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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Saturday, April 26, 2014
UC released its 2014 admission figures recently to significant controversy.  As both Cloudminder and Bob Samuels have pointed out, the figures raise important questions about the impact of the increasingly frenetic search for non-resident tuition.  It has become harder for California residents to get into UC. In addition, as Bob argues, since it is the wealthiest campuses who are admitting the greatest number of non-residents, the system tends to move California residents to those campuses with the least resources.  This structure both reinforces inequality within UC (between campuses) and also means that many resident students will be receiving less in the material and educational support that underlies high-quality education.

UC has for years funneled students who might want to go to the richer campuses to the less wealthy.  But in the past, that hasn't been because the wealthier campuses were being filled on the basis of who could pay the most.  It is a perverse situation at best.

The situation is not at its best. If you look at UC's admission statistics, it is striking that although UC admitted 6,576 more students in 2014 than in 2012 there were 243 fewer California residents (although there were slightly more than in 2013).  To offer a longer perspective, in 2009, UC received 126, 701 applications and admitted 66, 265 students, 58, 631 of them California residents.  California residents had an acceptance rate of 72%.  In 2014, UC received 148, 688 applications, admitted 86,865 of whom 61, 120 were California residents with an acceptance rate of 61.2%.  Put another way, although UC admitted 20,600 more students in 2014 than in 2009, only 2,489 were California residents and it was significantly harder for a California resident to be admitted in 2014 than in 2009.  In a striking refutation of George Breslauer and Carla Hesse's ideological fantasy that "a dollar is just a dollar," Berkeley admitted roughly 1000 fewer California residents than it did in 2012.  I understand that the expected yield on NRT acceptances is lower than on California residents.  But even so there can be no question that UC is increasingly not "teaching for California."

UC administrators, to be sure, will argue that these changes are necessary given the dramatic underfunding by the State.  There can be no question that the state has insisted on serious and highly damaging cuts over the last decade.  And I recognize the budgetary logic of this move to NRT.  But its wisdom is something else.

For one thing, it is important to disentangle UC's rhetoric from reality.  When UC discusses the economics of this situation it tends to emphasize gross revenues.  But that is a distortion of the situation.  For one thing it ignores the increased costs--especially concerning international students.  As a result, the actual net revenues are much lower (there have been estimates around $10,000 net, taking into account the state contribution and increased costs).  In fact, back when the decision was made to keep NRT revenues on the campuses that produced them, the argument was made that this was necessary because of the increased costs that accompanied those students.  I don't agree with Brad DeLong's account of the policy, but he is correct that the presence of NRT students will draw resources towards them

But there is a deeper level of confusion involved.  Proponents of NRT point to the increased revenue that out of state and international students bring to the university during their years of enrollment.  But to put it simply in these terms ignores the extent to which California residents and their families as taxpayers contribute to the university even in years when they are not enrolled.   Again, I recognize the defunding (we have been posting on it for years).  But we need to recognize that as a matter of equity Californians are asked to support the university system even when they are not enrolled.  It does not seem too much to ask that the university and Sacramento seek a way to meet that support without funneling California residents to less wealthy campuses because of the short-term support of out of state residents.  Producing inequality is not a winning long-term strategy for the University--at least if it expects to continue to receive support from Californians.

What then might UC do to look toward a better alternative path?

The first thing is to break with the habit of praising UC administrators for "making hard choices."  This has been the rhetorical tack beginning with the Gould Commission and continuing on through the fever of UC Online.  But in reality the "hard choices" of UC's administration have always been hard on other people: students, California residents, staff and to some extent faculty.  This practice is clear in the rhetoric of UCOP and the Chancellors in promoting NRT as a viable way to respond to the collapse of the old funding model.  The emphasis has always been on finding ways to cut the costs of instruction.  But given the rise in non-tenure track faculty, those costs have been being cut for a good many years.

How then might we begin a real conversation on the future of the public research university?  The following chart, courtesy of the AAUP, gives an indication:

As we are reminded here, despite all of the rhetoric about the "cost disease" associated with teaching, universities and colleges have been engaged for decades in shifting their hiring from full-time tenure track faculty to part-time and full-time non-tenure track faculty.  Just as striking is the documentation of the extraordinary growth of what the AAUP calles "full-time nonfaculty professional."  The AAUP indicates a category "that includes buyers and purchasing agents; human resources, training, and labor relations specialists, management analysts; loan counselors; lawyers; and other nonacademic workers." Perhaps even more telling (given that it is not clear how many of these positions are filled by IT or student support personnel) is that according to at least one leading survey of administrative positions, since the late 1970s the number of administrative job titles has grown by 139% and the percentage of academic dean titles has dropped from 38 to 21%. (8)

To be sure, these categories are imprecise.  But that is part of the problem.  Despite the heroic efforts of Charlie Schwartz, we simply don't know the actual number of people in particular jobs on the different campuses, how many of them work directly in instructional or research support capacities, how many are front-line student services etc.  And the reason we don't know that is because UC's personnel systems are not set up to make that clear.

So if we really want to start thinking about how to maintain a public research university at UC, the first thing necessary is not a dramatic increase in NRT,  but a comprehensive, system-wide and campus-based assessment of administrative costs and benefits.  If UC wants to make "hard choices" they cannot be choices about administrative growth as usual while everyone else is facing increasing demands and students are paying more for less.  The real future lies in doubling down on our core mission of teaching and research and demonstrating to the state and to the public that we are driven by that and not by the search for rankings to recruit students from elsewhere.  It might even increase the quality of the education we offer.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Saturday, April 19, 2014
Was Deltopia a riot that required a massive police response?  The KEYT news photo on the left (7th in the slideshow) shows the largest crowd near the police that I can find.  I'll discuss what they are actually doing a bit later.

In Part 1, I analyzed the rhetorical escalation of Deltopia 2014 into a riot. I described two different narratives about the event (my titles): (1) "Police Shut-Down of UCSB Deltopia Party Sparks Some Resistance"; and (2) "UCSB Deltopia Party Becomes Riot: Student Attacks on Police Continue for Hours").  I argued that the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department had worked overtime to replace (1) with (2), the riot narrative, and that the media cooperated fully in making the riot the accepted story of what happened.

