Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Problem Avoided (for now)

It's unlikely that anyone will be inviting Milo Yiannopoulos for a return visit to Berkeley (or a visit to UCLA), given recent revelations:

Milo Yiannopoulos lost his keynote speaking slot at the Conservative Political Action Conference after tapes surfaced of the right wing provocateur and senior Breitbart editor advocating for sexual relationships between “younger boys and older men.”

“Due to the revelation of an offensive video in the past 24 hours condoning pedophilia, the American Conservative Union has decided to rescind the invitation,” said Matt Schlapp, chairman of the group which sponsors CPAC, in a statement Monday afternoon. The group called Yiannopoulos to “further address these disturbing comments,” but defended its original decision to invite him as a nod to “the free speech issue on college campuses.”...

Full story at


That said, there are other Milo-types out there looking to provoke confrontations. The best way to avoid them is to avoid incidents that don't meet the sniff test on free speech and academic freedom, which - of late - UCLA seems not to be doing, e.g.,
If you wave a red flag in front of a bull, eventually he will charge.

Monday, February 20, 2017

We didn't make this list

Our previous post indicated UCLA had found itself on one list. But it was MIA on the list below:

A Message to the President

The following letter by forty-eight US university presidents and chancellors was sent to President Trump on February 2, 2017.

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
United States of America

Dear President Trump:

We write as presidents of leading American colleges and universities to urge you to rectify or rescind the recent executive order closing our country’s borders to immigrants and others from seven majority-Muslim countries and to refugees from throughout the world. If left in place, the order threatens both American higher education and the defining principles of our country.

The order specifically prevents talented, law-abiding students and scholars from the affected regions from reaching our campuses. American higher education has benefited tremendously from this country’s long history of embracing immigrants from around the world. Their innovations and scholarship have enhanced American learning, added to our prosperity, and enriched our culture. Many who have returned to their own countries have taken with them the values that are the lifeblood of our democracy. America’s educational, scientific, economic, and artistic leadership depends upon our continued ability to attract the extraordinary people who for many generations have come to this country in search of freedom and a better life.

This action unfairly targets seven predominantly Muslim countries in a manner inconsistent with America’s best principles and greatest traditions. We welcome outstanding Muslim students and scholars from the United States and abroad, including the many who come from the seven affected countries. Their vibrant contributions to our institutions and our country exemplify the value of the religious diversity that has been a hallmark of American freedom since this country’s founding. The American dream depends on continued fidelity to that value.

We recognize and respect the need to protect America’s security. The vetting procedures already in place are rigorous. Improvements to them should be based on evidence, calibrated to real risks, and consistent with constitutional principle.

Throughout its history America has been a land of opportunity and a beacon of freedom in the world. It has attracted talented people to our shores and inspired people around the globe. This executive order is dimming the lamp of liberty and staining the country’s reputation. We respectfully urge you to rectify the damage done by this order.


Robert L. Barchi, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Joanne Berger-Sweeney, Trinity College
Lee C. Bollinger, Columbia University
Robert A. Brown, Boston University
Ronald J. Daniels, Johns Hopkins University
Nicholas B. Dirks, University of California, Berkeley
Adam F. Falk, Williams College
Patrick Gallagher, University of Pittsburgh
Amy Gutmann, University of Pennsylvania
Philip J. Hanlon, Dartmouth College
Ralph J. Hexter, University of California, Davis
Kimberly W. Benston, Haverford College
George Blumenthal, University of California, Santa Cruz
Richard H. Brodhead, Duke University
Kimberly Wright Cassidy, Bryn Mawr College
John J. DeGioia, Georgetown University
Christopher L. Eisgruber, Princeton University
Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard University
Howard Gillman, University of California, Irvine
Andrew Hamilton, New York University
Sam Hawgood, MBBS, University of California, San Francisco
Reverend John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., University of Notre Dame
Pradeep K. Khosla, University of California, San Diego
David W. Leebron, Rice University
Wallace D. Loh, University of Maryland, College Park
David Oxtoby, Pomona College
Daniel R. Porterfield, Franklin & Marshall College
Hunter R. Rawlings III, Cornell University
Peter Salovey, Yale University
Mark Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D., University of Michigan
Barbara R. Snyder, Case Western Reserve University
Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., Stony Brook University
Claire E. Sterk, Emory University
Marvin Krislov, Oberlin College
Ron Liebowitz, Brandeis University
Anthony P. Monaco, Tufts University
Christina H. Paxson, Brown University
Carol Quillen, Davidson College
Clayton Rose, Bowdoin College
Michael H. Schill, University of Oregon
Valerie Smith, Swarthmore College
Debora L. Spar, Barnard College
Sonya Stephens, Mount Holyoke College
Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Stanford University
Satish K. Tripathi, University at Buffalo
Mark S. Wrighton, Washington University in St. Louis
Henry T. Yang, University of California, Santa Barbara
Nicholas S. Zeppos, Vanderbilt University


We made the list!

