University-of-California-Berkeley

thetower.org
In the Safe Spaces on Campus, No Jews Allowed, by Anthony Berteaux

When Arielle Mokhtarzadeh and Ben Rosenberg arrived at University of California, Berkeley on November 6 to attend the annual Students of Color Conference, they had no way of knowing that they would be leaving as victims of anti-Semitism.

The University of California Student Association’s “oldest and largest conference,” the Students of Color Conference (SOCC) has maintained a reputation for 27 years as being a “safe space” where students of color, as well as white progressive allies, can address and discuss issues of structural and cultural inequality on college campuses. Students who attend are encouraged to be cognizant of their language while exploring topics that directly affect students from marginalized communities: the school-to-prison pipeline, sexual violence, decreased funding to ethnic and LGBT studies departments, racially insensitive speech, and perhaps most importantly, a “disquieting trend” of hate crimes on university campuses statewide.

It was this disquieting, yet growing, trend of hate speech and crimes directed towards Jewish students within the UC system that spurred Mokhtarzadeh and Rosenberg, both Jewish sophomores at UCLA, to attend the conference. Their freshman year was punctuated by incidents of anti-Semitism that were both personal and met with national controversy. They were shocked during their first quarter in school, when students entered the Bruin Cafe to see the phrase “Hitler did nothing wrong” etched into a table. Months later, Mokhtarzadeh’s friend, Rachel Beyda, was temporarily denied a student government leadership position based solely on her Jewish identity, an event that made news nationwide. Throughout the year, they saw the school’s pro-Palestinian group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), issue criticism of Israel that overstepped into anti-Semitic rhetoric and hate. The campus was supposed to be their new home, their new safe space—so why didn’t they feel that way?

At the conference, progressive students and students of color—often themselves targets of hate, bigotry, and discrimination—were propagators of ancient hatreds against the Jewish people.

Mokhtarzadeh applied to the Students of Color Conference with the hope “of learning more about the experiences of communities of color at the UC… [and] sharing with those communities the experience of my own,” she told me. As an Iranian Jew, she believed her identity as both a religious and ethnic minority granted her a place to belong and thrive at the SOCC. Rosenberg (who requested a pseudonym so that he could speak freely about campus issues without fear of potential retaliation) said that growing up in the Bay Area had taught him to be an active member of social justice movements and progressive communities. “I was always encouraged to take initiative on issues and movements that didn’t directly affect me,” he said. “I wanted to learn more about the struggles that my fellow students were going through.”

But their experiences as Jewish students at the SOCC would soon inspire a rude awakening: the campus progressives who were fighting for justice on college campuses for students of color weren’t only ignoring anti-Semitism and attacks on Jewish identity—they were sometimes the ones perpetuating it.

This was quickly made clear on the first day at a session called “Existence is Resistance,” hosted by leaders of UC San Diego’s SJP chapter. Students discussed the boycott of Israel as an issue of urgency for students of color. Rosenberg and Mokhtarzadeh told me that they originally had no intention to engage in dialogue about Israel at the conference, but they were horrified at how attacks on Israel soon devolved into attacks on the Jews. “The session went way beyond the boundaries of what was appropriate or truthful at the SOCC,” Rosenberg recalled.

For example, they said that Israel was poisoning the water that they sell into the West Bank, and raising the price by ten times. Any sane person knows that this is not true. They also said that when Jewish-American students go on Birthright trips, the Israeli government offers you money to live on a settlement. A number of things like that.

Rosenberg also stated that “There was also no mention of the Holocaust when talking about the history of Israel. They said that in the late 19th century, Jews decided to move into this land and take over it. They completely white-washed our history as a people.”

Mokhtarzadeh was also horrified by the rhetoric used during the session.

Over the course of what was probably no longer than an hour, my history was denied, the murder of my people was justified, and a movement whose sole purpose is the destruction of the Jewish homeland was glorified. Statements were made justifying the ruthless murder of innocent Israeli civilians, blatantly denying Jewish indigeneity in the land, and denying the Holocaust in which six million Jews were murdered. Why anyone in their right mind would accept these slanders as truths baffles me. But they did. These statements, and others, were met with endless snaps and cheers. I was taken aback.

At a conference facilitated by peers who they believed were fighting the righteous battle against racist speech and hate crimes, Mokhtarzadeh and Rosenberg heard anti-Semitic statements that were met with applause and approval—statements like “the state of Israel pays Jews to move to Israel to join the army and kill Palestinians” and even “you shouldn’t buy Ben and Jerry’s because they’re Jewish and have a shop in Israel.” But perhaps the most painful, and upsetting portion of SJP’s presentation was the section called “Intifada: Peaceful Uprising.”