I also noted that this narrative has been operationalized as a formal request from the LEEDIR police information repository for civilian videos and photos during the "civil unrest" at Deltopia.  This request means, in effect, that the Sheriff's Department has designated Deltopia as a "large emergency event" like the Boston Marathon bombing for which LEEDIR was created.  As far as I can tell, anyone who attended Deltopia can wind up in this electronic data base, and have visual or audio recordings of them stored, scanned, analyzed, and put to use in ways that have not been explained.

What was it about Deltopia itself that could justify this extraordinary step? 

I was particularly interested in Sheriff Department Public Information Officer Kelly Hoover's Airtalk claim that "probably every sheriff's deputy I talked to that was out there was hit with something," which suggested many or even scores of police injuries. The Department information page identified six police injuries, while noting that "26 people were transported to area hospitals." This week, I asked various journalists whether they had updated information about the police injuries. Giuseppe Ricapito, author of The Bottom Line's front page articles, replied as follows:
I called SB Sheriff PIO Kelly Hoover to clarify some information regarding violence during the civil unrest. The only direct violence between a [civilian] and officer was the "powder keg" for the whole civil unrest, when (17 year old) Desmond Edwards struck the officer in the head with his backpack filled with alcohol containers. She did tell me however that another altercation had occurred earlier in the day, and the officer involved was injured and requires surgery on his arm.
Even this moment of violence--the Edwards "powder keg"--may have been exaggerated, as the Independent reports (h/t Jay) that the famous "backpack contained only one half-full Bacardi bottle, not multiple bottles like reports have stated," such that the officer's injuries may have come from falling as he grabbed for Mr. Edwards.   Mr. Edwards has pled non-guilty, and more about this unclear incident will emerge from the report.

Whatever happened there, it now seems that injuries to officers were very limited, which is of course good news, and this blog joins other outlets in wishing them a speedy recovery.  I also want to note, for the record, my awareness that policing Isla Vista during "party lockdown" is a difficult if not miserable job:  see 3:30-4:00 in this Deltopia video for an example of the unpleasant work involved in containing a certain kind of male party idiot. Many students I spoke with expressed general appreciation for the members of the Isla Vista Foot Patrol; all expressed hostility toward the party idiots.

* * *
But if we are down to two police injuries, what is the evidence that Deltopia was a riot or "civil unrest" in which a mob turned on cops, in KEYT's tag line?  Let's try the video evidence.

The main local news archive can be found on KEYT's URL "Thousands Riot in the Streets of Isla Vista".  There are six Live Shot clips at the heart of the action that run from 11:00 pm to 12:17 am. The crowd seems to come to a couple hundred at its largest. It appears to me to range from 95% to 100% male.  The sequences begin with a stop sign being uprooted, and over the course of the clips, two stop signs are waved around, a small white station wagon is shown to have been trashed (off camera),  a mattress is passed around and then lit on fire, and a few bottles are thrown in the direction of the police. KEYT got third-year UCSB student Montana MacGlachlan on the phone while she was hiding out with ten other people in a garage. She said, "most people are just trying to get home safely" (Live Shot 2, 2:00).  She didn't think I.V. residents were involved in the vandalism:  "we don't intentionally ruin where we live."

The correspondent named Derek reported that the stop signs were used to thrash the white "minivan" and that two officers were hit with objects.  He also said that "the people involved in this activity" from time to time throw something "in the direction of law enforcement and don't care where it goes." (Live Shot 4, 3:00 on).  This seems like a good description of the desultory action.

KEYT anchor C.J. Ward try to drum up interest by saying,

I've seen old film of the riots from the 70s when they burned down the bank, but I've never seen anything like this . . where you seen them literally shut down Isla Vista and have to call in the SWAT team and the dogs. This is just crazy to see what is going on right now " (6:00 . . .)
But there was more action in the commentary and reminiscing that in the video.  The video is lousy--an unchanging shot from well to the rear of the action--and it shows the crowd shrinking steadily over the course of the hour. By midnight there may only be two dozen people left, some obviously drunk and most appeared to qualify as what I.V. residents call "randoms."

After midnight (Live Shot 6, 8:20), things perk up when KEYT's Derek says, "We're getting shot at right now."  But he means getting shot at by the police.  "I'm getting shot at by pepper balls and by rubber bullets. The police have really come in full force and I'm definitely not in a safe space by now."  He leaves, and the video image disappears in a cloud of tear gas.  The story there is a lack of safety caused by a police offensive.  But KEYT ignores this and starts replaying earlier footage of the crowd not long after 11 pm.

Quite a bit of amateur video wound up on You Tube, most of it apparently shot by I.V. residents. The Daily Nexus coverage included a typical example that runs nearly 7 minutes. The video shows one or two dozen police around a police truck facing off against the same number of young men out in front of a larger crowd spilling over from a party into the street.  As the video begins, a couple of men are pushing a dumpster into the street--probably Del Playa--and a few others are getting plastic trash bins. One gets thrown towards the cops.  Two blue plastic bins are pushed on their side blocking the street, and then a third is pushed in to join the others. At around 1:20 the police order the street group to disperse, but most people aren't involved in the bin pushing and may not feel like the police are talking to them. Three minutes in there are a half-dozen bins and two or three dumpsters in the street, creating a no-man's land between the police line and the dozen or so people who've been involved in creating this semi-blockade. Around 5:05 the police fire tear gas. Thirty seconds later the street is empty.  The gas drifts up to the balcony where the video is being filmed, and amidst various exclamations the video ends. Another, longer video shows what may be a separate incident or the same incident shot from further down the block, in which the crowd is larger, and parts of it at various points shout "fuck the police." Although a larger number of people are involved, they are keeping their distance.  There is no physical contact or even proximity between the police and the crowd. 

