Berkeley in the News

Berkeley in the News is a daily selection of articles and commentaries in the news media that mention UC Berkeley. The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of the campus.

Monday, 21 August 2017

1. UC Berkeley's new chancellor brings optimism — and a world record — to an embattled campus
Los Angeles Times

"Welcome to Cal. I'm so glad you're here," chirped Berkeley's new chancellor, Carol Christ, as she greeted new students arriving on campus last week. She began leading the university as its 11th chancellor in July, and she's the first woman to hold the job. As this profile points out, although she is amply qualified for the rigorous position, "it is her personable style, her penchant to listen and learn, and her natural instinct to connect that draw people in," and it is those qualities that "have helped stir new optimism and excitement on a campus." Executive vice chancellor and provost Paul Alivisatos echoes that sentiment, saying: "This represents a new day for Berkeley. ... Chancellor Christ has a clear idea of what needs to be done to address the challenges we face. Her history here affords her a great deal of credibility among the campus community. Everywhere I go on campus, I am hearing enthusiastic comments from students, staff and faculty about the confidence they have in her as a leader and the hope she is kindling in our community." Another in-depth profile of Chancellor Christ appeared in the UK's Times Higher Education.
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2. Conservative Provacateur Yiannopoulos Attending 'Free Speech Week' At UC

After Chancellor Carol Christ announced plans last week for a "Free Speech Year," former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos declared that he would return to campus for a "Free Speech Week" on Sproul Plaza between Sept. 24 and 27. A speech he had planned to give on campus in February was cancelled at the last minute due to protests that turned violent. He says he expects protests, but he's urging non-violence this time. "I want the violence to be verbal, and I want it to be on stage," he says. Link to video. Another story on this topic appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.
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3. After Charlottesville, Colleges Reassessing Safety Plans
New York Times (*requires registration)

Leaders of college campuses around the country are gearing up for free speech demonstrations in the coming school year, and they're focusing on student safety. Speaking to students last week, Chancellor Carol Christ noted that Berkeley's Free Speech Movement in the 1960s was a product of liberals and conservatives working together to win the right to hold political protests on campus. "Particularly now, it is critical for the Berkeley community to protect this right; it is who we are," she said. "That protection involves not just defending your right to speak, or the right of those you agree with, but also defending the right to speak by those you disagree with. Even of those whose views you find abhorrent. ... We respond to hate speech with more speech." Still, she emphasized safety. "We now know we have to have a far higher number of police officers ready," she said. This story appeared in more than 250 sources.
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4. Op-Ed: How to Make Fun of Nazis
New York Times (*requires registration)

Speaking of anti-fascist violence, classics and comparative literature professor emeritus Michael Nagler, founder of Berkeley's Peace and Conflict Studies program, is quoted here for pointing out that if violence against minorities is what you detest, then "you are using the very force you're trying to overcome."
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5. Lights out: Eclipse to have big impact on California power
CleanTech Canada

The solar eclipse today was expected to carry a significant cost in lost power to California's solar cells, and grid managers say they had been preparing for the event for more than a year, so they're pretty sure no one will lose power during the three-hour sunshine curtailment. Professor Daniel Kammen, chair of Berkeley's Energy & Resources Group, says the eclipse highlights the need for energy storage technology to balance the fluctuations in supply that come with renewable energy. "It's building us toward a point where we can run the economy off renewable energy and store the excess in a diverse range of batteries."
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6. Op-Ed: CSU finally ends remedial classes that delay progress toward a degree
San Francisco Chronicle

Finally fulfilling a 22-year-old promise to eliminate remedial classes, the California State University system is signaling "a commitment to remove barriers to student success and equity, writes Pamela Burdman, an education policy analyst affiliated with Berkeley's Center for Studies in Higher Education. Noting that the classes were meant to help students, she says that recent studies have shown they discourage many students – especially underrepresented minorities – from earning degrees, and that many students really don't need them to succeed. Now, she says, "unless the new rules are transparent and evidence-based, inequalities may persist." Suggesting ways to achieve their goals, she cites research by colleague Saul Geiser, a research associate at the Center for Studies in Higher Education.
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7. Venezuela Cancels Gustavo Dudamel Tour After His Criticisms
New York Times (*requires registration)

Apparently punishing Gustavo Dudamel, the Venezuelan music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, for his increasing criticism of their handling of the Venezuelan national crisis, the country's government has canceled Dudamel's planned tour of the U.S. with the National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela. Berkeley's Greek Theatre had been one of the tour's destinations. Calling the cancellation "heartbreaking," Dudamel promised: "We will continue to play and to fight for a better Venezuela and a better world." And Matías Tarnopolsky, Cal Performances' director, said: "The orchestra has an open invitation to Berkeley. ... We need now to engage the power of music to build bridges and create dialogue, and I look forward to welcoming these spirited, young musicians to share their artistry with us as soon as possible."
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8. Are Octopuses Smart?

Integrative biology professor Roy Caldwell consults on a story about octopus intelligence. An expert on the topic, he talks about one of his Australian lab's octopuses, which went missing in 2014 only to be found hidden in the completely separate tank of a female. The only possible conclusion was that the octopus had reached the other tank by wriggling through the water pipe feeding both tanks, but Professor Caldwell's not certain that was planned in an intelligent way. Instead, he says of the octopus's success: "I think it was just luck and based on the fact that octopus like to explore tubes."
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