In 1942 a young African American Ph.D. in mathematics, David Blackwell, interviewed for a teaching job at Berkeley. He was hired, but not for many years.

When finally invited to join the statistics faculty in 1952, several of Blackwell’s new colleagues told him there was a backstory to his failed application a decade earlier. It had been decided to offer him a position in mathematics, they said, but the wife of the departmental chair, who sometimes invited the faculty to dinner, insisted she would not have a black person in her house — and the offer was squelched.

Blackwell, who eventually became the first tenured black professor in the University of California system, shares this vivid memory in a 10-hour interview with the Bancroft Library’s Regional Oral History Office (ROHO). His life history is part of a recently completed oral-history series on 18 pioneering African American faculty and senior administrators, hired before the advent of affirmative-action policies in the 1970s, who broke barriers and laid the groundwork for those who followed.

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Ranking Colleges

After heavy lobbying from some of the nation’s most elite institutions of higher education, the President has just abandoned his effort to rank the nation’s 7,000 colleges and universities.

So, with college application season almost upon us, where should aspiring college students and their parents look for advice?

In my view, not U.S. News and World Report’s annual college guide (out last week).  

It’s analogous to a restaurant guide that gives top ratings to the most expensive establishments that are backed and frequented by the wealthiest gourmands – and much lower rankings to restaurants with the best food at lower prices that attract the widest range of diners.

Without fail, U. S. News puts at the top of its list America’s most exclusive and expensive private universities that admit low numbers and small percentages of students from poor families.

These elite institutions also train a disproportionately large share of the nation’s investment bankers, corporate chieftains, corporate lawyers, and management consultants. 

Around 70 percent of Harvard’s senior class routinely submits resumes to Wall Street and corporate consulting firms, for example. Close to 36 percent of Princeton’s 2010 graduating class went into finance, down from 46 percent before the financial crisis. 

And so it goes, through the Ivy League and other elite private institutions. 

Meanwhile, U.S. News relegates to lower rankings public universities that admit most of the young Americans from poor families who attend college, and which graduate far larger percentages of teachers, social workers, legal aide attorneys, community organizers, and public servants than do the private elite colleges.

US New claims its rankings are neutral. Baloney.

They’re based on such “neutral” criteria as how selective a college is in its admissions, how much its alumni donate, how much money and other resources its faculty receive, and how much it spends per student.

Colleges especially favored by America’s wealthy are bound to excel on these criteria. The elite pour money into them because these institutions have educated them and, they hope, will educate their offspring.  

A family name engraved in marble on such a campus confers unparalleled prestige.

And because these institutions have educated such a high proportion of America’s wealthy elite, that elite looks with particular favor on graduates of these institutions in making hiring decisions.

Which helps explain their high and increasing selectivity. As the income and wealth of America’s elite has soared over recent decades, the financial benefits of being anointed as a graduate of such an institution have soared in tandem.  

The U.S. News rankings perpetuate the myth that these elite institutions offer the best education – as if the economic diversity of a student body and the values and career choices of its undergraduates were irrelevant to receiving a high-quality education.  

And as if educational excellence could be measured by the size of the wallets supporting it.  

Public universities are at an inherent disadvantage on these criteria because they rely on state funding instead of wealthy alumni. They also admit large numbers of students, which often means a lower expenditure per student.

And because public universities have a special responsibility to be accessible to students from every economic class, they take more chances on broader range of promising students, including many who are the first in their families to attend college.

Public universities are the major vehicles of upward mobility in America. They educate 73 percent of all college students. The Ivy League educates just 0.4 percent.

And the best public universities provide a higher-quality education, in my view, than many of the private elites.

Full disclosure: I was educated in private elite universities – Dartmouth and Yale. And I taught for many years at Harvard. 

These venerable institutions rate at or near the top of the U.S. News rankings.

For the past decade, though, I’ve been teaching at the University of California at Berkeley.

One thing I’ve discovered: My Berkeley students are every bit as bright as the students I met or taught in the Ivies.

Another: More Pell-grant eligible students (a proxy for students from low-income families) attend Berkeley than attend the entire Ivy League combined.

And my Berkeley students are more involved in, and more of them are aiming for careers in, public service than any group of students I’ve ever had the privilege of teaching. (Each year, around 10,000 Berkeley undergraduates engage in off-campus public service projects and programs.)

