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Thursday, November 25, 2021

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Date: November 23, 2021 

To: Susannah Scott, Academic Senate Chair, UCSB 

Henry Yang, Chancellor, UCSB 

Cc: Michael V. Drake, UC President 

Cecilia Estolano, Chair, UC Board of Regents 

Robert Horwitz, Chair, UC Academic Senate 

From: Concerned UCSB Senate Faculty 

Re: The planning of Munger Hall at UCSB 

The UCSB Academic Senate Town Hall Meeting, “Faculty Questions on the Munger Hall Project,” held on November 15, 2021, intensified pervasive and significant concerns about 

(a) UCSB administration’s lack of response to fundamental questions about student well-being related to the Munger Hall project, including concerns about mental health, physical safety, security, and accessibility; 

(b) student housing options on campus and future housing projects; 

(c) building funding, planning and construction processes at UCSB; 

(d) abrogation of the right of faculty shared governance; 

(e) the impact of these decisions on UCSB’s stated commitment to social justice and equity; 

(f) UCSB administration’s failure to adequately take into account and address the opinion of experts in architectural design and rethink the design to ensure student well-being. 

To elaborate:

On the Design of Munger Hall: A broad swath of architectural design and housing experts both within and outside the university have criticized the design. Among its many problems we call particular attention to: (i) lack of natural light and ventilation—particularly the absence of openable windows; (ii) floor plan that reveals poor organization of space at the scale of the rooms, the suites, and the entire floor space at each level; (iii) inadequate thought given to student accommodation and well-being, given what we know about virus transmission, quarantine, and recovery in situations such as COVID-19; (iv) poor wayfinding and evacuation plans that would greatly endanger students in fires, earthquakes and other disasters; (v) massing and volume; (vi) environmental sustainability. 

We, the faculty, are gravely concerned by these issues, and we urge the UCSB administration, including Chancellor Yang, to address openly, explicitly and responsibly the many questions regarding the current design’s impact on the safety, security and mental well-being of the students. These fundamental questions were not answered at the November 15 Town Hall meeting and we urge the administration to answer them now. 

On Due Process: A key reason for the current state of affairs is that the usual design review process that has governed campus construction over the last 30 years was bypassed. The request-for-proposal stage of the design review process was ignored, thereby eliminating potential competition to Munger’s design. When the design review committee and its panel of architects were asked to comment, their views were not adequately taken into account. 

We have two options to move forward: 

1. Stop the plans. Begin the entire design process again following the established procedures of the design review committee. 

2. Halt the process and modify the plans. Consider the advice of a joint committee of experts on design, health and safety, drawn from both outside and inside UCSB, including Academic Senate Members and student representatives. The UCSB Academic Senate must have a say in the composition of such a panel of experts, the issues they will be asked to consider, and the way in which their recommendations would be implemented. 

We wish to send a clear message to the Chancellor, UC Office of the President, the UC Board of Regents, and the donor, that we will not accept inequitable and unsafe options for student housing. 

While we recognize the measures that must be taken to resolve the immediate housing crisis, we call on UCSB to democratically and transparently develop a long-range housing plan that ensures safety, affordability, community responsibility, and environmental sustainability for students, faculty, and staff. Not only does UCSB have a responsibility in this regard, but so do the President of the University and the UC Board of Regents. 

Sincerely, Concerned UCSB Senate Faculty, including, 

Constance Penley 

Swati Chattopadhyay 

Laurie Monahan 

Eileen Boris 

Dominique Jullien 

Bishnupriya Ghosh 

Lisa Hajjar 

Jeffrey Stopple 

Bassam Bamieh 

John Majewski Richard Wittman 

Ann Bermingham 

Michael Curtin 

Ann Jensen Adams 

Omer Egecioglu 

Mark A. Meadow 

Harold Marcuse 

Catherine L. Albanese 

Heather Badamo 

Sabine Frühstück 

William Robinson 

Barbara Herr Harthorn 

Herbert M. Cole 

David White 

Steven Gaulin 

Bhaskar Sarkar 

Kip Fulbeck 

Barbara A. Holdrege 

William Elison 

Kate McDonald 

Christina Vagt 

Juan E. Campo 

Arpit Gupta 

Julie Carlson 

Elisabeth Weber 

Stephan Miescher 

Jenni Sorkin 

Janet Walker 

Kevin B. Anderson 

Nancy Gallagher 

Aazam Feiz 

Hilary Bernstein 

Wolf Kittler 

John S. W. Park 

Silvia Bermudez 

Sara Pankenier Weld 

Marko Peljhan 

Jorge Castillo 

Jill Levine 

Evelyn Reder 

Kim Yasuda 

Erika Rappaport 

James Frew 

Janet Afary 

Fabio Rambelli 

Amr El Abbadi 

Giuliana Perrone 

Salim Yaqub 

Elena Aronova 

Cristina Venegas 

Stuart Tyson Smith 

Phill Conrad 

Volker M. Welter 

Adrienne Edgar 

Joseph Blankholm 

Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi 

Catherine Nesci 

John W. I. Lee 

Sylvester O. Ogbechie 

Daniel Masterson 

Grace Chang 

Daniel Reeve 

Enda Duffy 

Roberta L. Rudnick 

Leroy Laverman 

Walid Afifi 

Iman Djouini 

Cherrie Moraga 

Dorota Dutsch 

Mark Maslan 

Charmaine Chua 

Roberto Strongman 

Amrah Salomón J. 