Loudlabs does a little better with audio and visual effects. There are students coughing on teargas and decent shots of the police doing their best to maintain ever-popular visuals of red and lavender emergency lights illuminating drifting clouds of tear gas.  I lean in when a "fuck-the-police" chant starts at 6:10. I lean back when it dies out at 6:18.  People are just standing around, apparently enjoying talking to each other and perhaps not wanting to miss whatever happens.  But nothing does. The same goes with another shorter clip--no conflicts with police. There's a longer video from within the crowd itself: a sheriff line is visible.  At 5:36 some UCSB police ride in from behind the crowd on bikes, and they are cheered.  At 7:45 the sheriffs declare an unlawful assembly. The cameraholder retreats, and the rest of the video is shot from behind. There's no sign of conflict or of fighting with the cops.  A helicopter flies by like a slow-moving meteor. There are fireworks for a minute.  Cars try to park or drive down the street. 

* * *
By far the best witnessing came from UCSB students who wrote columns and editorials about their experiences--or who in some cases wrote to me. Senior Alexa Shapiro spoke for many when she described a not particularly fun ordeal trying to get back to her apartment.  She encountered, block by block, "more tear gas, more running crowds, and more impassable streets"; their progress was interrupted repeatedly.  The implication was that the police pressure on crowds to clear the streets actually made the streets more congested, at least for a time, and stirred up unpleasant confusion and fear. 

Similarly, senior Jay Grafft, who shared Ms. Shapiro's (and many many UCSB students' ) dislike for Deltopia overall, reported from his frontline position on Del Playa:  

That night, S.W.A.T. patrol vehicles were racing up and down right in front of my driveway, while behind my backyard glass bottles and flashbangs were being flung through the air. Whenever I stepped outside, I would either immediately start choking on tear gas, or be [asked] to return to my house by an armed paramilitary officer. I realized that, by that point, the cops really didn’t have a clue as to who was part of the riot or not, meaning that anyone could present a potential danger . . . 
Del Playa resident Sean Carroll also assigned a disruptive role to the police:
From my perspective, those walking up and down the street didn’t seem that out of control; I’ve seen the same sketchy fuckfaces our community loathes on normal weekend nights acting way more disrespectful. I didn’t see a single fight during Deltopia. I don’t doubt there were a few, but as someone who goes out three or more nights a week I’m fairly used to drunken aggressive idiots getting into it. So it seemed pretty unusual to walk from party to party during the day and early evening and not come across any—during Deltopia, no less.  
The point being that, leading up to the riot, the crowd on DP was not some mob causing problems. The daytime tens-of-thousands had thinned out, and the amount was pretty normal sized for a Saturday night. Why were there officers dressed in riot gear and armored vehicles in I.V. all day? What did the police think would happen when they decided to charge down DP at 10 p.m., clashing with people who had been drinking all day?  
If you search “Deltopia 2014” on YouTube, my three-minute video documenting the riot is one of the first to pop up. And you know what it shows? The riot started AFTER the cops lined up with shields and an armored vehicle. It shows a select few individuals (read: fucking dipshits) throwing bottles, yelling “Fuck the police” and inciting more to join. And above all it shows that with tear gas and fear, the cops chose to abruptly stop Deltopia exactly when they wanted to do so. By blockading DP right where the 66 and 67 blocks meet, police ensured that anyone and everyone walking in that direction would have run into it. It was only a matter of time before some sketchy fools would react. 
In my discussions with students, I heard variations of this same story.  In most cases, they assign the police a leading role in the escalation.

I received another eyewitness account that focused on the "riot" as a police-knucklehead co-production.

I wasn't there for the beginning of the civil unrest (which occurred at around 9:30), but I went out to Del Playa and Camino Pescadero a little before 11, after DP had been shut down by the officers. In terms of "real contact" between the students and officers, I saw none in the beginning. The officers were enforcing the "no man's land" between them and the students- anyone who attempted to bridge the gap and advance toward the officers were usually turned away by rubber bullets. The closest I saw to a student getting near the officers was when some people pushed out a large trash bin into the no man's land (as it rolled through the crowd they almost ran over a seemingly really drunk girl who had been knocked down to the ground by it). It was an effective barricade for a while, but they fled after some tear gas. After most of the mayhem had ended, around 1:30, there was a police vehicle, with 4 armed mounted officers on back in riot gear, slowly rolling down Pescadero (presumably to flank the few remaining students), and after a few bottles were thrown at the truck they fired a bunch of shots then turned to drive fast down Trigo. . . . 
In terms of rioting directed at the officers- I think its impossible to quantify exactly what the rioters were there for, what they were opposing (if they were opposing anything at all) or why many of them chose to stay in the area and engage the officers, from a distance, with their presence. At the peak of the unrest, from where I was in the crowd, some people were yelling for a charge, others were trying to cool everyone down, some were laughing and continuing to party in the streets, and others were just destroying things. And, not to mention, that a lot of the people there were sort of apathetic bystanders watching everything play out. At the time I thought it was an incredibly free moment. The officers were so concerned with vacating the crowd that they weren't policing anything occurring within and around it. I also talked to a few AS Execs about how closing down DP forced students into the riot zone (some were immediately pushed out, in droves, to the edge, and others congregated there because they couldn't  access their homes in the blocked off areas), but they disagreed that the students were completely restricted.  
Several students thought the police used excessive force.  Here's a description of one from a female resident of Del Playa.
I live in the middle of the 66 block and witnessed the entire event.  I’m sure you know that police officers were assaulted (which I never think is right).  However, I wanted to let you know that I watched the police exercise brutality on civilians as well.  After the tear gas had cleared the crowd off of the street, I watched officers shoot at my neighbor’s balcony (in which they hit students inside of their own home and broke windows).  I also watched a couple, who hid in my yard when the tear gas hit, try to walk home but instead, they were confronted by three cops each who in turn severely beat their legs down with sticks, held then to the ground, and insisted on arresting them.
I wrote back to her to ask whether she meant that she had herself seen police officers being assaulted.  No, she answered:
I watched the whole scene outside for about two hours and I never once saw any students or visitors attack the police. Although I live a little further down from where the “riot” began on the 67 block, I did not see any civilian attack a police officer or throw anything their way.  All I saw were kids being scattered from the tear gas, kids hiding in my front yard (and in my neighbor’s), kids being arrested if they happened to be seen on the street, and my neighbors, who had all been at home on their second story balcony, being shot at with rubber bullets.  (I also had at least one police officer--who was unprovoked--point a gun up at my second story balcony the entire two hours).
This student concluded,
it was in no way a riot but instead, one single action (the kid who swung the bottles at a police officer on the 67 block), a fury of excitement from the crowd (who ripped out stop signs etc), and then really aggressive behavior by law enforcers. 
By early this week, there were at least as many reports of police brutality against bystanders as of verified injuries to police officers.
*  *  *
The narrative that now makes the most sense to me is as follows.  Prior to the Edwards Incident, Deltopia 2014 had seen one act of serious violence--a stabbing in which the suspect was immediately captured by police--but for an event with 20,000 participants was otherwise going pretty well.  Then the 17-year-old Mr. Edwards, involved in some kind of scuffle, hurt an officer with his backpack.  A call went out of officer down.  This made the crowd seem more hostile to at least some of the police, which increased an "us-against-them" mentality (h/t Phil). The initial police surge to help their fellow officer created anxiety and confusion in the crowd. Officers from outside agencies arrived, so there were not only out-of-towners among the partiers but out-of-towners among the cops. The police settled on an "unlawful assembly" strategy that committed them to clearing the streets.  They did not try to stop specific acts of vandalism like the stop sign uprooting or the attack on the white car. They decided instead to get rid of the crowd as a whole: hence the flashbangs and tear gas, the shooting of rubber bullets at people not in the main crowd, and the rousting, arresting, and allegations of the isolated beating of people well away from the action and of rubber bullets fired into apartment windows.  The police were not in fact attacked, though they were sometimes engaged--apparently always at a distance--by individuals.

