CFHE statement on the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education

The Campaign for the Future of Higher Education is trying to prevent the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.  The IFA supports this campaign and encourages colleagues to call our senators (phone numbers below). As well, please forward this message to colleagues across the United States, especially those in red states. The CFHE letter follows:

Statement on Betsy DeVos Nomination

The nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education raises alarms that the new administration will fail to support college access and affordability for millions of current and future college students. Her nomination signals a blatant disregard for not only the magnitude of college debt plaguing our students but also the widespread fraud that has been exposed in the for-profit sector across the country. It also reveals an irresponsible resistance to protecting students from sexual assault, gun violence, ensuring the rights of immigrants, and students
with disabilities.

Equally troubling, at her confirmation hearing and in the disclosure of her extensive financial entanglements, DeVos refused to commit to enforcing existing laws protecting students from fraudulent practices. Her financial connections to a student loan collection agency and
inexperience managing the trillion dollar student loan portfolio that would be her responsibility reinforce her unsuitability for the position.

Her responses to questions in her confirmation hearing raised concerns about the safety of students on our campuses. When asked about Title IX, DeVos indicated that as Secretary she would refuse to ensure that existing campus sexual assault prevention and response processes are respected and improved. She also refused to endorse a ban on guns in K-12 schools, suggesting that she would take a similar position with respect to college campuses.

DeVos also demonstrated a woeful ignorance of the federal scope of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act; her lack of understanding puts the rights of all students with disabilities at risk. We also do not know  if she would respect the protections of DACA on
which DREAMER students depend for their safety and protection.

In short, we believe that Betsy DeVos is singularly unqualified to fulfill the Department of Education’s obligation to ensure that all students who seek a college education will have fair access and will  receive the highest quality education possible with a minimum of debt. Her lack of experience and expertise is a black hole into which the nation’s students, faculty, and campus communities cannot afford to be pushed.

CFHE urges you to have your members make calls to their Senators IMMEDIATELY urging them to reject Betsy DeVos’s nomination as Secretary of Education.

To reach your Senator:
Feinstein, Dianne – 331 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510 (202) 224-3841
Harris, Kamala D. – 112 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510 (202) 224-3553

Contact information for Senators outside of California can be found HERE.

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The $48 fix: Reclaiming California’s Master Plan for Higher Education

On Thursday, January 26, the UC Regents will consider and likely approve their budget for the University for 2017-2018. It and the Governor’s budget, to which it is closely tied, perpetuate decades of failed privatization and persistent under funding of the University and of public higher education more generally. At UC and as compared to both 1990-1991 and 2000-2001, total per student expenditures for instruction and the State general fund contribution to per student instruction are sharply down while the inflation-adjusted contributions from students through tuition and fees are 70% higher than they were in 2000-2001 and 135% higher than they were in 1990-1991. Students and their families are paying more and getting less.

It has become conventional “wisdom” that this continuing decline is inevitable and that viable alternatives do not exist.

The report The $48 fix: Reclaiming California’s MASTER PLAN for Higher Education demonstrates that there is an affordable alternative that restores public higher education in California.

“It turns out that keeping the full promise of the Master Plan-returning the state’s investment per CSU and UC student to 2000 levels (inflation-adjusted); eliminating tuition and fees for all in-state UC, CSU and CCC students; and funding seats for qualified California high-school graduates now refused access to the system-is affordable.”

“California’s two-decade experiment in privatizing higher education has failed, as it has failed in the rest of the country. Top-quality, accessible and appropriate higher education that affords opportunity to all California students has been replaced with a system that restricts access, costs students more and compromises educational quality. Exploding student debt constricts students’ futures and harms the economy as a whole. It is entirely feasible to reinstate California’s proven success in public higher education. Several reasonable funding options can be mixed and matched to make the costs remarkably low for almost all California families. Our state has the means and the opportunity. Will we recover our political will and vision?”

This report was produced by the Reclaim California Higher Education coalition, which includes the Council of University of California Faculty Associations and other organizations dedicated to affordable, accessible, and excellent public higher education in California.

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Defense of Undocumented and other Vulnerable Categories of Students

The Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA) wrote the following letter to President Napolitano on November 23, 2016.

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Dear President Napolitano,

We applaud your timely declaration in the immediate aftermath of the election that the UC administration “remain[s] absolutely committed to supporting all members of our community and adhering to UC’s Principles Against Intolerance.”[1]

Like you, we are gravely concerned by the statements made by President-elect Donald Trump during the campaign, and in the aftermath of his victory, targeting particularly vulnerable communities such as undocumented Latinos and Muslim immigrants.

We support your subsequent statement to the UC Regents that “it is more important than ever that we preserve our core values, expand opportunity, and create and share knowledge in the public interest.”[2] We also support your decision to meet with representatives of undocumented students, and to institute a task force to help UC students who are in the country without legal permission and who may be at greater risk of deportation under a Trump administration.