Ralph Armbruster Sandoval 

Carlos J. Garcia-Cervera 

Darren Long 

Sharon Tettegah 

Aashish Mehta 

Kaustav Banerjee 

Miroslava Chavez-Garcia 

Helen Morales 

Casey Walsh 

Terrance Wooten 

Birge Huisgen-Zimmermann 

Felice Blake 

Juan Cobo Betancourt 

Mario Garcia 

Scott Marcus 

Ingrid Banks 

Jody Enders 

Nelson Lichtenstein 

France Winddance Twine 

Lisa Jevbratt 

Ellen McCracken 

Juan Pablo Lupi 

Gisela Kommerell 

Edwina Barvosa 

Jeremy Douglass 

Valentina L. Padula 

Mayfair Yang 

Harvey Molotch 

Sven Spieker 

Monday, November 15, 2021

Monday, November 15, 2021
By Richard Wittman
Associate Professor,
Department of the History of Art and Architecture, UCSB
for today's Academic Senate Town Hall meeting, 
in collaboration with the UCSB Architectural Historians Group

Thank you very much for the invitation to speak here today. Time is short, so I will dive right in.

Munger Hall is a highly experimental design based on completely untested theories. It crams over 4500 young undergraduates into tiny windowless bedrooms at a density comparable to some of the densest urban concentrations in the world. And yet it claims that it will have beneficial effects on student well-being, and poses them no danger. What is the evidence for this claim? There is none! 

Munger Hall is justified uniquely by the unsupported, fact-free assertions of the billionaire architectural hobbyist who conceived it. It cannot be said often enough: no serious supporting data has been brought forth to support the claims made in favor of this outlandish design. And yet UCSB is proposing not a small experimental building, but a pharaonic investment of $1.5 billion in what would be the largest dormitory building in the world. It is difficult to exaggerate how completely irresponsible this would be: to gamble on that scale on a project whose entire rationale is untested and which is regarded skeptically by an almost universal consensus of knowledgeable professionals. And to make that gamble with the wellbeing of our UCSB students.

This project is also a slap in the face to recent global efforts in the architecture industry to mitigate environmental degradation and climate change. A key tenet of those efforts is sustainability. Sustainability refers to passive strategies to reduce energy consumption, like considering sun orientation when sitting, or being thoughtful about window placement; it refers to using renewable energy sources like solar and wind power, and low environmental-impact building materials. The current design of Munger Hall essentially ignores these strategies, for instance by shutting out the sunlight that is one of Santa Barbara’s most abundant natural resources. 

Do not be deceived by the building’s LEED Gold certification. The LEED system is widely recognized as a problematic guideline that very often has more of a public relations value than a real connection to environmental outcomes. Munger Hall exemplifies this, as it is based on an outdated, unsustainable approach to building, in which the building fundamentally depends on mechanical systems to defeat and exclude nature, and to create an entirely artificial environment.

The design of Munger Hall is profoundly problematic in terms of our students’ mental and physical health. There is clear scientific evidence that a lack of natural light and ventilation has adverse impacts on human beings. (As the LA Times recently reported, even prison design in the US is required to provide windows, as well as lower density.) 

But also consider the COVID pandemic. Imagine living in a windowless cell, somewhere near the core of the most densely packed building you’ve ever lived in (or ever will live in), during a pandemic, when every knowledgeable party is telling you that the safest place is outdoors and at a distance from other people. Imagine having to quarantine for two weeks in such a windowless cell. Graduate students at Mr Munger’s Michigan dorm building have had to do just this, and have spoken wrenchingly about the effect it had on their mental health. Being ill is never fun, but being ill in Munger Hall would be hell.

We know that there is a severe housing crisis in the Santa Barbara area. We all have students who have been unable to find lodgings, or who are even living in cars. We are not utopians who oppose Munger Hall out of obliviousness to the problem it is meant to solve. (And we certainly don’t oppose it because we are “idiots” or because we “hate billionaires,” as Charlie Munger has so charmingly alleged in his public remarks.) 

No, we oppose this building project because it is a disgrace. Because it will damage the wellbeing of our students. Because no serious evidence has been provided to support the claims its boosters have made about its benefits. Because it will damage the reputation of our university. Because it betrays UCSB’s commitment to safeguarding our natural environment.