Unfortunately, it's a list of universities that were hacked by a Russian intruder nicknamed Rasputin:


Fake Data?

Happy Presidents' Day!

There have been concerns about pressures under the new regime that could arise to manipulate data for policy objectives, i.e., to make things look better or worse, depending on someone's desire. Federal data of all types are used for research purposes and to track trends. It goes without saying that manipulation is a Bad Thing.

Report: Trump administration eyes changes to trade deficit calculations

By Evelyn Rupert - 02/19/17  The Hill

The Trump administration is considering changing how U.S. trade deficits are calculated, a move that would make the deficit look larger on paper, the Wall Street Journal reported.

People involved in the discussions told the Journal that the leading idea is to count “re-exports” — goods that are imported to the U.S., and then exported to a third country unchanged — as imports, but not exports.

The change would inflate the trade deficit number, an important figure in trade negotiations and policy.

For example, under new calculations, the $63.1 billion trade deficit with Mexico last year would become a $115.4 billion deficit.

One person familiar with the discussions told the WSJ that the new methodology could even convert a trade surplus into a deficit.

Trump has vowed to renegotiate major U.S. trade deals, arguing that existing arrangements are unfair to the U.S.

People familiar with discussions told the Journal that employees at the U.S. Trade Representative’s office complied when asked to prepare data using the new method — but they included their opinions about why they believe such calculations are inaccurate.

One source said the employees were told the numbers would be presented to members of Congress.

Trump trade officials said discussions are preliminary and there are several options on the table.

“We’re not even close to a decision on that yet,” Payne Griffin, the deputy chief of staff at the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, told the WSJ. “We had a meeting with the Commerce Department, and we said, ‘Would it be possible to collect those other statistics?’”


Data manipulation attempts have happened before. There is the earlier Nixon example. Nixon had a belief that there were conspiracies in the statistical agencies to make him look bad, e.g., starting at minute 4:57 in (Aide Charles Colson tended to fan his conspiracy beliefs; in contrast, George Shultz would calm him down:

And, of course, there was Nixon's infamous belief in a Jewish cabal within the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Title IX

Another battle over 9?
The NY Times ran an article yesterday essentially dealing with whether the Trump administration might change Title IX regulation of sexual assault. It is reproduced below. However, keep in mind when reading it that California adopted legislation on this issue:

And UC adopted its own internal standards of adjudication. Unless the Trump administration were to threaten to withhold funding, California and UC would likely be unaffected by any change in federal regulation. Indeed, the issue is now so charged with political symbolism that any changes which in other circumstances might have been considered in California or in UC are now unlikely.

Universities Face Pressure to Hold the Line on Title IX

By Anemona Hartocollis, Feb. 18, 2017, NY Times

Advocates are starting a campaign to try to persuade colleges to maintain the Obama administration’s tough policies for protecting women on campuses from sexual assault, even if the Trump administration relaxes enforcement.

Many people expect the Trump administration to tilt the balance of federal guidance to make it harder to discipline the thousands of students, almost all of them men, who are accused of sexual violence against women each year.

Women’s groups are leading the push, along with an organization that represents the campus administrators responsible for enforcing federal sexual assault policy — a group whose numbers have grown into the thousands in just a few years.

The main goal of those involved in the effort is to convince college presidents that the Obama-era policies have positively transformed the lives of women on college campuses.

“This is a chance to be doing what we should be doing rather than what we must be doing,” said Brett Sokolow, the executive director of the Association of Title IX Administrators, which takes its name from the federal sex discrimination law.

On one side of the issue are those who believe the Trump administration could usher in a new era of stigmatizing young women who speak up when they have been sexually assaulted by fellow students. On the other are critics, including many conservative activists and lawyers, who say that young men are being demonized and having their rights trampled in campus disciplinary proceedings.

Mr. Sokolow’s group has drafted a document, “The ATIXA Playbook: Best Practices for the Post-Regulatory Era,” which he said would be distributed to 33,000 people at schools, colleges and universities whose job involves enforcing Title IX.

The paper’s introduction notes that many critics have said colleges should not be in the business of policing sexual violence, and that this is a “politically opportune moment to offer a spirited defense” of why they should be.

End Rape on Campus, a “survivor advocacy organization,” created the hashtag #DearBetsy, a reference to Betsy DeVos, the new federal education secretary, and has urged the posting of messages on Twitter in support for “sexual assault survivors” and others protected from discrimination by Title IX policies, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

“I want us to take a stance proactively,” said Sofie Karasek, the director of education for the advocacy group. “I don’t want us to just react to things that happen. I want to get ahead of whatever is going to come down the pipeline.”

On Wednesday, the National Women’s Law Center and other women’s and student groups held a “call-in” to the Education Department, demanding that Ms. DeVos commit to the current federal sexual assault guidance.