I use the term "police occupation" to describe this situation in which the police decided not just to contain and arrest the disorderly and the violent individuals, but to purge everybody and retake the streets.   A problem with this strategy is always that it implies--indeed creates--collective guilt.  It also commits the police to the use of at least limited force against bystanders and not just against the small number of actually disorderly or violent people. The introduction of large numbers of police with helmets, weapons, and armored vehicles into the streets means "riot," even if there is zero resistance--or isolated and half-hearted resistance as in this case.  When the action is over, to help people ignore the active police role in co-creating the "riot" itself, and to marginalize the video of street clearing and occupation and the reports of brutality that surface later, police spokespersons committed themselves to a riot narrative that is still working to justify any use of force--or retroactive surveillance--as thrust upon police by a mob.

The Sheriff's Department embedded the collective guilt of UCSB-IV in the media coverage, as I discussed in Part 1.  They continue to lump major violent crimes together with minor incidents. In one (misdated) press release, they created a line-up of three Deltopia arrestees.  The first, a non-student, is accused of the attempted murder of a Rhode Island man who was visiting his brother in Isla Vista.  The second, UCSB student Otis Washington, is charged with "vehicle tampering and resisting arrest." The third, UCSB student Tomas Delaveau, is charged with "battery on a peace officer" for allegedly spitting on one.  This incongruous group is made even stranger by what we do know about Mr Washington's case: he is on film explaining to KEYT news (at 2:00) that he had jumped on his friend's car to dance, his friends then said "let's go let's go we gotta get out of here," so he started running: "I guess that initiated some type of response in the police so they all tackled me from different angles."  Why did the sheriff's office present the the car dancer and the spitter along with the knife assailant? It only makes sense as part of a campaign to present everyone at Deltopia as part of a dangerous riot spinning out of control.

This description, however, isn't supported by the evidence. We should reject the Sheriff Department's and the media's storyline that, in my terms, "UCSB Deltopia Party Becomes Riot: Student Attacks on Police Continue for Hours." That's not what happened.  The more accurate headline for this event is the other one I proposed: "Police Shut-Down of UCSB Deltopia Party Sparks Some Resistance: Officer Was Injured During Arrest."  This second narrative also has the benefit of avoiding the collective slander of IV-UCSB. It might also prompt an independent review of police conduct and policy in Isla Vista, which I now believe is necessary.

In Part 3, I'll look into Deltopia's background and some related undergraduate educational issues.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014
By Jennifer Ruth (Department of English, Portland State University)

At Portland State University, we voted to authorize a strike this spring if our collective bargaining team could not reach an agreement with the administration. Nine days before the strike would have begun, on April 6th, a tentative agreement was achieved. PSU-AAUP members voted April 15th and 16th on whether or not to ratify the agreement. The expectation is that the agreement will be ratified.

PSU has had a collective bargaining chapter since 1978 but never voted to authorize a strike before.

Why now?

The rot here is no different from that seen across the nation at countless state universities: spiking student tuition for a student body least capable of shouldering  debt; drastic decline in state funding over thirty years; gradual and now unsustainable increases in non-tenure-track and adjunct faculty over the same thirty years; more top administrators than ever before, more of whom are “outsiders” bereft of institutional history and relationships.

Surely the story here is a familiar one elsewhere as well? Surely, elsewhere, too, the once vital shared governance between an almost wholly tenure-track faculty and a set of administrators who rose from their ranks has deteriorated into what faculty term a “shit show” of open hostility and contempt from both sides. On one side is an increasingly disaffected and resentful mix of tenure-line and non-tenure-line faculty; and on the other, an administration distracted by its search for quick fixes (MOOCs!)

It doesn’t surprise me that our union decided to stake everything to force some of these issues onto the bargaining table. What surprises me is that the administration looked so baffled and so bewildered when they played and we didn’t dance. What did they think happens when a university’s budget is leveraged on a disposable workforce? Did they expect new levels of trust in, and loyalty towards, the institution?

Why here? That’s a tough question to answer since I imagine that many universities are on the cusp of the same set of events we’ve just experienced. Does it ultimately come down to the confluence of individuals involved? A union President and bargaining team with the courage to force a crisis, a set of administrators singularly unaware of, and so unprepared for, the depth of the dysfunction under their noses? An analysis that lights on individuals in their uniqueness and freedom is not one that a structuralist like me offers with great confidence but what else?

What now is the more important question. I had moments of deep frustration with the union leadership over these last months. In particular, I felt that the narrative they relied upon was one that scapegoated the two people at the very top – the President and Provost – for a rotten infrastructure that was many years in the rotting. We – the faculty, those in union leadership, many members of senate, department chairs and senior faculty—had been here much longer than had either the president or provost and my experience as chair of my department had taught me very clearly that we – tenured faculty and chairs—had done as much to create the mess as anybody else. Were we going to be able to fix things if we weren’t honest about how they’d gotten so messed up in the first place? Driving two people out of their jobs would not break down the system and rebuild it along more sustainable and ethical lines.