Indeed, Munger Hall has already turned UCSB into the target of critical articles in all the major US papers and in many foreign ones too. My colleagues and I launched a petition about Munger Hall and received nearly 3000 signatures in a week! A petition by an undergraduate who targeted undergraduate social networks received over 12,000 signatures! Meanwhile, barely a single credible voice supports this design. 

Our petition has had dozens and dozens of comments from past, present, and potential future UCSB parents saying that they would not allow their child to live in Munger Hall, or in some cases even to go to UCSB if Munger Hall were built. The message is pretty clear: the stakes are high; the leadership at UCSB needs to step away from this monstrous project, the sooner the better, before lasting damage is done.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Friday, October 1, 2021

As the pandemic is brought under control, will conditions on UC campuses get better, get worse, or stay the same for the indefinite future? 

The evidence for "better" boils down to two things. First is the official UCOP interpretation of this year's legislative budget as one of the best increases ever, and thus a sign of state generosity to come. Second is the passage of the "cohort-tuition" plan, which will break the decade freeze on tuition income. The lead budget officials at regents' meetings, Nathan Brostrom and David Alcocer, have stressed the value of getting increases in both the state and tuition components rather than relying on increases on the state side only, where even a 5% increase translates into a 2% improvement in core funds, once it's averaged with zero on the tuition side. 

On the first point, the Academic and Student Affairs Committee was informed that "The 2021-22 State Budget provides the University of California with the largest-ever single-year funding increase, totaling $1.27 billion dollars."  Unfortunately, this greatly inflates ongoing funding. The net increase in continuing state funding is $243.5 million. I defined this real increase in relation to Gavin Newsom's May Revision. The permanent funding increase is slightly bigger in the final budget. 

UC Ongoing General Fund


2020-2021 (with cut retroactively restored)


2 year cumulative change

May Revision

$3,724.3 M

$3,766.0 M



Summer Final

$3,724.3 M

$3,766.0 M



Budget nerds will be pleased to see UC breaking the magic $4 billion barrier it has being aiming at for 20 years.  But the real news is the budget is the explosion of earmarked funds for special purposes.  The unallocated increase in general funding is $173.2 million. Everything else is a designated fund: for example, "$3 million for animal rescue operations in natural disasters."  9 such items get permanent funding. One-time funding goes to 27 more. I've never seen budgetary reach-in quite like this. In 2016-17, for example, there were 6+4 such earmarks.  The legislature is now treating UC as a platform for enacting pet projects, arriving from who knows where, that apparently fit less well in other state agencies. They incur costs to operate, so it's not obvious that they are even net positive in all cases. Long story short, the state reversed last year's $302 million cut and added $173 million this year, with $325 million in one-time funding for deferred maintenance (defined this year as a $7 billion systemwide problem).  Those are the meaningful items.  UC has no big boost from state funding.

The other half is cohort tuition, where each entering class has flat tuition for up to 6 years, but the next year's class pays more--the inflation rate plus an increment that declines annually from 2.0% to 0.  That will net in round numbers somewhat more than $100 million a year once it gets going.  UC tuition revenue is in the $4 billion range, so the new tuition plan will add 2 or 3% to the total.  Net benefit to core funds is around half that. A 1.0-1.5% increase to core funds is at best a steady-state number. 

These modest increases don't reflect increased costs.  UCOP estimates costs going up 4% a year no matter what. The most irresponsible omission is COVID-19 costs (including related losses). UCOP estimates somewhat more than $2 billion in lost revenues (Display 4); add to that an unknown amount of ongoing health mitigation costs (testing, quarantining, cleaning, and so on). The Democratic legislature pretended that these didn't exist when they cut $302 million at the height of the pandemic, and they are still pretending. Campuses will absorb these costs from their operating budgets, and that will mean cuts elsewhere.  

The state's refusal to fund has some familiar dimensions.  Employer contributions to retirement and capital construction are the two that will be known to readers (see the Essential Charts for a primer).  Pandemic shortfalls were covered by new UC debt, which also funded ongoing construction and other costs: UC took on an additional $6 billion in debt in the last fiscal year. This will have to be paid down out of med center and campus operating funds.  Debt translates a short-term into a long-term cost (see Alex Usher's good cross-national discussion). 

Another likely unfunded mandate is new resident enrollment.  In the mid-2010s, the Democratic legislature started not liking how high non-resident enrollments had gone, but also didn't like paying full cost for resident students (around $10,000 per head).  This hurt campus quality in the 2010s, particularly during the growth years after 2015, and is a major future issue, since "UC 2030" could hit quality again because of the growth involved--to increase degree output by 251,000 in this decade to meet state workforce needs.  This has been modified to adding 20,000 more resident students this decade, some at the graduate level (see the September meeting's planning document).  