We endorse the joint letter you wrote with CSU Chancellor Timothy White and CC Interim President Erik Skinner to the California congressional delegation asking for the restoration of year-long Pell grants.[3] CUCFA has long believed in the inextricable connection between affordable higher education and the benefits of all forms of diversity to knowledge-production, society, and democracy. We greatly appreciate the advocacy of our leaders on behalf of our students.

In short, we stand united with our administrators against any threats directed at our students and fellow employees, or any words or acts of hate that threaten our mission as a public research university committed to the betterment of our global society through teaching, learning, and the dissemination of new knowledge. We pledge to stand up for, support, and defend the most vulnerable among us, those deliberately targeted in the lead up to the election, and those who are now victims of hate in its wake – members of our community who are undocumented, people of color, LGBTQ people, Muslims (and other religious minorities), immigrants, people with disabilities, and women.

To implement these policy principles, we urge that, in collaboration with the chancellors and other appropriate authorities, you:

  • Explore all legal venues to refuse to act on behalf of federal agents, and to withhold information on the immigration status, religion, and national origin of our students, faculty, or staff;
  • Not enter into agreements with state or local law enforcement agencies, Homeland Security or any other federal department for the enforcement of federal immigration law;
  • Instruct university police not to honor immigration hold requests, and not to contact, detain, question or arrest individuals solely on the basis of being, or suspected of being, a person that lacks documentation;
  • Standardize a UC systemwide administrative office with responsibility for counseling DACA students on their educational situation;
  • Publicize that DACA student counseling services are available on a strictly confidential basis;
  • Continue to allow DACA-eligible students to pay in-state resident tuition;
  • Ensure student’s access to health care and financial aid within California law;
  • Invest in faculty and staff training for UndocuAlly modules developed by UC Davis;[4]
  • Commit to allow undocumented students to work on UC campuses in the event that the DACA provisions were repealed;
  • Take these measures before Inauguration Day so that DACA students can be assured of institutional support.

We are aware of the many calls to consider declaring all UCs “sanctuary campuses” before the inauguration of President-elect Trump.[5] While we support the spirit of this call, believing that Universities have an ethical obligation to assist undocumented students against threats of deportation, we are concerned that the idea of sanctuary campuses does not have any legal status, and agree with Cal State Chancellor White that declaring any public university a “sanctuary” may give a false sense of security “to the very people we support and serve.”[6] We urge you to study all legal and symbolic ramifications of declaring UC campuses “sanctuaries,” and to involve students, staff, and faculty in making that decision. Accordingly, we ask you to charge the announced task force on undocumented students with discussing explicitly the issue of sanctuary status and to make their findings public before January 20.

It is estimated that one third of the over 740,000 undocumented students in the US reside in California, and our state already has multiple progressive policies designed to support undocumented immigrants, including measures that help them access healthcare, driver’s licenses and student loans. We have a responsibility not only to reassure our students that we will stand by them in the face of deportation if laws were passed in that direction, but to lead the nation in rejecting policies opposed to the core values of our university.

For this reason we support your actions to date and reiterate our desire to work with you and other university leaders to advance these important goals.

On behalf of the Council of UC Faculty Associations Board,
Stanton Glantz,
President, Council of UC Faculty Associations
Professor of Medicine, UCSF


[1] http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/education/article113780763.html

[2] http://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-ln-uc-regents-20161116-story.html

[3] https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/uc-president-joins-california-higher-education-and-uc-student-leaders-support-pell-grants

[4] http://undocumented.ucdavis.edu/education/ally.html

[5] http://www.politico.com/states/california/story/2016/11/proposal-turn-californias-massive-public-higher-ed-system-into-sanctuary-campuses-to-stop-trump-107463

[6] http://mynewsla.com/education/2016/11/17/no-sanctuary-at-cal-state-university-but-no-cooperation-with-trump-immigration/

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A Statement of Principles for Choosing New University of California Chancellors

The Council of UC Faculty Associations, with the assistance of the Irvine Faculty Association, has developed criteria for Chancellor searches in light of the vacancies at the Davis and Berkeley campuses. We welcome your feedback.

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A University of California Chancellor must be committed both to broad access to university education and to scholarly excellence, and have a proven record of support for the value of public education. A Chancellor must recognize that, despite increases in fundraising for specific projects, efforts at privatization have failed to sustain the University’s central mission of education, research, and service for the people of California. In addition to providing intellectual vision and integrity, the Chancellor should demonstrate accountability to the principles and the public mission of the university.

To be forthright and transparent in dealings with the UC community and the public, the Chancellor must show by example the values held by the UC system:

•    By focusing on education, research, and public service, not on peripheral capital projects not directly related to the university’s primary teaching and research missions that saddle the university with high levels of debt.