The reality that we were all going to have to account for ourselves—not just the President and Provost—sunk in when I attended a forum held by the union leadership in the final days of bargaining. The most dramatic testimony that night was given by someone who had been an adjunct at PSU for thirteen years. He talked about the letters of recommendation he’d written over the years. Letters of recommendation—like so much else at the university—presume a stable faculty paid the kind of salary and given the kind of professional status that allows him or her to do many numbers of things without negotiating for a “wage” in return.

So PSU hired this person term after term, paid him peanuts, and relied upon him to write letters of recommendations for a generation of students. Our president had been here six years and the provost one and a half. They didn’t even know this adjunct existed. Who did? The chair of the department he taught in. And if the tenure-track faculty in that department did not know he existed, they should have. When they asked for a course release to finish their book projects, did they ask about the adjunct who would be hired to fill their place? The fact that this person was invisible was not one person’s fault but nor do I want to invoke the phrase “broken system” here. Real people signed these contracts; real departments relied upon this labor. It is the fault of  both administrators and tenured faculty.

Calling out our own quiet complicity in the deterioration of the university and the exploitation of adjuncts is not for the faint of heart. Rebecca Schuman, whom few people would consider faint of heart, was herself deeply shocked by the vitriol that spewed forth when she suggested in a blog post that we stop hiring adjuncts. Well-meaning tenure-track faculty ask her all the time, she wrote, “but what can we do?” Here’s a thought, she said: Don’t hire someone on wages you wouldn’t accept. People were not prepared for that answer. We have become far more comfortable blaming administrators as if they alone run universities. Those of us with tenure are also responsible for what happens at our universities.

Unions like PSU-AAUP have taken the first step: they woke up our administration. “I have heard you, and I'm listening,” President Wiewel told Faculty Senate in remarks that were then forwarded to the rest of the campus community. “We should explore strengthening tenure by looking at developing a system that works for what are now fixed-term faculty,” he said. He did not mention adjuncts. But we must. It’s up to the tenured faculty to see him on “strengthening tenure” and raise him one by bringing adjuncts into the picture. If we fail to do this over the next two years, I hope the same confluence of unique and free individuals rise to the occasion again when a new contract is bargained. 

Ten days after the Deltopia: Party Riot trailers and pirated clips hit the Internet, my effort to watch 100% of the clips and read 100% of the accounts has led me to this conclusion: this was not the student-run production that I was told to expect. My expectations were fueled by media coverage that depicted students and other student-age partiers turning sour and attacking the police. "Deltopia Leads to 100 Arrests, 44 Hospitalizations," screamed the early Huffpo headline about the Saturday April 5th event. The local ABC affiliate announced, "Mob Turns on Cops. A second clip from this station, KEYT, featured both a stabbing of one visitor by another (suspect apprehended) and the arrest of a UCSB student for dancing on his friend's car. The weekly alternative student newspaper,The Bottom Line, furnished full-tilt riot coverage. When I saw that this student eyewitness account lined up with that of our local retiree-oriented TV station, I thought there must have been a serious student / partier offensive against beleagured law enforcement.

I went looking for images of and eyewitness testimony about this specific claim -- "mob turns on cops."  I devoted part of a  lecture on The Grapes of Wrath to a discussion of Deltopia with the 180 students in my "Noir California" course, discussed the event with a 17-student honors section,  contacted various Isla Vista residents about their experiences, talked at some length to about fifteen individual students, walked I.V. to speak with people there, and repeatedly asked various groups for eyewitness accounts and video evidence.

I wanted precise detail in order to distinguish between two distinct narratives of the event, summarized by these sample headlines:

1. Police Shut-Down of UCSB Deltopia Party Sparks Some Resistance: Officer Was Injured During Arrest

2. UCSB Deltopia Party Becomes Riot: Student Attacks on Police Continue for Hours

Obviously the riot story attracts eyeballs, while an isolated case of resisting arrest and later dumpster-dragging does not.  The riot story is also far more damaging to the reputation of UCSB and its students.  If the media is going to drag UCSB through the "drunken party school" mud again, there had better be some decent evidence that the student body was not only drunk that night, but picking fights with police.

I was not pleased when I tuned into KPCC's Airtalk on April 8th and heard its host, Larry Mantle, describe UCSB as "better known for its hard drinkers than for its academics or community service." The station nailed down this stereotype by conducting a poll on the question, "UCSB Spring Break Riot: Will Deltopia violence spur a change in party school mentality?" My immediate thought was, "screw you Larry (though I know you care about public universities): UCSB is great, and so are our students."  My second thought was, OK, he has the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's public information officer Kelly Hoover on the show; let me listen to her evidence.

Deputy Hoover said that they were prepared for a large crowd, and then described the incident (starting at 1:45).
What happened was, around 9:30 at night, there was a UCSB police officer that was breaking up a fight. He was hit in the head with a backpack that contained large bottles of alcohol. This was a significant injury that required twenty stitches to his head.  We had an officer down. We had law enforcement that were running to assist him. And with all of that commotion it drew a large crowd. And then it just turned.   It just turned into an us-versus-them kind of a mob mentality of people starting to throw rocks, and bricks, and bottles, and full beer cans at law enforcement. It spread over a couple-of-blocks radius, and you know it just kept snowballing on from there, and just getting worse and worse. It took us several hours to be able to get true order over the situation. We called in mutual aid. We had more than a hundred resources come in from both Santa Barbara Count and Ventura County to help us. (my transcription here and below)
Deputy Hoover put the Airtalk audience squarely into the Story 2 riot zone.  The first section of her statement, about the injury to the officer and call for assistance, is similar to the official account that Sheriff Bill Brown delivered to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors the Monday following the incident.   Sheriff Brown didn't continue with claims about widespread student attacks. The backpack slinger was identified as a 17-year-old boy from Los Angeles. He was later arrested and charged as an adult.