“That was our first big action collectively,” said Neena Chaudhry, the law center’s senior counsel and education director. “We’re looking at a Twitter storm sometime soon.”

Colleges and universities are in a delicate position, reluctant to dismantle the current system for addressing sexual assault, while viewing the new administration as potentially making it less fraught for them.

“Schools must and will continue to support survivors and to be fair to both parties, we are required to do that, but federal guidance can be a straitjacket that forces schools to act in a way that may not further those goals,” said Terry Hartle, the senior vice president of the American Council on Education, a higher education trade group.

Mr. Hartle acknowledged that colleges and universities chafe at the public scrutiny that comes with being put on a list of institutions under investigation, even before findings have been made. That list now numbers 309 cases at 227 colleges and universities, including Cornell, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, M.I.T., and Stanford.

He said the criteria for such federal investigations were “vague” and “ambiguous,” and that colleges would like clarification.

“How do we avoid getting sued by the government?” he said.

He said that many college presidents believe disciplinary proceedings could sometimes be carried out more equitably through mediation, which could better account for complexities like memories dimmed by alcohol and stories that conflict and lack witnesses, rather than through the current system, in which there are clear winners and losers. But mediation is not now allowed.

But Mr. Hartle said that trying to reshape sexual assault policy could be politically risky.

“I think the challenge for the new administration will be to ask themselves, can this be changed in a way that does not get us killed?”

Ms. DeVos said during her confirmation hearing that it would be premature for her to take a position on Title IX, and a spokesman for her office declined to comment Friday. Sexual assault policy is carried out by the department’s Office for Civil Rights, and whoever takes over that office would have a strong influence on any change in direction.

Gail Heriot, a leading critic of Obama-era policies, and a University of San Diego law professor, has been put forward as a candidate by more than 240 largely conservative activists and college faculty members, in a letter sent to the Trump administration and reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education. Among those signing were Harvey Silverglate, a co-founder of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a free-speech group, and Heather Mac Donald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Ms. Heriot said in an email Friday that she had not heard from Ms. DeVos or anyone acting on her behalf. “I have no evidence that I am actually being considered for the job,” she said.

Advocates credit the threat of federal investigations with fostering a better understanding of campus rape as a serious problem deserving of clear consequences, up to suspension and expulsion.

Critics, including prominent law school professors, say the federal guidance has trampled on the due process rights of the accused — almost always young men — by setting a low standard of evidence and by not requiring the involvement of the police and other law enforcement agencies.

“There are poorly trained administrators, faculty and students investigating alleged criminal conduct, sitting in judgment and doling out punishment,” said Charles Wayne, a lawyer in Washington, who has represented more than a dozen men accused in campus proceedings.

Mr. Sokolow said his group’s tracking indicated that 10,000 to 12,000 cases reach the disciplinary phase every year — many more when sexual harassment, stalking and relationship violence are counted too. Others said the number was hard to come by, but perhaps in the low thousands.

Some of the activists have been buoyed by the success of the Women’s Marches the day after President Trump’s inauguration, which, according to estimates, drew more than one million people in cities across the United States and more around the world.

“I have called the Department of Education quite a few times and called my senator quite a few times,” said Jessica Davidson, a 2016 graduate of the University of Denver and an activist with End Rape on Campus who said a fellow student had been found guilty of raping her through the campus disciplinary process.

Mr. Sokolow said that Title IX officers are prepared for whatever may come. “I’m playing a long game and looking at this as a cyclical retraction,” he said. “Title IX is 45 years old. It’s waxed and waned. It isn’t going anywhere. We just have to figure out how to navigate it.”


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Bus services changes to UCLA

UCLA... will see more service on Rapid 12, for better connectivity to Metro’s Expo Line, and schedule adjustments on weekends. Route 17 will serve UCLA’s Charles E. Young Terminal, instead of Hilgard Terminal; weekday service will increase to every 20 minutes.

Furthermore, Route 18 will see schedule adjustments on weekday morning trips to UCLA and evening trips to Marina del Rey...


See also:

Alternative Approach for Next Time

Next time, if he comes again to Berkeley (or any other UC campus), the better approach seems to be to stay calm, roll your eyes, let him talk until he's bored. From the SF Chronicle:

After a week of questions about whether Milo Yiannopoulos should be allowed on”Real Time with Bill Maher,” viewers probably expected fireworks — if not fire and brimstone. But the Breitbart editor and professional troll fizzled. Yiannopoulos kept trying to work in his “ain’t I a stinker” Bugs Bunny routine while Maher kept trying to talk about ideas and shared ground, until even Maher seemed bored.
Yiannopoulos failed to either incite the audience or provide any of his staged “look at how liberals can’t handle me!” moments. In the end, it felt less like a debate or even a conversation, and more like an indulgent parent had impatiently tried find common ground with a teenager shouting the f-word in church...