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Some notes and photos from today’s demonstration on the UC Davis quad.
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Chancellor Katehi on Good Morning America:

I don’t feel GMA wants to do the Chancellor any favors.

Cathy Davidson makes excellent points about the UC Davis situation and how higher education should respond in general:

I keep hearing the arguments that universities have to call in the police to protect the students, that the Occupy encampments are unsanitary, unsafe, and insecure. That’s almost comical when you teach at Duke where “tenting” is one of our most venerable student traditions. A tent-city called K-Ville has been thriving since 1986. Krzyzewskiville ( is an encampment of students staying in tents, in winter, for weeks at time in order not to lose priority getting into Duke basketball games. Read the rest of this entry »

If you want to know why tuitions at American universities are rising, don’t look at the likes of me: faculty compensation isn’t going up. Felix Salmon explains what you might guess:

spending on faculty compensation is never more than 40% of total spending, and “has remained steady or decreased slightly over time”. Then have a look at the numbers.

Overall, if we exclude for-profit schools, which were a tiny part of the landscape in 1999, we have seen tuition fees rise by 32% between 1999 and 2009. Over the same period, instruction costs rose just 5.6% — the lowest rate of inflation of any of the components of education services. (“Student services costs” and “operations and maintenance costs” saw the greatest inflation, at 15.2% and 18.1% respectively, but even that is only half the rate that tuition increased.)

The real reason why tuition has been rising so much has nothing to do with Baumol, and everything to do with the government. Page 31 of the report is quite clear: “except for private research institutions,” it says, “tuitions were increasing almost exclusively to replace losses from state revenues or other private revenue sources.”

In other words, tuition costs are going up just because state subsidies are going down. Every time there’s a state fiscal crisis, subsidies get cut; once cut, they never get reinstated. And so the proportion of the cost of college which is borne by the student has been rising steadily for decades.

This is a better video of Chancellor Katehi exiting a campus building after her impromptu press conference yesterday. I post this not only to highlight, once again, the extraordinary discipline of the students, but also to share this letter, “Why I walked Chancellor Katehi out of Surge II tonight”. The letter was written and posted to Facebook by Reverend Kristin Stoneking, the director of CA House. Kristin is the woman you see walking with the chancellor in the video above.

At 5pm, as my family and I left Davis so that I could attend the American Academy of Religion annual meetings in San Francisco, I received a call from Assistant Vice Chancellor Griselda Castro informing me that she, Chancellor Katehi and others were trapped inside Surge II. She asked if I could mediate between students and administration. I was reluctant; I had already missed a piece of the meetings due to commitments in Davis and didn’t want to miss any more. I called a student (intentionally not named here) and learned that students were surrounding the building but had committed to a peaceful, silent exit for those inside and had created a clear walkway to the street. We turned the car around and headed back to Davis.

When I arrived, there was a walkway out of the building set up, lined on both sides by about 300 students. The students were organized and peaceful. I was cleared to enter the building along with a student who is a part of CA House and has been part of the Occupy movement on campus since the beginning. He, too, was reluctant, but not because he had somewhere else to be. For any student to act as a spokesperson or leader is inconsistent with the ethos the Occupy movement. He entered as an individual seeking peace and resolution, not as a representative of the students, and was clear that he had called for and would continue to call for Chancellor Katehi’s resignation.

Once inside, and through over an hour of conversation, we learned the following:

— The Chancellor had made a commitment that police would not be called in this situation

— Though the message had been received inside the building that students were offering a peaceful exit, there was a concern that not everyone would hold to this commitment

— The Chancellor had committed to talk with students personally and respond to concerns at the rally on Monday on the quad

— The student assistants to the Chancellor had organized another forum on Tuesday for the Chancellor to dialogue directly with students

What we felt couldn’t be compromised on was the students’ desire to see and be seen by the Chancellor. Any exit without face to face contact was unacceptable. She was willing to do this. We reached agreement that the students would move to one side of the walkway and sit down as a show of commitment to nonviolence.