Mr. Mantle then invited Deputy Hoover to dogwhistle the popular theme of taxpayer resentment about subsidizing spoiled brats during their college years (the high cost of policing party riots and of funding the University of California itself, with one listener demanding that all state funding be cut so the university would depend on tuition 100%). When an Isla Vista caller suggested to Mr. Mantle that the prior police clampdown had made things worse, Deputy Hoover called the listener's comments "hurtful" (8:08).
It would be ridiculous to have law enforcement back off any more than they are.   Any time we step in it's to . . . . [pause] Of all the hospital transports that we had, the majority of them were for alcohol poisoning. People that were so drunk that they had overdosed on alcohol. People were jumping on top of cars. People were vandalizing.  Is he [the caller] OK with that? Is he OK with women being sexually assaulted?
Larry Mantle interrupted Deputy Hoover to clarify: "it sounds like Ed is saying for the police to say out and let that students handle it. That's what I understood him saying."  ("Ed" was actually saying that police conduct was a more destructive form of governance than student self-policing--more on this theme in the next installment.)  Deputy Hoover continued:
There's just no way. There's just too much criminal activity. It's too dangerous. You have people that have been drinking alcohol from morning till night, that are not able to make good decisions, that can get hurt. Like last year, we had a woman fall of the cliffs and die. We had a balcony collapse; that injured several people. We've had recently women sexually assaulted by multiple suspects. We have had a stabbing earlier in the night. We had a robbery, an armed robbery.  If anything we need to have more crackdown on law enforcement [sic], not less.
Deputy Hoover was folding all these separate incidents into Deltopia, which became their master source.   When Mr. Mantle asked how the injuried deputies were doing, she replied,
I do want to clarify, we had four that were transported to the hospital; they all had significant injuries.  I am not talking about just getting hit in the head. I'm talking about twenty stitches for one, eight stitches for the other, a hand injury for one that's going to require surgery. These are significant injuries. And also, probably every sheriff's deputy I talked to that was out there was hit with something. They may have not been transported to the hospital, but they have bruises, one was hit in the eye with a bottle, with shrapnel from a bottle. And it's just not OK. It's just absolutely ridiculous. It's uncalled for. Out-of-towners yes, they're coming in and they are causing problems. But we really don't agree with students encouraging Deltopia and opening their doors to people from out of the area who may cause trouble. We do have people arrested who are UCSB students and who are City College students as well. . . 
By the time she had finished, the Sheriff Department's information officer had firmly established Story 2, Party Riot, complete with widespread criminality, arrested students, and a mob turning on cops on a scale large enough to have injured virtually all of 160 (or 200?) officers who were there from multiple agencies that evening.

The Airtalk webpage had a number of comments, many of which disputed the riot story or at least the drunken UCSB student stereotype.  The arrest statistics show that 0.65% of the crowd was arrested (130 of 20,000), and that of these 16 were from UCSB and 10 from SBCC. 17 of the 130 arrests involved the nighttime disturbance, with an unknown subset--perhaps just the original one--arrested for a violent felony. Although these numbers don't suggest a massive blowout, the riot stereotype had now been confirmed by an official law enforcement source, and was strengthened by the UCSB administration's hangdog statement on the same webpage.

Deputy Hoover's description of Deltopia is inflammatory--unless it is literally correct (160 injured deputies, a "mob" acting in concert to attack police).  The Sheriff Department has doubled down on it, having launched an ongoing effort to identify people "involved in criminal behavior activity during Deltopia."   The investigation includes interviews with I.V. residents and calls to landlords of property that may have been involved in the launching of objects at officers.  The Sheriff's Department is reviewing audio and video from the surveillance cameras that the UCSB administration paid to have installed at key intersections in Isla Vista (they were removed April 14th).

The Bottom Line's Giuseppe Ricapito reported that the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department has extended the dragnet to LEEDIR, the Large Emergency Event Digital Information Repository. LEEDIR is an "eyewitness platform," designed to accept and process digital information about emergency events from civilian witnesses.  It is operated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department with technical support provided by Citizen Global and Amazon Web Services.  Its information page says it was set up in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, where attendee photos proved helpful in identifying the two main suspects.  LEEDIR's splash page now has an "immediate request for eyewitness photos and videos" for only one event -- "civil unrest at Deltopia in Isla Vista, CA."

This means that Story 2 has not only established Deltopia as a violent riot, UCSB students as drunk, and I.V. residents as incapable of running their own affairs, but has now fed the sheriff's investigation into an electronic repository in which images of partygoers may remain in law enforcement databases indefinitely. LEEDIR defines Deltopia as an "large emergency event," and will store images of people who jumped on cars or threw trash or simply milled around in Isla Vista on the night of April 5th alongside those of the Boston Marathon bombers. 

So Story 2 had better be true.  But in my next post, I'll argue that there is no evidence for it, and then move on to discuss the term "police occupation" in my title.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014
by Judith Paltin, UC Santa Barbara

On this blog last October, Berkeley Anonymous pointed out that the UC’s employee compensation/benefits website, At Your Service, was promising:,"If you do nothing, you will be enrolled in the new UC Care plan, with the same dependent coverage you have now. UC Care has the same in-network and out-of-network coverage you have now, with much more.”

However, the stories brought to the UCSB Faculty Association meeting on April 9 demonstrate that faculty coverage and, consequently, their medical decision-making, are in fact very different under UC Care. One faculty member, unable to find any labs contracted to provide Tier 1 benefits, was advised to travel 80 miles to Santa Monica to receive covered lab services, a trip she would have had to make repeatedly. Upon her objections, she was told (incorrectly, according to the insurance company) to “use whatever lab [local Tier 1 medical clinic] Sansum uses” – she is now attempting to appeal the insurance company’s subsequent denial of her lab charges. A UCSB Health Care Facilitator told her that the UCOP “forgot to negotiate” with any nearby labs. 

One pregnant faculty member said she signed up for UC Care under the understanding that she would be covered for a Sansum obstetrician and a Santa Barbara delivery. Now her UC Care choices are to bear the Cottage Hospital Tier 2 charges for herself and the baby (up to $6,000), or to risk having her baby on the open road on the way to UCLA. Another reported: “My wife needs surgery…  so the Sansum doc will do it outpatient rather than have us go to UCLA, or face the Cottage costs.”

