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by Jason Overman
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Wednesday, November 26, 2003
It's certainly been a week of everything going to shit for Cal. Outside of the Big Game.
Ms. Stein is probably correct-- the spending by the GA is probably legal according to UCOP regulations. Hence the University allowing it, which I'm arguing isn't so much 'we're letting them spend this one,' as a beautiful piece of press management coupled with power politics. Allowing the spending with a stern reprimand and additional regulations is a superb way to disguise their really weak legal case to stop the spending.
But what isn't mentioned, and should be the next pressing concern, is the credit rating of the ASUC. There hasn't been enough mention of how, for all the torturous University struggles to avoid lawsuits, we are on the hook for some $28,000 of vendor spending. I'm not sure if they sue the ASUC or the individuals that promised them the money, but they have both the right and the means to sue. I'm surprised they haven't already. I wish I could share Mr. Kashmiri's confidence that all this will end in a complete victory for the students and ASUC.
GSIs are intending to strike. The University is promising that everything will be fine for students if they take off.
All final exams and class meetings will go forward as scheduled, but under extraordinary circumstances, regulations on “Pass/Not Pass” grades, alternative final exams and grading deadlines will be relaxed, campus officials said.Be concerned! This could well lead to a massive bureaucratic morass and mixed up final grades. Should the strike continue past Finals, what is making the GSIs grade papers from last semester? I doubt they'll be under any legal or moral constraint to do so. And then who'll take care of them? Lecturers?
And we're getting boned by the State again, solidifying UC's role as whipping boy in the budget crisis. Email This Post!
Monday, November 24, 2003
Stanfurd is claiming that the Pier Thieves wanted a ransom of $300 for the return of the Tree.
After learning of the Tree costume theft, the Cal Band manager sent out an e-mail telling students to return the Tree before Big Game or face possible legal action from the Stanford Band. At around midnight on Friday, the Cal students sent an anonymous ransom note to the Cal Band manager, who forwarded it to the Stanford Band manager.A ransom, especially a monetary ransom, is disgraceful to Cal Spirit and dishonorable to the team. Thankfully whoever came up with that idea apparently changed their mind and just left the Tree in pieces at Stanfurd.Email This Post!
Saturday, November 22, 2003
Here's the Stanfurd Daily's account of the Theft of the Tree, the first theft since 1998. During the game one of the Rally Commers displayed a bit of tree costume and wondered where this 'new tree' came from.
The Stanford Band’s Tree costume was stolen yesterday at around 3:30 p.m. while the Band was performing in a rally with the UC-Berkeley band at Pier 39 in San Francisco, according to members of the Stanford Band.Lets call this one the Pier Theft, until we hear any of any better term for it.
Rothacker made the following statement: “To whomever stole the costume, you are mistaken to think that this act of stupidity would do anything but incite more Stanford spirit.”Ohhhh noooooo
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CAL WINS THE 106TH BIG GAME!
Final score: 28-16 over Stanfurd. We kept the axe.
539 yards of offense, 359 passing (Rodgers' career best).
Geoff McArthur had 16 catches (new Cal record) for 245 yards.
Cal scored 21 of its 28 points in the 4th quarter, which was most definitely ours.
The Golden Bears (7-6, 5-3 Pac-10) are now eligible to play in a bowl game. Which bowl hasn't been determined yet, but likely locations are Las Vegas (Las Vegas Bowl - Dec 24), Phoenix, Arizona (Insight Bowl - Dec 26), or El Paso, Texas (Sun Bowl - Dec 31).
GO BEARS!Email This Post!
Friday, November 21, 2003
That the University is going to pay for the no-on-54 spending is actually the least surprising or troubling of the University's proposed resolution for the situation.
After talking it over, I was convinced that the University had a reasonably weak legal case to deny the Prop 54 spending. Here's the relevant guidelines. There's different available readings, but the gist is that A) Organizations can spend however they want, so long as there's a refund mechanism, and B) Student Governments can spend money on lobbying so long as its student related. 54 was pretty student related-- there's a lot of research out there that would be cancelled should it have passed.
So the University would've been forced to prove that the Graduate Assembly is both a Government, which it barely is, and that 54 wasn't very student related. Of course, they might've won, but it was hardly a sure thing, and the University is not interested in risky bets.
