income patients.  The announcement didn't mention that Dignity restricted access to some kinds of health care or even that it was Catholic.  So the open debate in 2019 may well have forced the parties, Dignity and UCSF Health, finally to reckon with the fact that they had contradictory ideas about the alliance, which would make it unworkable in practice.

How did the debate come to the surface? Several factors came together.

First, advocates for reproductive and LGTBQ rights critiqued the UCSF plan and publicized the critique.  The ACLU of Northern California, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the National Health Law Program wrote a joint memorandum detailing the various ways in which the alliance would require discriminatory treatment of transgender patients, women, and people seeking palliative care, among others. The ACLU collected 6700 signatures on a petition demanding that UC reject the alliance in the name of protecting health care free of discrimination.  Word circulated about the case of Evan Minton, a transgender man, who had sued a Dignity hospital for canceling his hysterectomy after discovering that its purpose was gender affirmation.  The ACLU organized a protest for May 15th, calling on people to hold UC accountable to its values of non-discrimination, equity, and inclusion. Trans, feminist, reproductive, and other health care movements played an important role.

Second, UCSF faculty got directly involved. 1500 staff signed a petition opposing the alliance.  They also found a channel to express individual opinions en masse.  The main agent was the Faculty Association, which decided to poll its members to confirm or deny assertions of general support.  Results ran 2 to 1 against the affiliation.  When the UCSF administration declared the results unrepresentative of the overall faculty, the FA polled the entire faculty.  They got more or less exactly the same results: 2 to 1 against, with about 1/4th in favor.

The FA also collected over 300 comments.  Many were quite moving, both in favor (see #1, on experience of no restrictions in practicing at St. Marys and reciprocal influence in caring for uninsured patients from vulnerable populations); and against (#8, 48, and 64, for example).   The chair of the divisional Academic Senate favored the affiliation (see his co-authored op-ed), as apparently did much of campus Senate leadership.

But the FA persisted, which is important in itself; generated empirical evidence, which is equally important as a check on spin; and gathered a large set of individual comments, which allows personal experience and care to be expressed in a way that helps collective thinking, and that serves as a displaced form of democratic deliberation.  The faculty, so often inexpressive on university policy, were brought on line.

On the systemwide level, Academic Council chair Robert May opposed the affiliation on principle.  Although he sees the business logic, he told some of us in April, the alliance would compromise the fundamental values of the university, not unlike the McCarthy-era loyalty oath of 1949.  We can debate what UC's fundamental values really are, but May articulated a support for absolutely equal access to health care regardless of any aspect of personal identity, one that allowed for no splitting the difference between UCSF and Dignity.  I think it made a difference to see a faculty member in May's position stating quite clearly what the university is for, and standing up for that.

Third, press coverage rendered the alliance as a public concern. In addition to Asimov's reporting, Michael Hiltzik wrote a pair of columns in April (here and here) describing how the details were not public, the Regents were confused, the defenses were not convincing, and the ethics were disastrous.  The first column said early on:
Dignity’s adherence to Catholic Church directives affecting medical care, including a near-total ban on abortion, is hopelessly at odds with the values of a public institution such as UCSF. What’s worse, UCSF, by implicitly accepting Dignity’s model discriminating against women and LGBTQ patients, would empower that model’s expansion.
and built up from there.  For the LA Times's business columnist --and author of a history of UC science--to deliver to UC a set of cogent criticisms helped stop the train that has always already left the station so that people could think again about where the train was going.

There are at least two issues to keep analyzing and pushing, given the possibility that UCSF and Dignity will come back later with a restructured deal.  The first is now widely discussed--how to develop fundamentally egalitarian health care in our Handmaid moment of coordinated assaults on Roe v. Wade, and more muted but pervasive opposition to transgender rights. UCSF's position was the kind of moderation that has made reproductive healthcare vulnerable (see Rebecca Traister on Democrat triangulation with abortion).

The second is the UC medical center business model.  UCSF argued that it needed Dignity to solve a capacity crisis.  But why does it have one after it spent 10 years building a whole second campus at Mission Bay? We've commented before on the planning problems there.  After all that building, where are the beds to handle projected growth? Were too many new buildings devoted to targeted projects of interest to donors?  I don't know the answers to these questions, but somebody should answer them.  It seems like something has gone very wrong with planning when two entire UCSFs, one brand-new, can't handle the clinical load.  

There is also another possibility, which is that UCSF doesn't have a capacity crisis, but a monopoly crisis.  There isn't actually an overall shortage of hospital beds in the Bay Area (Dignity has many empty ones), but only a shortage of beds controlled by UCSF.  This raises the thorny question of whether the UC medical enterprise is financially viable without a quasi-monopoly share of the local market that, among other things, would make it easier to raise prices on patients.  The question should be of burning interest to the UC system, since the US health care system is in a state of turbulent uncertainty and UC it is on the hook for its medical center losses.

But for the moment, we should see the suspended Dignity deal as a real success for faculty-staff engagement in tandem with social movements and an intellectually active press.

ADDENDUM, JUNE 1ST (from Ed Yelin, Professor of Medicine, UCSF)

Re: the UCSF capacity issue: the Mission Bay hospital provides different services than the Parnassus one, by design.  Mission Bay covers oncology, Ob/Gyn,  and pediatrics while Parnassus does the rest.  That may make sense from a faculty perspective, so a pediatrician doesn’t have to schlep across the city to see patients in two places, but it means any errors of prediction in demand bump up against the lack of flexibility and lack of redundancy.  If the Ob wards are full at Mission Bay, Parnassus can’t help.

Another issue is that they may have overbuilt lab space (this gets to the issue of who among the donors gets to have their names on buildings) and under-built clinical capacity at Mission Bay.  Just guessing based on rumors about the lab and clinical buildings.  The predictions about how much lab space would be supported by indirect cost returns from NIH grants were probably off when the Mission Bay campus was planned; they were projecting increases in real value based on the Clinton years.  The rest is history, even though from some perspectives NIH has fared better than much of the Federal government. Better to say things got bad at a slower pace!

Oh, one last thing, about the Faculty Association role.  Like to take credit for some part in this movement, but we were late to the game.  We may be more than the straw, but definitively weren’t the anvil that broke the camel’s back.  Maybe a mid-weight rider on the camel.  Faculty in Ob/Gyn and reproductive health were ahead on this.  Glad that we contributed a lot at the end.  As to the survey: we made the call to extend it to the entire faculty to head off the accusation about not being fully representative rather than reacting ex post facto to the administration’s claim about that.


Here is a link to the Interim Report of the Academic Senate Task Force on Non-Discrimination in Health Care. It recommends what has happened, which is the suspension of the affiliation pending an reconciliation of fundamental principles, which is unlikely to say the least.
Posted by Chris Newfield | Comments: 0