Before we left, the Chancellor was asked to view a video of the student who was with me being pepper sprayed. She immediately agreed. Then, he and I witnessed her witnessing eight minutes of the violence that occurred Friday. Like a recurring nightmare, the horrific scene and the cries of “You don’t have to do this!” and students choking and screaming rolled again. The student and I then left the building and using the human mike, students were informed that a request had been made that they move to one side and sit down so that the Chancellor could exit. They immediately complied, though I believe she could have left peacefully even without this concession.

I returned to the building and walked with the Chancellor down the human walkway to her car. Students remained silent and seated the entire way.

What was clear to me was that once again, the students’ willingness to show restraint kept us from spiraling into a cycle of violence upon violence. There was no credible threat to the Chancellor, only a perceived one. The situation was not hostile. And what was also clear to me is that whether they admit it or not, the administrators that were inside the building are afraid. And exhausted. And human. And the suffering that has been inflicted is real. The pain present as the three of us watched the video of students being pepper sprayed was palpable. A society is only truly free when all persons take responsibility for their actions; it is only upon taking responsibility that healing can come.

Why did I walk the Chancellor to her car? Because I believe in the humanity of all persons. Because I believe that people should be assisted when they are afraid. Because I believe that in showing compassion we embrace a nonviolent way of life that emanates to those whom we refuse to see as enemies and in turn leads to the change that we all seek. I am well aware that my actions were looked on with suspicion by some tonight, but I trust that those seeking a nonviolent solution will know that “just means lead to just ends” and my actions offered dignity not harm.

The Chancellor was not trapped in Surge II tonight, but, in a larger sense, we are all in danger of being trapped. We are trapped when we assent to a culture that for decades, and particularly since 9/11, has allowed law enforcement to have more and more power which has moved us into an era of hypercriminalization. We are trapped when we envision no path to reconciliation. And we are trapped when we forget our own power. The students at UC Davis are to be commended for resisting that entrapment, using their own power nonviolently. I pray that the Chancellor will remember her own considerable power in making change on our campus, and in seeking healing and reconciliation.

Kristin’s courage and commitment to non-violence, coupled with the dignity of the protestors, serve as a reminder that the brutal tactics of the police are not the only inheritance we still have with us from the long and ongoing struggle for civil rights.

UC President Mark Yudof (the President is the head of the system of UC campuses) is “appalled,” and he is interested to know what these investigations will turn up. But he also wants to chat.

I am appalled by images of University of California students being doused with pepper spray and jabbed with police batons on our campuses.

I intend to do everything in my power as president of this university to protect the rights of our students, faculty and staff to engage in non-violent protest.

Chancellors at the UC Davis and UC Berkeley campuses already have initiated reviews of incidents that occurred on their campuses. I applaud this rapid response and eagerly await the results.

The University of California, however, is a single university with 10 campuses, and the incidents in recent days cry out for a systemwide response.

Therefore I will be taking immediate steps to set that response in motion.

I intend to convene all 10 chancellors, either in person or by telephone, to engage in a full and unfettered discussion about how to ensure proportional law enforcement response to non-violent protest.
To that end, I will be asking the chancellors to forward to me at once all relevant protocols and policies already in place on their individual campuses, as well as those that apply to the engagement of non-campus police agencies through mutual aid agreements.

Further, I already have taken steps to assemble experts and stakeholders to conduct a thorough, far-reaching and urgent assessment of campus police procedures involving use of force, including post-incident review processes.

My intention is not to micromanage our campus police forces. The sworn officers who serve on our campuses are professionals dedicated to the protection of the UC community.

Nor do I wish to micromanage the chancellors. They are the leaders of our campuses and they have my full trust and confidence.

Nonetheless, the recent incidents make clear the time has come to take strong action to recommit to the ideal of peaceful protest.

As I have said before, free speech is part of the DNA of this university, and non-violent protest has long been central to our history. It is a value we must protect with vigilance. I implore students who wish to demonstrate to do so in a peaceful and lawful fashion. I expect campus authorities to honor that right.