The Graduate Assembly was expecting the University to come out with a compromise. That is, to allow the spending in some sort of fudge. This is exactly what they ended up doing.
They said the reimbursement will come from ASUC commercial activities instead of mandatory student fees, the other source of ASUC revenue.The University's carefully planned 'Well, we'll let this one slide,' message is pathetic, incidentally. This is a matter of law. There's no 'letting things slide,' in the law. Either it's legal and you have to let it happen, or it's illegal and you don't. Redirecting the spending is a tacit admission that the spending is legal. They could've used Auxiliary money from the first day and been apparently free of legal problems.
But anyway, the GA was expecting a compromise, where the money issue was a fudge in exchange for the GA not setting a precedent of allowing this kind of spending. BUT this, in retrospect, seems naive. The University knows how the GA works, by now. They know that compromise was unlikely, and would probably just end in a GA lawsuit anyway. Hell, they probably knew that the GA had already retained lawyers. So they've gone on the offensive.
Despite relieving ASUC officials of thousands of dollars of debt to vendors, the university’s carefully worded explanation reaffirmed its authority over student government spending.That oversight part should send alarm bells ringing. At the moment it doesn't appear like it could legally have much effect. The UCOP guidelines haven't changed, so any new 'authorizers' will still have to use the lenient UCOP rules. Although this certainly means that the VC could tie up spending with ease, preventing precedents from being set and ensuring that the University will have the first say in the ASUC/GA's forays into national politics.
But the Chancellor has considerable powers in assigning or taking away abilities from the ASUC. There's several passages assigning that right, with a lot of vagueness. Here's just one:
Chancellors are responsible for the fiscal soundness of student governments. In the discharge of this responsibility, Chancellors may make audits of the finances of student governments, exercise control over expenditures of their funds when and to the extent necessary to maintain financial solvency of student governments, and where necessary may take action to ensure that any activity under control of student governments is operated in accordance with sound business practices consonant with University policies and procedures applicable to such practices.So for all the GA's bravado, they're playing with a bad hand. If they get the money, they have a reasonably strong case to spend it broadly. But the Chancellor can move to keep them from getting the money. They should keep that firmly in mind.
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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Don't forget to go to Laugh your Axe Off tonight at 8 in the Bear's Lair. The Heuristic Squelch staff will be doing skits and standup for the amusement of whatever Rally Comm people show up. Email This Post!
The new Squelch is out. This one marks a historic high point in the use of Short Dialog Pieces. First really seen in the Holohan/Keane period, the beginning of the modern era, the short dialogue piece offers economy in words and easy editing. I've been a sort of Johnny Shortdialogpieceseed lately, spreading them throughout the ideas of the new kids and fighting for them against better pieces.Email This Post!
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Dean Kenney handed down the charges to the Berkeley 3. Mr. Shingavi and Ms. Odes both face 20 hours of community service and a letter of reprimand. It's Mr. Smith's sentence that's raising eyebrows-- he gets 30 hours of community service and a suspension.. UNLESS he completes an 'anger management class' at the Tang Center. Then he gets a letter of reprimand.. PROBABLY.
I'm surprised that the University went after these three. They didn't occupy Wheeler, disrupting classes and bothering students, they occupied Sproul, both a traditional target and an Administrative building. They announced in advance their intention to do so; they even met with Administration people in advance. Prosecuting the ringleaders make it pretty obvious this is a political prosecution, additionally. Even given the silliness of the protest-- declare Iraq U a sister school? -- and the eye-rolling 'spontaneous' walkout from their trial... I don't see how this really violates any educational mission. So what's the point?Email This Post!
Monday, November 17, 2003
The 106th BIG GAME will also be broadcast live on ABC 7 and KGO 810 AM.
Notable Big Game Week Events:
Let's keep the AXE home in Berkeley... where it belongs!Email This Post!
Sunday, November 16, 2003
Lets talk about Administration communication with students and the press, since I just got involved with it recently.
I'm often surprised by how poor this communication is, for the most part. It was only last year that the Chancellor started using mass e-mails to communicate things-- something that has been effective and should've been implemented many, many years before.