Since at various points in its history UC has been hurt by underfunded growth, Brostrom and Alcocer emphasized the need for the state to follow through with funding this time: both to fund this enrollment growth and to fund the replacement of non-resident students with lower-paying residents (on the latter, see Mikhail Zinshteyn's overview).  They noted that the legislature has not funded some recent required growth, and showed this slide. 

In short, UC had recently added around 10,000 students who paid tuition but didn't bring any of the state funding they might have assumed their family taxes had paid for, so couldn't take another 20,000 on the same terms.

At this point, rolling all this together, you might conclude that UC campuses in the 2020s won't get better, but with all this UCOP vigilance about the state keeping its funding promises, at least they won't get worse.

This presentation occurred on the Finance and Capital Strategies Committee on September 29, chaired by Michael Cohen.  Before opening the floor for questions, he offered his response (at 2:22.30 once you scroll down this page). 

I've said this before, but I think it's important to repeat, particularly giving our conversation coming tomorrow about enrollment growth, that, sort of framing our budget ask in terms of, "oh, we were shorted money five years ago, and have been living with it ever since," as doing this in the unfunded enrollment context, I think is absolutely the wrong approach, and it really makes the university come off as, "well, we only serve students because we get paid for them, and we're not going to serve them if we don't get paid for them." 

So certainly the legislature has been very generous in its commitment to buy down our nonresident enrollment, and has really put a shining light on the need for the university to enroll students. But to suggest that we need to be paid back, for students we've been serving for years, it's just going to fall on deaf ears. And, frankly, it goes against all of the arguments the university made for years in that it wanted funding undesignated, and general purpose, so that they could decide the best way to use the funds. So, I hope that, when you bring back the budget in November, you heed these words and don't really emphasize this notion, which I don't even buy, of, you know, unfunded enrollment going back five plus years. 

Got that? Me neither. Clearly Brostrom and Alcocer's point was that the University did serve all students that were over the targeted enrollment that the state funded.  Regardless, Cohen in effect rejected all statements that tie doing things to having resources for them, such as "I would like to start my car, but I need gas in my tank"; "I would like to keep living in my apartment, but  I lost my job and can't pay rent"; "with extra enrollments, I need to offer 650 classes in each class period, but have only 615 classrooms"; "my professional staff requests a 3% salary increase, but the state has budgeted 0% for that."  Rejecting the need for resources makes perfect sense -- as a labor of self-exoneration, since Cohen the regent is also Cohen the former budget director for Jerry Brown, and is thus the same person who didn't send the state money with the new UC students. But never mind, and enjoy picturing the world in which all Cohen cars start without fuel, no Cohen tenants are ever evicted, and all Cohen colleges run on goodwill toward students. 

Cohen's outburst had the predictable effect, which was to censor budget discussion and forestall calls for UC to reject unfunded growth (since that lowers per-students resources and quality).  No one objected to teaching grossly underfunded students, including the representatives of the Academic Senate.  The show moved on.

So what is really the plan here?  

It's not to insure that public university students learn about as much as private university students.  They aren't getting--or asking for--the money for that. 

It's not to increase access without diluting quality. Current budgets encourage, say, increasing biology B.A output by cutting math requirements, or maintaining study abroad enrollments by eliminating foreign language acquisition.

It's not to overcome structural racism by insuring that minority-majority campuses are as well-funded as white campuses.  That kind of budget justice is not being supported. 

It's not to reverse the shift away from tenure-track hiring or to fund significant staff cost-of-living increases.

It is not to reduce financial burden for UC students. Solving grad student rent burden is off the table. So is reducing the academic costs of student debt.  A UCOP talking point has been that net cost of attendance will go up more slowly with cohort tuition increases than with flat tuition for all but the most affluent students. (The grounds are that higher tuition funds higher financial aid.)  In fact, student self-help expectation starts high even for the poorest UC students (about $11,000 per year for under $20,000 in family income, Display 6), and under the cohort plan, goes higher (to around $15,000 for the under $20,000s by 2028-29). Self-help expectation is set by campus officials, and is money that students who don't have private assets must earn by working while enrolled, which reduces study, or by taking on debt. The best solution for students would be low tuition so aid covers all living costs and their self-help expectation approaches zero).  But that is not anything UCOP or the legislature would currently discuss.  The large share of UC students who struggle with daily life will continue in the 2020s to struggle with daily life.

The plan is also not to increase funding for cultural and social research, which depends on institutional funds, though there is an obvious crying public need.