•    By respecting shared governance between administration and faculty as vital to insulating academic freedom from external political and financial influence.

•    By limiting the number of out-of-state undergraduate students to maximize opportunity for Californians.

•    By reducing the number of senior managers; senior management has grown by a factor of three or four over the last 20 years while the number of faculty has remained stagnant and the number of students increased by 60%.

•    By making the administrative leadership transparent and by opening the budget to meaningful faculty review and input.

•    By implementing a cap on the salary of the Chancellor and other senior administrators, limited to a given multiplier of the lowest paid workers on campus on the grounds that a corporate salary leads to corporate attitudes, whereas a more modest salary corresponds to public service and respects the financial needs of students, faculty, and the institution.

•    By pledging not to accept any paid external board service or paid consulting with for-profit entities.

•    By developing new community outreach programs, involving the teaching and research role of campus faculty and students and, more generally, elevating the contributions of UC to the people of California.

Accordingly, the process of choosing the Chancellor should be open to the university community:

•    The short list of candidates selected by the search committee and forwarded to the President should be publicly discussed. The candidates should be invited to campus for public presentations and comments from the university community should be debated by the search committee.

•    The President and Regents should make their decision after consultation with the Academic Senate to ensure a candidate the whole campus supports.

Council of University of California Faculty Associations

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CUCFA’s Letter to the President of Long Island University

Dear Dr. Cline:

The Council of University of California Faculty Associations is extremely alarmed by the “lock out” action taken by your administration against the faculty of LIU-Brooklyn.

The action has no precedent in higher education in this country and constitutes a grave assault on unions, labor negotiations, and faculty themselves.

We urge you to reconsider this tactic and return to the negotiating table to bargain in good faith.

To do otherwise is to antagonize hardworking and dedicated faculty for years to come, devastate the educational aspirations and expectations of your students, many of whom have overcome tremendous obstacles to arrive at your college gates, and produce pariah status for LIU-Brooklyn in American higher education.

This path has no future for your institution and we urge you to reconsider.

Sincerely,

The Board of the Council of UC Faculty Associations

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Alarming Changes to UC Regents’ Governance Structure

The IFA is deeply concerned that on July 20, 2016, he Regents voted to make changes that erode UC faculty’s legal and practical standing in shared governance. These changes might make it more difficult for students, faculty, staff and public to monitor policies that affect all of us.

As Robert Meister points out, this could be the end of shared governance as a constitutional principle in the UC system. Please follow these links for more analysis:

Regents Propose Centralization Without Real Justification, Tuesday, July 19, 2016, by Michael Meranze, Remaking the University

Alarming Changes to UC Regent’s Governance Structure,  July 19, 2016, Robert Meister as posted on the Council of U.C. Faculty Associations’ (CUCFA) website.

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Faculty Association Inquiry/Request for Information Regarding UCI’s Review Process of Recent Campus Protest

Dear Chancellor Gillman,

We are writing on behalf of the Irvine Faculty Association about UCI’s recent response to student protest on campus.  UCI referred some protesters of the May 18, 2016 screening of the film “Beneath the Helmet” to the OC District Attorney, which we consider wrong and inappropriate in advance of a UCI report of serious misconduct by UCI students.

UCI needs to be clear on what basis it forwards allegations of misconduct on campus to the police.  This information needs to be public at a public university.  UCI’s response to protest against Israel should be consistent with its response to other protest or student conduct on campus.

We therefore ask for a clear policy statement on UCI’s referral of conduct cases to the DA—what the procedures are for forwarding cases to the DA, and when such forwarding has occurred or should occur.

It’s been reported in the press that students attending the screening said they were threatened by protesters and called the UC police.  We take their charge seriously and believe all our students deserve to be safe and protected from harassment and intimidation.  This applies to the protestors as well.  UCI should investigate all student complaints fairly, and have compelling and complete evidence of criminal action before referring student conduct cases to the State.  It is the IFA’s position that protest should not be referred to the DA in order that the DA determine whether there is reason to refer the actions to the DA.

We therefore hereby ask for the official police report on the student protest of “Beneath the Helmet” on May 18, 2016.

Particularly in cases of protest, free speech, and related activities, no case should be forwarded to the DA unless and until meaningful review has been carried out by appropriate UCI bodies, following an accepted process that determines whether students violated not only UCI policy but the criminal code.  UCI should gather the complete evidence available about the event, and review it in a fair and consistent manner.  To the best of our understanding, this review has not been carried out here.  Instead you sent a letter to the UCI community the day after the event, criticizing the protesters for “crossing a line” into “uncivil” behavior, based on allegations that have yet to be investigated.  To this day, no UCI review body or evidence of actions on either side of the dispute has been made public.