When I worked on that Code of Conduct story, getting ahold of Administration people was an entire pain in the ass. They wouldn't meet with me. They made me interview via e-mail. They evaded questions. And they lost control of a crucial opportunity to present the new draft to students. For no reason that I can comprehend, they were willing to jeopardize something that had been worked on for months rather then spend thirty minutes talking to the press. If they had bothered to talk to me, even assuming I was going to be hostile, they would've basically known what I was going to write about, put the best possible spin on the matter, and clarify what looked shady from the opposing side's point of view.
Heck, they knew a story about it was coming. Send out a press release announcing the new code revisions, outlining why they made the changes, and announcing the timeline for revisions. It's coming out anyway, and this way you look up front about it. Very basic press management. Then the story becomes 'University announces press release,' instead of 'University secretly unveils code changes.'
In general their publicizing of this code change has been pathetic. They failed to present it to faculty first, giving opponents the first opportunity to attack it as killing due process. Now there's a significant block of faculty that are motivated to oppose it. There was no Administration response in the Editorial pages on Friday, as opposed to two powerful op-eds against them. Chances are we'll see some quiet announcement during Thanksgiving when all students are gone, something that'll just make them look shady again...
I've been wondering why they're so bad at this. My best theory is that the internal University culture strongly discourages talking to the press. Certainly Chancellor Berdahl hasn't been the best example to follow on that. An Administration member happy to chat with the press and considered a 'leaker' by superiors can see career advancement stop, so they'll keep quiet even to the detriment of their projects.
Another possible reason is that University officials are afraid to step on the toes of colleagues and superiors in how they characterize matters. Talking without the input of everyone else would make them look like prima donnas, mischaracterizing their colleagues, and ignoring their contributions.
The third reason is the Conspiracy version. Perhaps the University has so many things to hide that talking unrestricted to the press will lead to many other unpleasant things getting out. Email This Post!
Saturday, November 15, 2003
BEARS DOMINATE 54-7
Cal sets a school record with 729 total yards against Washington.
348 passing, 381 rushing.
McArthur - 6 catches, 180 yards.
Rodgers - 20 for 33, 348 yards.
J.J. Arrington - 14 carries, 185 yards.
Cal is now 6-6, 4-3 in the Pac-10, and is looking to beat Stanfurd in the Big Game next week to have a shot at a bowl game.
[recap]Email This Post!
Friday, November 14, 2003
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Cal will be doing extra reviews of students admitted with low SATS for this fall.
Responding to recent controversy about UC Berkeley's admissions practices, members of a faculty oversight group next spring will review the cases in which admissions officials recommend accepting high school seniors with very low SAT scores.As usual, Berkeley's attempt to quell controversy is destined to be more controversial and idiotic then simply sticking by their guns. For example, why is it only the people with low SATs that are getting double-checks? Why not the people admitted with low grades and high SATs? Or the people admitted with high SATs and grades, but absolutely no extracurricular work? All of these things have different weights in the application process, and it's a given that some will be admitted despite abysmal results in one. There's no good reason to just examine the marginal low SAT people other then it's been getting media controversy.
Professor Stern appears to recognize this, coming up with a lame 'oh, this is nothing,' excuse that will convince no one.
Stern downplayed the significance of the faculty review, comparing it to other customary spot checks that occur at the end of every admissions cycle. "I suspect it won't make much difference at all in actual [admissions] decisions," he said.No way. This is a very specific spot check due to controversy, and one that may affect which students pass the first round of the admissions process. Email This Post!
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
The DA decided to drop all charges against ASUC President Primm.
**MORE AS IT DEVELOPS**Email This Post!
The Big Game fast approaches. The Berkeleyan has an interesting piece on similar rivalries, including one Economics one I had no idea about.
There's others that aren't mentioned. Certainly the Ink Bowl, the Daily Cal vs. the Stanfurd Daily. The Squelch wanted to put together a 'Big Bee' vs the Stanfurd Chapparal. It fell through.Email This Post!
Monday, November 10, 2003
I resigned my position as a Daily Cal staff writer today. It was an interesting four days on staff. I considered leading the News Staff in an ineffectual rebellion, but, you know, so little time.
