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Got the Monday blues? Start your week off right with a helping of useful information and informed opinion. 

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For the Week of July 26, 2010

Some UC faculty haven’t been quiet about where the university is heading. UCLA history professor Michael Meranze blogs that “those in charge at Oakland and on the Board . . . are happy to stay in their own echo chamber, blissfully removed from the everyday life of the university.” Among his examples of their “lack of vision” are plans to centralize management that corporate theorists “rejected” in the 1970s and 1980s, and their use of “the failed playbook of educational reformers in the K-12 sector.”

At the July 14 regents meeting, UCB emeritus physics professor Charles Schwartz said “It should be clear that the UC Commission on the Future has been a failure,” and scolded the regents for “failing to meet [their] public obligations” because of their “failure to provide a clear and truthful picture of how UC spends its money.”

Changes in UC’s admissions policies have resulted in “a record number of out-of-state and international students” among the freshman class, particularly at Berkeley and UCLA, according to the LA Times. “More than 8% of UC’s projected 37,151 freshmen will be from out of state or overseas,” a 6% increase from last year. At Berkeley, non-Californians are expected to constitute over 22% of the freshman class, double last year’s proportion.

This appears to be resulting in an exodus of California students. As we reported in June, Texas Southern University has seen a growing number of California students. Now “California college students are on the rise in Minnesota” as well, reports the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune.

These figures bear out concerns expressed in a blog on US places, careers, and colleges that “in-state students may find it harder to gain acceptance at UC schools.” While the post quotes a UC Berkeley statement that “nonresident student recruitment . . . brings geographic diversity to the campus,” changed admissions policies have affected campus ethnic breakdowns as well.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that UCB “plans to enroll 12 percent fewer Latino freshmen this fall than last,” and that Berkeley and Los Angeles “have struggled to enroll significant numbers of black and Latino students.” It goes on to say, however, that “Berkeley and other campuses had more success attracting underrepresented minority students. Berkeley managed to keep its number of black students fairly steady, averting a fear among some faculty members that their numbers would drop. San Diego expects a slight increase in black students — from 1.3 percent to 1.7 percent of the freshman class — despite highly publicized incidents of racial tension this year.” It also noted that UCOP reports a higher level of Latino admissions overall.

Questions about students’ racial and socioeconomic backgrounds and issues of “fairness” dominated the second day of the regents’ meeting, reports writer Gary Shih in The Bay Citizen. He said the dip in the percentage of white students warranted concern. Although Shih reports university officials “flatly denied” that qualified California applicants were denied admission “because the spot went to a higher-paying, out-of-state student,” and UCB Chancellor Robert Birgeneau claimed "We're not displacing any Californians," a closer look at the UC Berkeley statement noted above shows how finely UC is cutting hairs: “There is no reduction . . . in available seats that the state has funded for California residents” [emphasis added]. UC-AFT’s Bob Samuels, reporting on the same meeting, thought the regents’ discussion was “delusional.”

Officials of the Communications Workers of America ended a campaign among UC’s 14,000 clerical employees on Friday, citing an arbitrator’s decision released earlier this month in a case involving AFSCME. The CWA campaign was close to reaching the number of signatures required for a Public Employment Relations Board-run vote on union representation. Clericals, dissatisfied with their current representative (CUE), had launched organizing campaigns with both AFSCME and CWA to replace it. CUE’s board responded by affiliating with the Teamsters. Clericals working for union democracy say they are now assessing their options.

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