In an era when income and wealth are more concentrated at the top than in living memory – much of it in the hands of Wall Street bankers, corporate executives, and their retainers – U.S. News has become a major enabler of American inequality.  

We need another guide for ranking colleges – one that doesn’t look at the fatness of alumni wallets or the amount spent on each student, but does take account of economic diversity and dedication to public service.

Fortunately, there is one. It’s a relatively new one, provided by the Washington Monthly.

My advice: Use it.

5

Life in Technicolor: Glasses for the colorblind

With so much of our world color-coded, life can be quite tricky without the ability to see the full range of the rainbow.

For the 13 million Americans (and 300 million people worldwide) with color vision deficiency or blindness, living with the inability to detect red, blue, green or a mixture of these colors means having to learn to discern traffic lights or subways lines based on order and patterns rather than color, or having to ask someone whether the piece of meat they’re about to ingest is actually well-done.

However, EnChroma, one of several emerging startups founded by University of California alums, is changing the way people with color vision deficiency experience the world. They make eyewear that corrects for the most common color blindness. 

According to Marc Levin, a neuro-ophthalmologist at UCSF, the lenses work by changing how light is received by the brain for those whose eyes lack sensitivity to red and green light wavelengths. It filters out light that the red and green light-absorbing molecules/photopigments in our eyes sense most similarly. This helps the brain receive more distinct color wavelength information.

While their glasses currently only work for people with red-green color blindness, the company hopes to eventually create lenses that will also help individuals with more severe color vision deficiencies.

GIF source: Valspar Paint

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Nest We Grow | UC Berkeley & Kengo Kuma & Associates
Location: Takinouegenya, Takinoue, Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan

reuters.com
Unmitigated climate change to shrink global economy by 23 percent, researchers find
author of the study Solomon Hsiang, an associate professor of public policy at the University of California Berkeley.

“Our best estimate is that the global economy as a whole will be 23 percent smaller in 2100 than if we would avoid climate change entirely,” said co-author of the study Solomon Hsiang, an associate professor of public policy at the University of California Berkeley.

The study looked at the relationship between temperature and economic activity in 166 countries over a 50 year period. The findings indicate climate change will widen global inequality, perhaps dramatically, because warming is good for cold countries, which tend to be richer, and more harmful for hot countries, which tend to be poorer. In the researchers’ benchmark estimate, climate change will reduce average income in the poorest 40 percent of countries by 75 percent in 2100.

futurity.org
Physicist explains why time travel isn't possible - Futurity
In a new book, physicist Richard Muller answers the question: Why does the arrow of time flow inexorably toward the future, constantly creating new "nows?"

“The future does not yet exist … it is being created.”

goodblacknews.org
Dr. Prudence Carter Appointed Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Berkeley
Dr. Prudence Carter was named Dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, effective June 30, 2016. She currently serves as the Jacks Family Professor of Educ...

Force Needed to Measure Gravitational Waves Detected for 1st Time –“Small as One Thousandth the Diameter of a Proton”

If you want to confirm the existence of gravitational waves, space-time ripples predicted by Albert Einstein in his theory of general relativity, or want to determine to what extent the law of gravity on the macroscopic scale, as described by Sir Isaac Newton, continues to apply at the microscopic scale, you need to detect and measure forces and motions that are almost incomprehensively tiny. For example, at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), scientists are attempting to record motions as small as one thousandth the diameter of a proton.

This week, what is believed to be the smallest force ever measured has been detected by researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley. Using a combination of lasers and a unique optical trapping system that provides a cloud of ultracold atoms, the researchers measured a force of approximately 42 yoctonewtons. A yoctonewton is one septillionth of a newton and there are approximately 3 x 1023 yoctonewtons in one ounce of force.

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MAP: US COLLEGES ACCUSED OF MISHANDLING SEXUAL ASSAULT:

Federal Complaints:

  • Penn State University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Harvard Law School
  • Princeton University
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Amherst College 
  • Vanderbilt University
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Southern California
  • Occidental College
  • University of Colorado Boulder
  • Swarthmore College
  • Hanover College
  • University of Connecticut
  • Cedarville University
  • Emerson College
  • University of Virginia
  • Carnegie Mellon University

Completed Investigations:

  • University of Montana
  • Yale University

Controversy over handling complaints:

  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Missouri
  • Oklahoma State University
  • University of Indianapolis
  • Florida State University
  • Columbia University