On Friday, 11/18/11, police at UC Davis doused nonviolent protesters with pepper spray.

The police officer with the pepper spray, identified as Lt. John Pike of the UC Davis Campus Police, looks utterly nonchalant, for all the world as if he were hosing aphids off a rose bush.  The scene bespeaks a lack of basic human empathy, an utter intolerance for dissent, or perhaps both.  Pike’s actions met with approval from the chief of campus police, Annette Spicuzza, “who observed the chaotic events on the Quad, [and] said immediately afterward that she was ‘very proud’ of her officers.” Clearly in Chief Spicuzza’s mind there was nothing exceptional about the use of pepper spray against nonviolent protesters.

Campus and community response has held otherwise. Chancellor Linda Katehi (the Chancellor is the top administrative officer of a UC campus) sent an email Friday afternoon saying, “We are saddened to report that during this activity, 10 protestors were arrested and pepper spray was used.”  Note the Reaganesque passive voice.  One might well conclude from that construction that the protesters were the ones using the pepper spray; one does not have one’s attention called to the fact that the Chancellor herself ordered the police to the quad.

A Saturday email from the Chancellor uses slightly stronger language: “Yesterday was not a day that would make anyone on our campus proud”—clearly the Chancellor hasn’t spoken to Chief Spicuzza—“… The use of pepper spray as shown on the video is chilling to us all and raises many questions about how best to handle situations like this.”

But it is clear that the use of pepper spray was not so much chilling as routine for the police officers and also, again, that Chancellor Katehi ordered the police to clear the quad of protesters. Was she then surprised by what ensued?  Did she not see what happened at UC Berkeley only a week ago?  Based on even a passing familiarity with both recent and more distant history, the results should and could have been predicted; a reasonable person should have known to a first approximation how UC campus police might respond when facing nonviolent protesters, and, most important, a prudent administrator should have given strict instructions on how to handle such a situation.

What is remarkable here is less the error of zeal than the sin of ignorance. Violence is an ineffective response to nonviolent protest, a fan to the flames of community unrest. Those of us who teach the history of the US in the 1960s know this; Martin Luther King, Jr. and other leaders in the nonviolent Civil Rights movement understood how to capitalize on the pigheaded stupidity of the policemen they faced. Eugene “Bull” Connor, police chief of Birmingham, used fire hoses and Alsatians against nonviolent protesters, including schoolchildren and college students; Jim Clark, the sheriff at Selma, used tear-gas and billy clubs. Their names we know, for these characters are inextricable from major Civil Rights victories: they helped create the indelible images that shocked the world and fostered lasting change in America.

Or perhaps not that much has changed after all. To see the attitudes of segregationist police officers toward civil dissenters recapitulated on our campus is a matter of great shame. As Chancellor Katehi suggests in her statement linked above, UC Davis should be “a place of inquiry, debate, and even dissent.” We cannot fathom how such sentiments can coexist with the callous brutality of Friday. That said, we agree with the Chancellor. Universities should devote themselves to inquiry and learning. Such activities can thrive only in an atmosphere that not only tolerates but encourages rigorous debate and dissent, an atmosphere in which students and faculty feel confident and safe even when they choose to confront the administration with contrary opinions.

Americans have known for decades it is both immoral and ineffective to meet nonviolence with violence. UC Berkeley and its Chancellor, Robert Birgeneau, provided us a reminder of this lesson last week. But we forget nothing and learn nothing. Ronald Reagan, after all, met UC protesters with tear gas. Which can help you get attention so you can run for higher office. But it is no way to run a campus.

—Ari Kelman and Eric Rauchway

The apostropher brings this video to our attention and remarks, “This…might be the most powerful and effective shaming I have ever witnessed”. Indeed.

UC Davis: “A community that embraces civility.”

Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus, De Re Militari, probably 5th century CE:

We shall now explain the difference between the legions and the auxiliaries. The latter are hired corps of foreigners assembled from different parts of the Empire, made up of different numbers, without knowledge of one another or any tie of affection. Each nation has its own peculiar discipline, customs and manner of fighting. Little can be expected from forces so dissimilar in every respect, since it is one of the most essential points in military undertakings that the whole army should be put in motion and governed by one and the same order. But it is almost impossible for men to act in concert under such varying and unsettled circumstances. They are, however, when properly trained and disciplined, of material service and are always joined as light troops with the legions in the line. And though the legions do not place their principal dependence on them, yet they look on them as a very considerable addition to their strength.

Hm. From Miller-McCune, November 15, 2011:

More than 260,000 contractors were employed in Iraq and Afghanistan as of March 31, 2010…The dominant factor driving savings was the lower wages paid to local and third-country-national contractor employees. The report said that more than 80 percent of those employees were not U.S. citizens…Looming just as large in the report is the unprecedented demand for contractors. “We rely on contractors too heavily, manage them too loosely, and pay them too much,” former commissioner Dov Zakheim testified on Oct. 19 before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness. …The Defense Department simply can’t keep up, according to the report. Oversight has taken a backseat to expediency. “The number of Defense acquisition professionals had declined by 10 percent during a decade that saw contractual obligations triple,” the report states…Contractors represent U.S. policy during times of crisis and conflict and they are essential to wartime operations. Yet, while contractors now make up half the personnel in war zones, “The Defense Department has never treated oversight of contractors as a core function.”…What is more, the contractors control many of the levers of defense, and on that front, the Commission on Wartime Contracting was blunt: “National security is not a business decision.”

QED, or, perhaps, SPQR…

I’m always a little skeptical when people talk about the many opportunities in public history for PhDs who don’t go into the academy. But hey, look!

Newt Gingrich made between $1.6 million and $1.8 million in consulting fees from two contracts with mortgage company Freddie Mac, according to two people familiar with the arrangement.
The total amount is significantly larger than the $300,000 payment from Freddie Mac that Gingrich was asked about during a Republican presidential debate on Nov. 9 sponsored by CNBC, and more than was disclosed in the middle of congressional investigations into the housing industry collapse.
Gingrich’s business relationship with Freddie Mac spanned a period of eight years. When asked at the debate what he did to earn a $300,000 payment in 2006, the former speaker said he “offered them advice on precisely what they didn’t do,” and warned the company that its lending practices were “insane.” Former Freddie Mac executives who worked with Gingrich dispute that account.

One idea that the former Georgia congressman proposed that Freddie Mac didn’t pursue was initiating a program with the Boy Scouts of America to teach youngsters the importance of saving money and maintaining good credit so they would qualify to buy a home later in life.
In 2001, according to one person familiar with the work Gingrich performed, company officials asked him for feedback on their plan to publicly embrace “six voluntary commitments.”
The six items included a pledge to periodically issue subordinated debt, manage liquidity, undergo capital stress tests and expand various types of risk disclosures. Gingrich applauded the ideas, saying they would enable Freddie Mac to demonstrate benefits to the taxpayer, the person said.

“What he did was provide counsel on public policy issues,” Delk said in an interview. “There was no expectation that he would do any lobbying, and he did not do any lobbying.”

What he did for the money is a subject of disagreement. Gingrich said during the CNBC debate that he advised the troubled firm as a “historian.”

Dear financial services firms: I will happily provide you my expertise as a historian, and not in any way a lobbyist, for a much more reasonable rate than Gingrich, and with proportionately less condescension.

Because there’s no petition like repetition, and it’s that most wonderful time of the year again, here’s an oldie, from four years ago when the world and this blog were young and pulling the gowans fine. It’s still the first blog post that comes up when you google my name (don’t google my name), so we might as well run it again. For the rust is on the leaves and the rime is on the meadow, and autumn breezes are blowing into our mailboxes the inquiries of would-be graduate students – so many more than there are spaces for. Here then is an avuncular saying, as from a sadder and a wiser man.