Finding UC select providers (i.e., those who count as “in-network”) has proven to be a challenging exercise in Deep Web research. Members reported yesterday that after due diligence, they have not been able to compile a complete list of UC providers, and that insurance specialist personnel at UC medical centers have been unable to tell them which doctors, labs, anesthesiologists and other specializations with privileges at their facilities count as UC providers. (According to a licensed health benefits specialist at BalanceCare, a national health advocacy service provider, most private insurance companies do not provide lists of anesthesiologists, since patients have no control over that selection, but the companies nevertheless routinely rule these to be out-of-network charges, leaving a majority of patients in multi-payer systems with the additional post-surgery task of appealing anesthesiology charges.)

An assistant professor reported: 
I live in Ventura and there is no physician coverage here. The only coverage here are clinics structured to cater to farm workers and the uninsured. Kaiser is not an option for my family, since it too is in another city [Woodland Hills, about 40 miles away]. Seaview Medical Group, a physician group that used to participate with UC, dropped participation with Healthnet Blue & Gold where it formerly participated. To get my family to primary care providers and specialists we have to drive 30 or more miles to Santa Barbara. The doctors in the medical groups in Santa Barbara are oversubscribed and it takes months to get appointments. Given the increased cost, the university effectively dictates which medical practices get UC workers as patients. Mostly this seems to be Sansum Clinic.
This faculty member  has tracked a massive flight of Ventura-area doctors from UC health networks since she first signed on. She reported being told, improbably, that the Ventura conditions are “only a problem for five people.”

Many attendees agreed that doctors in Santa Barbara are heavily over-subscribed and one may wait months for an appointment. Sansum Clinic offered one attendee who requested an ophthalmological consult an appointment in February 2015.

Another faculty member said, 
I signed up for UC Care originally and recently switched to HealthNet. The reason I switched is that I didn't realize that lab work wouldn't be covered as Tier 1 in UC Care, even though the work was done right inside Sansum Clinic.  This can end up costing a lot, as the deductible is quite high. It is frustrating that UC Care costs a lot per month for a family and yet out-of-pocket is also high.
Another was surprised to discover that a leg cast counts as an (out-of-network) lab charge. A third person observed: “In my 14 years as a UC faculty member, I have witnessed higher costs and lower benefits… Did you know our co-pay for mental health has increased about 40% since January?”

Another faculty member’s doctor recommended immediate surgery for a suspicious mass. In order to have that work done at UCLA, the nearest UC Care provider, the faculty member would have had to locate a new doctor, schedule a consultation, a pre-operative appointment and surgery. Fearing the length of time that would take, the UC Care subscriber decided to accept Cottage hospital’s offer to schedule the surgery within five days. This faculty member is still waiting to see what all the bills will add up to.

In a dramatic set of meetings held in front of overflowing crowds last fall, outgoing UCOP CFO Peter Taylor, whose resignation was announced abruptly at the end of March, alleged that Cottage Hospital wants “too much money” from UC. At Wednesday’s meeting, Faculty Association President and labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein called that “egregious,” even if true: “Just leaving us out of the pool defeats the whole point of insurance.” Since it is the nature of insurance that some places and providers are more expensive and some less, the insurance pool is created precisely to even out those differences.

The promise of UC Care was that it would effectively provide the best of both worlds by combining the negotiating power of a single, large-scale payer with the range of choice offered by a menu of multiple plans. In fact it seems to have picked up the worst qualities of each type of system:  It has refused the advantages of single-payer or large-scale systems by denying parity to its campuses and faculty, treating each campus as a separate negotiating entity, and has also refused to allow individual campuses to negotiate for themselves with the local folks they know. So far, this UCOP strategy has not been conspicuously successful. Although Santa Barbara does not have the same quantity of medical facilities some other campuses have nearby, it is not a medical desert; the city does have lab services and a well-regarded hospital and emergency room, which just happen to be unavailable because UCOP failed to reach an agreement with Cottage, and only achieved a one-year agreement with Sansum. Moreover, the changes in faculty benefits also affect the collectives which have a “me too” clause, such as UCSB’s pool of lecturers.

Concerned faculty are calling for an open forum online where they can share information, broken promises, provider experiences and interactions with university administration, and want the Faculty Association to seek legal advice. (The blog has started a page called "Share Your Healthcare Story.")  

The Faculty Association has scheduled a general meeting open to all on May 7, featuring representatives from United Academics, the new collective bargaining group representing tenured, tenure-track and non-tenure track and adjunct faculty, in addition to librarians, research assistants, post-docs, and other academic employees at the University of Oregon. They will talk about similar experiences at the University of Oregon, and how collective bargaining is working out for them. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thursday, April 3, 2014
By Jenna Joo (UCSB)

This was my second visit to the Berkeley Online Learning Summit. The first visit took place a year ago in March, 2013, around the time when the excitement over MOOCs was at its peak. I remember sitting through the panel discussions last year, genuinely worried about the future of higher education as a graduate student who was just entering the field. Will MOOCs be the future? Will MOOCs replace faculty and instructors? Will teaching and learning happen mostly in online in the near future? Fortunately, MOOCs have been greatly challenged since then.

The 2014 Berkeley conference definitely held a very different atmosphere compared to the one held last year. The focus of the conference was on residential institutions (with the majority of the panelists coming from elite institutions)—how they think about their own classroom pedagogies and finances while using technology. The general consensus now is that MOOCs (and technology in general) are not the answer to all the problems we have in higher education. They alone will not ensure cheaper, faster, and better education. Flipped classrooms, small-group discussions and blended learning are increasingly being recognized as the key features of quality learning.

In the session titled, Opportunities for Consideration in K-12 Education, one of the concerns raised was the great divide between K-12 and higher education systems. David Malone, a Teacher on Special Assignment with San Francisco Unified School District, pointed out that different educational systems stress knowledge in different ways. In high school, for example, students are encouraged to take as many AP classes as they can and score high on standardized tests just to get into college. Once they are in college, they are expected to perform higher-order thinking skills such as problem finding, interpreting, and analyzing—all of which do not precisely reflect the kinds of preparation they received prior to entering college. The lack of coordination and communication between the two systems could impede successful transitions and consequently diminish educational opportunity for many students. While “the choices that we (higher education) make will have profound impact on K-12 education” (Justin Reich, HarvardX Research Fellow), there is also a lot we need to learn from K-12 classroom research (Robert Lue, Faculty Director of HarvardX). The two systems are interconnected therefore must be studied together, not apart from each other.