The plan is to do workforce-oriented enrollment growth at the lowest possible cost.  It focuses on quantity rather than quality of degrees. It defines educational value through graduates' future earnings, which means directing majors towards professions that pay more. It means reserving any new direct federal funding for 2-year colleges, tweaking financial aid (increasing Pell Grant maximums), and supporting funds that go directly to students or to student support programs, like the Student Academic Preparation and Educational Partnerships (SAPEP) program, one of UC's 27 one-time earmarks. (Note also that the "Proposed 2030 Framework Investments" are split about 50/50 between hiring new faculty to teach 20,000 more students and growing student support programs [Display 6], thus halving the faculty hiring.)  It also means burying quality problems behind the marketing of UC excellence: UC dominates the public university rankings, and recent news of Berkeley as Forbes #1 and US News' Top 10 publics mostly UC campuses confirms zero incentive to increase investment.  The same is true for the extremely high rejection rates at many UC campuses, further hardening the aura of impregnable prestige. UC's per-student resources are well below their level of 20 years ago, but so what, since its rankings are so very high--and applicant demand is through the roof? People like me argue that these rankings are not only invalid but now oddly immune to matters of educational quality, and selectivity obviously conflicts with access, and yet their image-making power, and the genuinely high quality of UC faculty, staff and students as individuals, pave the yellow-brick road to low-cost growth.  

Usher sums it up well when he writes, "there are very few places with extra domestic billions to spend out there, and where there are . . . as often as not, they want to spend the money to make existing spaces cheaper, not expand the number of spaces or make existing education better."  UC is options 1 and 2--more and cheaper. This Workforce UC isn't fated, but fixing it will mean a fight.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

By Dylan Rodríguez, Professor, Department of Media and Cultural Studies, UC Riverside


Dear Chancellor Wilcox and UCR Administrative Colleagues:


Please accept this note as my formal response to your invitation to join the Chancellor’s Campus Safety Workgroup. I am writing to contextualize my response with a concise analysis of the UC Riverside Campus Safety Task Force’s “Report and Recommendations” of March 18, 2021, which was finalized after a mere three months of deliberation. I note that Chancellor Wilcox circulated a campus memo four days later that declared his unqualified endorsement of the Task Force document, claiming that “for many years, we have been striving at UC Riverside to redefine campus safety in a way that addresses the needs of our diverse community.”

I write to you as a researcher and scholar who has published widely on the topic of United States policing over more than two decades. My work pays particular attention to the historical conditions of police violence that consistently create asymmetrical casualties among targeted and criminalized communities, bodies, and geographies. 

While the UCR Task Force Report acknowledges that “systemic racism exists in U.S. society and in policing, and must be eliminated wherever possible,” its nine recommendations fail to challenge the fundamental centrality of police power to the university’s infrastructure and everyday operations. At first glance, the Task Force appears to advocate a modest downscaling of the UCRPD’s campus presence. Upon further analysis, however, its proposals cultivate an expansion of police power through the deputization of campus staff and administrators to act as civilian surrogates of the police department. Perhaps most revealingly, campus employees in specific units (including Student Affairs, Human Resources, and the Title IX office) are expected “to pair and cross-train [with] public safety personnel [e.g. UCRPD officers].” The Report does not bother to elaborate on the substance of such “pairing and cross-training” other than to indicate that select staff and administrators will be expected to build collegial relationships with the UCRPD that, by extension, further legitimize and extend the reach of campus police power by institutionalizing what amounts to a civilian/employee shadow police force.

The paradigm of “campus safety” operationalized by the Task Force Report fails to remotely heed the widespread, growing body of both university-based and community-accountable research, organizational innovation, and institutional leadership exemplified by students, faculty, staff, administrators, and concerned community members (including survivors of police harassment and violence) at educational institutions like Peralta Community College District and Oakland Unified School District, both of which have effectively eliminated police presence at their college and school campuses. Rather, by appropriating and distorting a pedagogical framework widely used by abolitionist researchers, activists, organizers, and teachers for much of the early 21st century—“Re-imagining Campus Safety”—the UCR Task Force offers a series of recommendations that allege to take steps “toward narrowing the role of traditional law enforcement” by “[integrating] UCR’s Police Department into a more comprehensive Campus Safety Division.” The history of modern police reforms indicates that such proposals expand the bureaucratic, ideological, cultural, and institutional capacity of policing and police violence in their various forms, from surveillance and harassment to crowd control, involuntary hospitalization, and bodily (sexual) assault. Regrettably, the Task Force Report proposes a reorganization and redistribution of police power that rests on an “[integration of] campus safety activities, including prevention and response, more deliberately with existing campus-based programs that address issues such as mental health, domestic violence, sexual harassment, and drug or alcohol abuse.”[i]

Such reforms of campus police power replicate the widely criticized models of “community policing” attributed to well-known late-20th and early-21st century police administrators like Daryl Gates, William Bratton, and numerous others who have implemented scaled-up versions of similar policing protocols in Los Angeles, New York City, and numerous other locales known for rampant, normalized gendered antiblack police violence.[ii] To invoke David Correia and Tyler Wall’s entry on “community policing” in their indispensable keyword text Police: A Field Guide, “advocates for community policing claim that it offers a suite of best practices and policies that promote collaboration and partnership with communities as a way to enlist the active support of an entire community in the fabrication of social order.”[iii] 