I think I can give my opinion on the Code of Conduct changes, as well as the Administration's awful news management policies, without violating any code of ethics. But I'm going to ask first.
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Saturday, November 08, 2003
Regent Chair Moore, still scrabbling for evidence that his less-then-shocking Admissions report is actually a surprise, has released several new charges.
It's possible that the lower-then-average GPA is a concern. But then, it's extremely possible that it isn't. GPAs vary incredibly widely based on majors. That's one big reason why the average GPA of the Greek System is higher then the GPA on average. Greeks probably don't tend towards the Engineering and Science majors that have lower GPAs on average. I wouldn't say that's anything to be especially proud of.
Even if GPAs are lower, it's likely that's an artifact of ESL or financial circumstances. For example, we already know that lower SATs are correlated with lower household income. We also know that lower household income is probably correlated with working second jobs to pay for college. And it's also probable that working second jobs is correlated with lower grades. Removing these causalities and controlling just for Low SAT --> Low GPA is going to be difficult.
I can say with confidence that Regent Moore is uninterested in examining these causalities, since he also makes the claim that low SATs lead to high dropout rates. How can you separate this from low SAT correlating with low household income and big family problems leading to higher dropout rates?
So in any case, before we establish that low SATs means low academic attainment and such, we're going to have to filter out a wealth of other explanatory variables. It's very basic statistics, and very bad scholarship to posit causalties before running the numbers. Do the math! It's fun!Email This Post!
Friday, November 07, 2003
Don't miss the A-Capella Showcase, if you're an A-Capella groupie.
It's the third West Coast A Cappella Showcase, featuring UC MEN'S OCTET and California Golden Overtones. Featured guests tonight include Artists in Resonance, the CAL JAZZ CHOIR, Vocal Point from Brigham Young University and Stanford University's Mendicants and Harmonics. On Saturday, the guest groups are the SoCal VoCals, UCLA's Awaken A Capella and Random Voices, University of Santa Barbara's Naked Voices, and the University of Oregon's On the Rocks and Divisi.Email This Post!
Nothing quite like a dumbass New York Times travel writer writing a stereotype-ladden account of Berkeley. Students don't appear once in this whirlwind around the area.
there's the real possibility of a psychedelic sunset or a Maxfield Parrish moonscape. Sensible shoes are de rigeur, not a Manolo in sight. But true to the hippie stereotype, you'll see scads of Birkenstocks. People here take liberation seriously. Fashion tip: Don't wear fur.I never see people in Birkenstocks. And why, even with the liberation silliness aside, would anyone wear fur around the usually-grimy streets of Berkeley? It's a bad fashion choice in any case. Email This Post!
This bit on legal Napster downloading raises the possibility of such a program being at Berkeley some day.
Officials at San Jose State University and University of California-Berkeley applauded the Napster-Penn State program as a sign of progress in once-contentious relationships between educators and the recording industry. But they aren't planning on rolling out similar services soon.Good answer. But someday perhaps this will work out. Certainly Berkeley, massive University that it is, would be a big win in the anti-downloading wars.Email This Post!
Though I've never given much thought to the US News public university rankings, apparently the folks out at the University of Virginia do. More precisely, their student paper, the Cavalier Daily, has seen it necessary to publish a few articles commenting on Berkeley's recent supremecy.
An op-ed from Wednesday...
and an article from 2001...
and one from 2000.Email This Post!
Thursday, November 06, 2003
Word is that BCR is starting a drive to have a mass refund of their money from the ASUC, over the no-on-54 efforts.
Speaking of which, where's that report that OSL was supposed to publish last week? They had promised a legal recommendation on the spending, but it doesn't appear to have made it out of the office.
I've been busy doing some journalisting. Back soon!Email This Post!
Sunday, November 02, 2003
As my Blogging career winds down I've been thinking about what it means in a larger context, and what I've gotten out of it. So I wrote an essay on the possibilities.
The Blogger as JournalistEmail This Post!
Saturday, November 01, 2003
The Bowles Halloween Party-- barely allowed as is-- has been raided by police. So far five attendees have been arrested for being a minor and drunk.
More as it comes in...Email This Post!
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