Every year I want to write this post, and every year I think of it too late — which is to say, after we’re in the thick of hiring and graduate school applications. And I wouldn’t want to post it then, because if I did, people would think I was breaking the rules of discretion and referring to some specific applicant.
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I’m annoyed enough lately with the state of the world that I’ve decided it’s time to embrace shunning as an appropriate form of social sanction. Joe Paterno? Shun him. Peter Orszag? Shun him. I could go on.

With that in mind, today we’re going to shun Whitney Blodgett, a student at Princeton who decided that nothing could be funnier than yelling at a bunch of Occupy protestors that, speaking of his buddies, “We’re the 1 percent!” His ever-so-clever buddies followed up with, “Get a job!”

Oh, the revelry! The hijinks! As a friend points out:

You really need to click the article to get a picture of this kid. He’s a freshman, by the way. Nothing like an 18-year-old Ivy League kid, who with a name like “Whitney Blodgett III” is almost certainly a legacy admit, lecturing people on the meritocracy.

Seriously, shun him. And shun his buddies, too.

It’s Sunday, let’s pick on the New York Times. Rather than going after the Sunday Review section, which is much too easy a target (sample from today’s Review is Friedman doing his world-is-flat schtick: first paragraph of his column mentions some technology issue no one has thought about, EXCEPT, second paragraph, this particular profound thinker in a distant but dynamic part of the world where Friedman has journeyed to gain wisdom! Today is “the last mile” in telecom, and the place is “Jodhpur in the Thar Desert of western India”), I thought I would extract one particular article and be mean to it. Read the rest of this entry »

…but it’s spelled Douglas, with one “s”. Which is to say, this is filled with wrong:

Gingrich has been selling GOP primary voters on the value of Lincon-Douglass style debates for a long while now. On Saturday as other days he also promised to pick up Abraham Lincoln’s 1858 tactic of following Stephen Douglass around and speaking the day after him until, Gingrich explained, Douglass agreed to debate him. (Lincoln went on to lose the Senate election against Douglass, but it’s assumed Gingrich expects a different outcome if he’s the GOP nominee and chases Obama across the country.)

Frederick Douglass had the spare “s”. Senator Stephen Douglas, the guy who debated America’s greatest president, had only the one. Anyway, like I said, I know I’m being obnoxious. But in a case like this, I really can’t help myself. Sorry.

Also, probably nobody cares, but Stephen Douglas spelled his name with a second “s” until around 1846, when he first won a Senate seat. He apparently became Stephen “Single S” Douglas in part to distinguish himself from Frederick Douglass.

Is anybody other than me interested in this? No? That’s what I thought. Okay, then.

This does a fine job pointing out the absurdity of a system that everyone knows is anti-democratic and broken but probably won’t be fixed any time soon. Regardless, WY, MT, RI, etc.? I want my ten votes (and my two dollars) back.

Also, here’s Hendrik Hertzberg on the remedy for this mess.

There were, in meeting the crisis of the 1930s, two positions.

(a) Let the Government spend the minimum necessary to keep men alive and to prevent social disturbance; or
(b) Let the Government spend on such a large scale as to provide a positive powerful stimulus to recovery.

This second alternative is often formally embraced by those who in practice support the first position. That is, the actual scale of expenditures that they propose, while sufficient to bring about a serious derangement of the budget, is not sufficient to exert an adequate stimulus to recovery. In consequence, depression conditions tend to be frozen over a considerable period.

Harry Dexter White, 2/26/35

It’s well worth thinking of the living, as well as the dead:

I asked what she would tell the family of a serviceperson killed in action. She wept as she replied, “I hope that they have lots of pictures and I am sorry.” My mind stopped and I had asked too much. I thought of her photo albums that I had helped her preserve after nearly losing them a dozen years ago. My heart was breaking and I felt for the first time a dash of the pain my mother never talks about.

(And, by the way, Garry Trudeau is a mensch).

Poppy jpg

Having taught the War of 1812 the other day, I have to say I only did marginally better than this. And I’ve got no excuse. I’ve read Alan Taylor’s new book.

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