In the Learning Analytics session, the promise of big data to solve problems in education was discussed. Big data from online learning environments can be used in at least two following ways:
  • To improve learning spaces: By employing in-vivo experiments that would allow better understanding of the design spaces, we can redesign and improve learning spaces for future use (Ken Koedinger, Professor in School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon).

  • To implement interventions: By logging meaningful user interactions in online environments, we can inform teachers about “at-risk” students so to implement appropriate interventions (Ryan Baker, Associate Professor in Human Development, Teachers College at Columbia University).

  • What I have noticed from the discussion is that there is a rather obvious divide between research and teaching. I agree that big data can be wisely used, but I would like to know more about exactly how results from such data could actually be used. For example, in what ways, forms, and shapes will they be communicated to teachers? Also, who will have a say in which type of intervention may be appropriate for students? In order for such data to be properly used, there must be an ongoing communication between learning analysts and teachers. While we embrace the promise of big data, we cannot undermine the “invisible” classroom data that teachers “collect” in their day-to-day interactions with students which could inform them about students’ strengths and weaknesses. I think that a lot more is expected of teachers and researchers especially after the post-MOOC era. Teachers must be highly competent and knowledgeable in their subject matters while having the skills to communicate with outside specialists. Researchers likewise need to have the skills to effectively present their findings to teachers, other researchers, and also to the general public.

    There was a lot of discussion on different ways to re-conceptualize and re-imagine student learning. Dr. Eric Grimson (Professor of Medical Engineering and Chancellor of MIT), in his keynote speech, asserted that higher education should change because “our consumers (students/parents of MIT) are changing.” Students in today’s world want more than simply earning a degree in something; they are “eager to learn in a global way.” In an effort to expand access to qualified learners and to re-invent campus education, several ideas have been proposed—one of which is creating “modules,” or a set of independent units with a set of outcomes, to increase flexibility in degree and pedagogy. Moreover, by sharing these modules across departments and individualizing them for field-specific interests, modules can “permit re-bundling of an education in new ways.”

    This is definitely a noble idea, but it needs to be approached with caution. It is true that the demands of students are different in today’s world. According to a blog post in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Jeff Selingo in 2012, the number of college students taking on double majors has sharply increased over the years. Students seek these opportunities in order to meet the demands of the rapidly changing economy and the job market. For students in prestigious universities, doing a double or even a triple major may not be a huge challenge; but this may not be the case for the majority of college students. By re-bundling of education, new highly specialized jobs might emerge that only a very selective group of college graduates may enter into, which may further worsen the already stratified workforce.

    In addition, in an effort to re-think the role of students’ residential experience in terms of their learning spaces, Dr. Grimson noted that MIT is thinking about dropping all of their big lecture halls and replacing them with small, interactive spaces to promote development of collective intelligence. I can positively relate with this idea because I truly believe that active, small-group interactions are the key to learning. However, such interactions must occur via extended and supportive relationships built under trust and respect. I wonder whether our higher education system as a whole has (or will have) the necessary resources to achieve this dream in the near future.

    When Dr. Robert Lue (Faculty Director of HarvardX and Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard) questioned the audience at the end of the conference, “To sustain a healthy and evolving instructional ecosystem, what issue is/was the first priority for your institutions,” “integrated pedagogy” arose as the first priority (35%) and “revenue experiments” as the least priority (6%). Many people are genuinely concerned about student learning and are interested in how best it can be enhanced. Dr. Lue asserted that we really need to think about this within the interconnected “ecosystem” that involves not just faculty and other professionals but also students as “profound collaborators.” Reshaping the future of higher education will definitely require collaborative efforts.

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014
    UC departing Executive Vice-President Peter Taylor gave an interview today to the Daily Bruin.  In it, VP Taylor explained his reasons for leaving UC and also sought to defend his own record as the University's CFO.  Throughout the interview he described his concern for educational access and achievement and expressed worry that UC was losing its chief focus on education and research.  But then there was this:
    DB: In the past, the UC has relied on student-based sources of revenue like tuition increases and non-resident enrollment to resolve issues of lower state funding. What kind of revenue solutions in the next few years would best help the University achieve fiscal sustainability? Any thoughts on what the new tuition model should look like?
    PT: That varies campus to campus, but I can see frankly an increase in professional master’s degree programs, I can see an increase in technology commercialization versus what we do now, in addition to things like a slight increase in nonresident enrollment. We’ll keep pounding away with advocacy at the state level and hope (they) bump up their contributions to where we’d like it to be.

    It is hard to see how this squares with Vice-President Taylor's concern about either the cost of education or core function.  The growing emphasis on technology commercialization causes important distortions in the processes of research.  And the growth of professional master's programs is a sure way to increase student debt.

    Indeed, the recent New America Foundation Report on the growth of graduate student debt was less a report about graduate student debt than a report about the growth of debt for students in master's and professional programs.  By their calculations roughly 40% of $1 trillion student debt is a result of MA programs of one sort or another.  Given how many fewer MA students there are than BA or Associate students, this percentage is remarkable.  In suggesting that UC increase its use of terminal MA programs, Peter Taylor--whether he is aware of this or not--is suggesting a policy through which the University would simply expand its encouragement of student debt and its reliance on a new group of enrollees as a source of cash.

    This is not to say that there may not be good educational reasons for particular programs.  But those should be approached because of educational not financial reasons--and not because there is a plausible market to exploit.  As VP Taylor notes in the interview, "the core competency of the University, the reason we exist, is to teach students and to do academic research."  His actual proposals ignore his own concern.

    It is commendable that Vice-President Taylor wants to step down to help underprivileged students gain access to higher education.  But as his Daily Bruin interview reminds us, the Wall Street perspective that is increasingly dominant in UC finances and throughout higher education is inextricably linked to the imposition of debt onto students.  Let's hope that UC resists the siren song of exploitation.