Widely read policing scholar Kristian Williams further crystallizes the philosophical, organizational, and strategic logic of community policing in terms that anticipate the boilerplate proposals of the UCR Task Force:


Philosophically, community policing is characterized by the solicitation of citizen input, the broadening of the police function, and the attempt to find solutions based on the values of the local community. Organizationally, community policing requires that departments be restructured such as to de-centralize command, flatten hierarchies, reduce specialization, civilianize staff positions, and encourage teamwork. Strategically, community policing efforts reorient operations away from random patrols and responding to 911 calls, towards more directed, proactive, and preventive activities.[iv] [emphasis added]


The UCR Task Force’s recommendations are attempting to solve a “legitimacy problem” for the UCPD in the context of unprecedented challenges to its institutional power and reach. “The legitimacy problem for police,” as Correia and Wall write, “is about the legitimacy to use violence.  Community policing is not about making police friendlier, but about making police violence more acceptable.”[v]

Numerous members of the UC community have repeatedly testified that “police violence” is not limited to incidents of bodily harm, and includes everyday forms of gendered antiblack, racist, ableist, transphobic, and queerphobic harassment, surveillance, profiling, detention, and intimidation that manifest in the mere presence of a campus police force. Unless there are sustained and accelerated attempts at collective critical analysis, shared study, and concrete institutional intervention, the next phase of campus police reforms at UCR and beyond will directly reflect the logics of collaboration, re-legitimation, and deputization outlined by Correia, Wall, Williams, and many others.[vi]


        I acknowledge your invitation dated May 24, 2021 to join the “Chancellor’s Campus Safety Workgroup,” chaired by Provost Liz Watkins. I acknowledge that part of the agenda for this workgroup entails “[integrating] UCPD into the new Division of Campus Health, Well-being, and Safety,” thus expanding the reach of the campus police to include mediated involvement in matters related to mental and physiological trauma, illness, and vulnerability. For these reasons among the others previously outlined above as well as in a previously published article, i respectfully decline this invitation.




[i] “UC Riverside Campus Safety Task Force Report and Recommendations,” p. 2.

[ii] See Kristian Williams, “Ch. 9, Your Friendly Neighborhood Police State,” Our Enemies In Blue: Police and Power in America (2004) (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2007), p. 197-222.

[iii] David Correia and Tyler Wall, Police: A Field Guide (London: Verso Press, 2018), p. 130.

[iv] Williams, Our Enemies In Blue, p. 204.

[v] Correia and Wall, p. 130.

[vi] See Christian Parenti, Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis (London: Verso, 2001); Alex S. Vitale, The End of Policing. (London: Verso, 2017); Stuart Schrader, Badges Without Borders: How Global Counterinsurgency Transformed American Policing (Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2019).

Monday, May 24, 2021

Monday, May 24, 2021
A few things have happened since California Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed an austerity budget in January

State tax receipts came in higher than expected (though they will not rise next year).

A recall campaign collected signatures amounting to the required 12 percent of registered voters, so Newsom is now running for governor. 

Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan sent the state $27 billion.

And Biden's three big Plans far outstripped anything California Democrats have offered the state since Grey Davis was recalled in 2003, leaving them paddling in Biden's wake. 

Needing to get out in front of Biden's quasi-New Deal advance, and to show some post-pandemic achievement, on May 14th Newsom announced his "generational" state budget, a "historic, transformational budget."  Here of course we welcome with open arms Newsom's recognition that solving California's problems means massive government spending, since it is true. The K-12 increases are especially welcome, as are those trying to reduce the state's long epidemic of houselessness. 

Yet like Biden, Newsom sees a narrowed function for four-year colleges and universities, and is funding them accordingly, meaning meagerly.

The press did find his historic numbers hard to follow.  Writing in the LA Times, John Myers noted the range of the proposals 

The governor’s list of spending priorities, which rely on a surprise cash infusion spread over several years that is projected to ultimately top $100 billion, is dizzying: money to house those who are homeless, support entrepreneurs, train workers, educate students and connect them to the internet, fix roadways, prevent wildfires and strengthen California’s power grid.

He then added politely, "It could be some time before the numbers outlined by Newsom can be fully reconciled. The governor frequently uses unorthodox ways to measure state spending, lumping together dollar amounts that span multiple years." The $100 billion in economic assistance translates into a budget increase of $40 billion in the current year--still an excellent increase, but one that should be defined correctly.

Reconciliation will involve a couple of simple moves. One is to separate multi-year from single-year numbers. Myers does that in contrasting the headline $100 billion with the annual $40 billion.

