UPDATE: Berkeley’s Academic Senate has amended its proposed resolution to exclude the “no confidence” provision.
Further on up the road, at Berkeley, Michael O’Hare has these things to say about Occupy in the context of the Academic Senate taking up a resolution of no confidence in the Chancellor there.
At Cal, public action has been pretty specifically directed at the chancellor, president, and regents, demanding increased state funding for higher education and reducing student fees (as though any of them had money to give out). I regret this focus, because it looks self-serving and narrow; if tuition at Berkeley dropped to zero, (i) the students would still be facing terrible trouble because their state political machinery is broken, they will have trouble getting jobs and keeping them, and we have run out of tricks with which to pretend it isn’t necessary to pay for essential state services (like schools for their kids) (ii) the majority of the population not lucky enough to go to college at any price are already much worse off than they are. In any case, the chancellor and president have been vocal (though ineffectual – probably inevitably) advocates for restoring state funding for higher education, and while I don’t have a good sense of the President Yudof’s personality either way, I believe Birgeneau to be a decent person who genuinely believes in educational access for everyone, in social and economic mobility generally, and also in not breaking his students’ and faculty’s ribs or dragging them on the ground by the hair….
I fault Birgeneau for being both invisible to the troops except as a source of inept spam emails, and the author of managerial choices that are incomprehensible to me, dithering around the edges of the crises rather than doing consequential things. Why hasn’t he had a big meeting in the Greek Theatre of students and faculty to make some noise about the economic and political crisis in the state and nation, and put duties and tasks before us; if not us, who? Why hasn’t his discourse on police violence here been a real cry of rage that his instructions from 2009 were ignored, backed up with rolling heads and visits to the injured students? Why isn’t he out walking around during demonstrations, getting between the cops and student bodies and putting good quotes on TV news? There’s a lot of energy being released diffusely, and he should be the one directing it usefully. Afraid the regents will fire him? There are a lot worse things to lose than your job.
I don’t hold with O’Hare’s dismissal of the Academic Senate; it’s supposed to be the governing body. If it has lapsed into desuetude, that’s the fault of the faculty, who should fix it.