We therefore call on UCI to publicly withdraw the case from criminal investigation until such review process can be engaged fully, and to follow consistent and fair practices when doing so.

We look forward to your response at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,
The IFA board
Eyal Amiran
Mark LeVine
Kristin Peterson
Irene Tucker

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UC task force considering pension cuts

If you are concerned about a further erosion of compensation at UC, follow the link below to read CUCFA’s (the Council of UC Faculty Associations) explanation of the proposals made by President Napolitano’s UC task force. The task force has been charged with developing a new UC Retirement Plan (UCRP) Tier 2016 for faculty and other employees hired after June 30, 2016.

The November 5, 2015 document from CUCFA also explains what you can do to make your views known to the task force.

Posted in Benefits and tuition, CUCFA Statements and Letters, University Managment | Leave a comment

We ask Governor Brown to sign SB-376

Dear Governor Brown,

As faculty of the University of California, we are writing to urge you to sign bill SB-376, requiring the University of California compensate its subcontracted workers at the same level as those who are hired directly, that is, requiring equal pay for the same work.

It is a disgrace that the University is seeking to balance its budget on the backs of its lowest-paid workers.  Subcontracting increases the possibility of wage theft and generally exploitative treatment of workers. The recent case of Performance First Building Services, currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor for such abuses, is but one instance in a long and shameful history. SB-376 would remove the University’s incentive to allow such exploitation to take place, ensuring that subcontractors be used only in the case of tasks that could most efficiently be handled externally, and not as a form of backdoor access to cheap labor.

The University administration has spoken against this bill, concerned that the costs will further imperil the fragile economic condition of the University. We share that concern and urge the state to take these costs into consideration in allocating future resources.  However, we strongly reject the suggestion that the University should solve its economic problems by outsourcing to private contractors who have demonstrated that they have no regard for the laws of our state or the welfare of the employees they hire to work on our campuses.

The University of California is an important public institution and, as faculty members committed to its historic public character, we urge you to ensure that it uphold that public mandate by paying its workers both decently and fairly.

Sincerely yours,

Joe Kiskis, Vice President External Affairs,
Council of UC Faculty Association

Posted in CUCFA Statements and Letters, State Politics and Economy, University Managment | 1 Comment

Statement by CUCFA and AAUP on Regent Blum’s Remarks

In response to remarks by Regent Blum at the  September 17, 2015 Regents meeting held at UC Irvine, the IFA, as part of CUCFA and the AAUP, have released a statement expressing deep concern and condemnation.

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The Council of University of California Faculty Associations and the American Association of University Professors write to protest the following remarks made by University of California Regent Richard Blum and then supported by Regent Hadi Makarechian during the discussion of a proposed Statement of Principles Against Intolerance at the Board of Regents meeting on September 17, 2015:

“I should add that over the weekend my wife, your senior Senator, and I talked about this issue at length. She wants to stay out of the conversation publicly but if we do not do the right thing she will engage publicly and is prepared to be critical of this university if we don’t have the kind of not only statement but penalties for those who commit what you can call them crimes, call them whatever you want. Students that do the things that have been cited here today probably ought to have a dismissal or a suspension from school. I don’t know how many of you feel strongly that way but my wife does and so do I.”

These remarks by Regent Blum explicitly invoke his wife, U.S. Senator from California Dianne Feinstein, and threaten negative political consequences for the University if the proposed Statement of Principles Against Intolerance is not revised so as to be agreeable to him and Senator Feinstein. As such, they violate the spirit, if not the letter, of Article IX, Section 9 of the California Constitution, which declares that “The university shall be entirely independent of all political or sectarian influence and kept free therefrom in the appointment of its regents and in the administration of its affairs.”

Whatever varied opinions we may hold on the proposed Statement of Principles or any other matter for University discussion, we should all join in rejecting any attempt by a Regent to influence University deliberations by calling on external political forces in this manner.

The complex and competing issues involved in developing a suitable Statement of Principles Against Intolerance are matters of discussion and intellectual inquiry within the University. The purpose of academic freedom is to protect such inquiry from external political interference, and it is the duty of the members of the Board of Regents to uphold academic freedom and to protect the university from external constraints on this freedom. So it is very troubling to hear a Regent make statements that directly undermine free inquiry and the independence of the University. It is particularly disconcerting in this case, because among the central issues are academic freedom and free speech.

We understand that individual Regents, in their private capacity, like many others in the community, may hold strong views on this and many other issues. However, in their official capacity, the Regents have the responsibility to uphold the rights of University administrators and faculty to determine internal University policies through established processes of shared governance free of external political pressure and threats from any source, including the Regents’ own spouses, relatives and friends. We call upon the Regents, the President, and the Provost to provide explicit assurances that they will support and protect the independence and integrity of the continuing discussions of a possible Statement of Principles Against Intolerance.

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