The other move that's especially relevant to higher ed budgeting is separating ongoing from one-time funds. The former commits the state to program building over time. The latter does not. 

UC's president and Board of Regents chair issued a statement to say, "The University of California is deeply grateful to Gov. Newsom for proposing the largest state investment in UC’s history: more than $807 million."  In his press conference (around minute 52 in the version helpfully archived by Dan Mitchell) Newsom correctly describes the permanent investment as an increase in $506 million. It's better than the $136 million he proposed in January. But as with all these budget announcements, don't read the headline, read the top line (in the slide at the top).

Here's the table that Newsom's Department of Finance published, in the Higher Education section of the May Revision.

The second row of figures is UC's Ongoing General Fund. Newsom and legislative Democrats cut UC's general fund during the pandemic year; later they decided to give it back, but not until the following year (2021-22). 

We can redo the table so that it tracks only the state's permanent commitment to UC, in the form of ongoing general funds.  I give the one-time general fund restoration back to the year to which it belongs--2020-21.  

UC Ongoing General Fund


2020-2021 (with cut retroactively restored)


2 year cumulative change


$3,724.3 M

$3,766.0 M



The one-year increase is 5.5 percent. Note that UC's GF allocation still falls short of the magic $4 billion ceiling it's been trying to break through for twenty years (in unadjusted dollars, so the real problem is worse--I discussed this issue in "Shortfall," covering the history that made Newsom's January budget such an affront).  

This increase is obviously better, but you don't get to break the $4 B barrier by restoring a cut to permanent general funds one year late. More importantly, an average annual increase of a bit more than 3¼ percent does not qualify as "the largest state investment in UC history."  It doesn't justify the "huge budget boost" trumpet blast in this LA Times headline, or the statement cosigned by UC president Drake and board chair Pérez.

There are other commitments, all one time, where the main money goes to 2 things: workforce preparedness and student housing.  

State underfunding has helped turn student housing into a scandal of private development, one that has led to overpricing, blown open this March when UCSD housing announced average rent increases for doctoral and professional students of 31 percent. Newsom proposes $4 billion (over 2 years) for a "low-cost student housing grant program focused on expanding the availability of affordable student housing." The money may well go to subsidize the private developers that helped cause the affordability problem--details are sparse.  It's a major problem, but would best be solved by the state restarting continuing allocations to capital projects, which it ended around 2006.

For the workforce, Newsom proposes $1 billion (over 2 years) "to establish the Learning-Aligned Employment program, which would promote learning-aligned, long-term career development for UC, CSU, and CCC students." The money would form a permanent endowment.  Again there are no details: much better student advising is not mentioned, but employer partnerships are, so it may turn out to be a state subsidy for apprenticeship programs. 

Newsom proposes little or nothing in core needs.  Deferred Maintenance, a problem totaling tens of billions, gets $325 million in one-time funding, which for DM is a contradiction in terms. UCLA's Asian American Studies Center gets $5 million in one-time funding to research "the prevention of hate incidents." He recommends $40 million more than that for the animal shelter medicine program at Davis. 

A better way to fight racist hate crimes would be to fully fund critical ethnic studies, gender, queer, and trans studies, political theory, sociology, history, and the other non-STEM fields that study these issues systematically and have long offered detailed solutions. That is not happening, and I will return to this issue a bit later this year.

Newsom's thinking aligns with Biden's and the national party in a few important ways. They both continue the decades-old drift toward giving public funds to students rather than to institutions.  Student money escapes the instructional and (non-sponsored) research core, whose complexity and costs keep rising, but whose growth in operating money does not keep up. 

Second, they are using higher ed as a kind of renewed welfare state. Newsom knows it is politically hard to address the state's housing affordability crisis with a massive public housing program for working- and middle-class people, but politically easy to subsidize private developers to build public housing for students.  The public colleges' working poor would be affordably housed for a few years. 

The same goes for health and related social services (legal support for undocumented students, food security, transition support for formerly incarcerated students).  I favor this full suite of public support systems--it's the point of the Real College movement--but want them to be integrated into the society at large, funded through progressive taxation of the overall population, and not used as a substitute for funding advanced education.  

Third, Newsom and Biden see higher education as workforce training for economic growth. They also tie that mainly to community colleges rather than to four-year degrees.  Newsom bundles his two biggest one-time programs into an aggregate with a largish headline number that must be shared by the 3 segments, and which treats the segments and their students as the same.  Newsom is joining Biden in demoting four-year colleges and universities, which is an anti-progressive trend that universities will need to fight.

This budget is a lot better than a cut. But it's not the New New Deal.  I'd feel better about where it might lead had president Drake and board chair Pérez described it accurately and set out ongoing needs.  But they did not.  

Here's an update of the January chart, for context.


Monday, May 3, 2021

Monday, May 3, 2021

Various universities have hosted a range of events leading up May 3rd's abolitionist Day of Refusal, meaning a strike day. This is meant to kick off a month of direct actions (described on the Cops off Campus website) to raise awareness of the necessity and the possibility of converting most or all policing functions to constructive forms of safety practices, care, and community engagement.  

During the George Floyd phase of the Black Lives Matter movement last year, ideas about police replacement arrived in the mainstream media, like these good ones from a Princeton sociologist in the Washington Post.  If campus police departments had been formed to reduce the chances of regular cops busting student heads during anti-Vietnam war protests in the 1960s and 1970s, student heads were now in greater danger from campus police during contemporary protests--or non-protests: UCPD found the limelight in 2006 when UCLA police tasered a student who was studying in Powell Library.

When the UC Regents passed large tuition hikes in 2009 and 2011, students protested them. Various forms of UCPD misconduct wound up in the public eye, with beatings and arrests at UC Berkeley in November 2011, including of campus faculty (see Prof. Celeste Langan's post about her arrest, and Prof. Greg Levine's recap of political repression against campus protest).  UCPD-Davis's Sgt. Pike then went on a world-famous pepper-spray rampage. This killed off any lingering sense that campus police were special--more collaborative and communicative, less anti-student, less violent towards the unresisting than off-campus forces.  

In reaction, UCOP sponsored a report (Edley and Robinson, 2012) on UCPD conduct, but not much happened. Police abuse also did not become a tenure-track faculty issue. For example,  Davis faculty senate sided with Chancellor Katehi while condemning Sgt Pike's actions. The 2009-13 period offers a long, dynamic example of why policing activists are so deeply skeptical about "police reform."   

A defining campus cop incident occurred in July 2015, when a University of Cincinnati police officer killed Samuel Dubose during a routine traffic stop off campus. After this, the media paid more attention to the greater opacity of campus police reporting, their lesser training compared to municipal departments in many jurisdictions, and their not-so-different bad treatment of people from marginalized groups. 

The protests that really brought out the police were opposed to the effects of austerity policies that the university itself was  unable or unwilling to oppose. These were often tuition hikes that disparately punished poor students and students of color. These protests worked, with the nail in coffin being protests in 2014).  The state did not replace missing tuition hikes with meaningful state increases, as we've had occasion to note, so austerity effects continue to the present day. The grad student COLA strike at UC Santa Cruz in 2019-20 was another turn of the screw. They brought heavy police containment of strikers by various police forces, and appeared to be part of a strategy of physically intimidating the students to drop the strike.  

Photo Credit: Merc News

The later administrative suspension of the strikers who withheld grades (see Michael's overview), made policing again seem an extension of administrative refusal to take student concerns seriously, deliberate democratically, and find adequate funding for the educational core. 

In 2020, UCLA faculty discovered that the LAPD geeks arrested BLM protesters on a campus baseball field named for the barrier-breaking Black baseball legend and UCLA alum Jackie Robinson. This suggested that the one big advantage of the UCPD--that they were not the LAPD--could be readily set aside.  

Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict--in the Minneapolis trial of George Floyd's killer--coupled with ongoing police killings in the days before and after, have increased an interest in permanent policing changes that goes all the way to the White House. It's into this context that UCOP has recently launched proposals for changes in UC police policy. They include a ludicrous plan to form a kind of UC SWAT that would be deployed around the state to tamp down alleged unrest.  Here you can find Dylan Rodriguez discussing Cops Off Campus in the context of policing task forces, and Michael recently posting on the UC police proposals

Another good place for background on the no- combined issues of overall police conversion and stopping a new militarization of UCPD is this UCSB Faculty Association post. It has a number of links to statements and explainers about local and national dimensions, as well as its own statement, which nicely represents TT faculty who've mostly focused on faculty welfare, academic freedom, administrative misconduct, and budgeting coming to take a meaningful stand on campus police transformation, and linking it to core faculty concerns. 

Of course I can't stop without making a budget point. The political economy of universities is now pressuring units toward for-profit activities. The function of policing in this model was nicely described in a big Reclaim UC post last year.  It itemizes UC police budgets and also offers an important analysis of how policing fits into a skewed administrative understanding of risk management. Here I'll close with a simpler point about quantities of expenditure.  Reclaim UC notes that UCSB's police budget was just under $11 million in 2018-19 (the UC range of base budgets is from $5 million to $22.4 million in that year).  The 2019-20 grad COLA strike was for a pay increase that would eliminate "rent burden" for grad workers. My calculation at the time was that to take all rent burdened UCSB grads out of burden would cost UCSB about $5.2 million a year--or around half of the police budget.  (I'll do the math in a future post on the new rent hikes at UCSD.)

I hope Abolition May moves the debate toward some deep and comprehensive police conversion.