Berkeley's Conservative Voice

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Equality Strikes Again

Just this afternoon, Chancellor Birgeneau e-mailed UC Berkeley's staff, students, and alumni to announce the administration's plan for a "sustainable financial future". Citing rising athletics program costs, he described a new fiscal plan that would reduce athletics funding by about 60% by 2014 and reducing the number of Intercollegiate Sports to 24, from 29. On the chopping block are lacrosse (women's), rugby (men's), gymnastics (men's and women's), and the timeless American pastime, baseball (men's). He commented only that rugby was a club sport at Cal until the early '90s - something of a cold comfort to the rugby team, and no consolation whatsoever to the others:

"This will allow rugby to compete at and maintain the same high level of national and international excellence which it currently enjoys while becoming self-sustaining. We are working through the details of this transition. These complex decisions also take into account the requirements of Title IX and of our ability to provide our student athletes with the support programs and facilities that they need to succeed and excel on and off the field."

A few thoughts come immediately to mind. Why these five, especially baseball? If rugby can not only survive, but excel, in a "self-sustaining" environment, why can't the more heavily subsidized football?

But perhaps more importantly, note the vacuous reference to Title IX, presented in typical Birgeneau fashion. As usual, he implies a problem while avoiding anything that might be construed as politically incorrect. So we'll do what he won't and just say it: the elimination of baseball and rugby is at least in part due to Title IX, proving once again that when government tries to make things fair, the unintended consequence of the policy is simply to make everyone worse off.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Starcraft DECal

Over at The Politicizer, I recount some memories of the Starcraft DECal offered at Cal in 2009. The article describes what was taught in the class, and - surprise! - it wasn't all fun and games. Those with an interest in economics or education should check it out!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bearcardo Watch - ASUC In your Bedroom

It's been a while since we've had an installment of bearcardo watch. Perhaps you may have started to think that all this blog's concerns about him using his office for radical causes were overblown.

Unfortunately, you'd be wrong.

Indeed, we now have confirmation, by way of the September 1 Senate meeting (reported just now because the Senate's meeting minutes take forever to produce because they last so long) that bearcardo has not only been using his office to promote radical beliefs, he's been using your money. From the minutes:

Mr. McLeod said he wanted to thank Mr. Gomez for his work against the cyber university. He asked about the Disorientation Guide, how the distribution went and how much it cost. Mr. Gomez said they had 3,200 copies and it cost $1,300 to print them. They brought together campus constituencies, students, workers, alumni, and faculty to help. The copies went really quickly and the reaction has been good. If there's enough demand, they'll probably do it again in the spring. The Web site received 4,500 hits in the last few days. In comparison, it costs about $1,600 to send seven people to a UCSA conference. The Guide cost $1,300 and went to thousands of students. Mr. Gomez said a goal of his office was to find cost effective ways to engage students and have them ask questions and come up with solutions.


And what is this "disorientation guide?" At the risk of inflating Mr. Gomez's traffic levels and thus his ego a little bit more, check out the web version.

Most of it is the predictable revolutionary garbage we talked about in the first installment. But there is one article in particular that is interesting for a completely different reason. And remember, this was printed and distributed to thousands of students using MANDATORY student fees (warning, not PG-13 - or R for that matter):

If I had the power to give you a homework assignment, I’d ask you to partake in some weird sex, either by yourself, with a partner or more, or vicariously over the internet. But alas I have no such power. The thing is: weird sex tends to feel really good and be enjoyable on an mental level as well. So try something new. If you’re nervous to try with a partner, try it on yourself when you get a spare moment alone. Also, if weird sex to you means fantasizing or masturbation, you’re not the only one. It’s not a race to be hardcore the quickest, it’s about having the most pleasurable journey possible.

Uh, thanks Ricardo? I'm sure this is exactly the kind of service to the student body the founders of the ASUC had in mind when they created it in 1887. But wait, there's more. Apparently your ASUC sponsored bedroom fun need not be restricted to one person (no word on whether it is also ADA accessible):

Q: Does having several lovers make things more complicated?

A: In all honesty, I think that if it’s not complicated, you’re doing it wrong. Luckily, complicated does not necessarily equal dramatic, so long as people can be open-minded, communicative, understanding and patient. This of course is not always possible.

Q: Isn’t casual dating for young people who will grow up and settle down?

A: Not necessarily. There comes a point when the idea of a monogamous relationship just feels downright oppressive, and one would no sooner go back to that than to the dreadful years of middle school. People can sustain emotionally invested multiple relationships for years, longer than some marriages.

Look, I have no problem with talking about sex. The Daily Cal's Sex on Tuesday is totally fine. Even if this was a student group doing this as opposed to an ASUC official, I'd probably have no problem with this.

But it shouldn't be funded by mandatory student fees. If bearcardo and the rest of whomever he is working with want to publish a magazine, they should either raise the money themselves are at the very least go through the same ASUC application process as everyone else. I also don't see how this has ANYTHING to do with the mission of the External Affairs office. Even if you accept the position that the EAVP can use his office to advocate on behalf of anything he or she pleases, I fail to see his this accomplishes any change for the student body.

If you want to represent the students, you have to speak FOR them, not AT them.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The good of the ASUC

As you might have noticed, I'm not exactly the biggest fan of the ASUC. On the other hand, I don't hate it. Indeed, it serves a very important purpose on campus by distributing funds for student groups. I have benefited personally from ASUC funds that have been invaluable to student groups I have been a part of. So I agree with its purpose.

However, there is a serious problem of lack of oversight in the ASUC. Once upon a time (3 years ago) there were several blogs that kept an eye on the ASUC from all over the ideological spectrum (Beetle, Cal Stuff, and the predecessor to this blog just name name a few). Before we relaunched this blog, there were zero. Granted the Daily Cal occasionally digs stuff up, but they rely on the ASUC to lower their rent and thus are fundamentally not independent. As a result, the ASUC has felt that there has been no one watching their day to day activities and thus there have been some disturbing abuses of power over the past couple of years. So we are here not to villainize the ASUC but hopefully to keep them focused on their two main missions, distributing student activities funds and advocating for the student body on issues that affect us as a group (for example, fighting fee increases, not divesting from Israel).

In accordance, I wanted to take the time as the school year begins to highlight some individuals within the ASUC who are doing a good job and deserve a shout out. This list is by no means exhaustive.

Executive Vice President Nanxi Liu. The EVP's main job is presiding officer of the Senate. While time will tell whether we can avoid the 13 hour meets of the past couple of years, it appears Liu is serious about keeping the Senate running smoothly. She's posted several times already on the significantly under-viewed ASUC blog, which she has used to update the general student body about the happenings of the Senate. She hosted by what all accounts was a stellar orientation for the new senate, and sent them several homework assignments over the summer. So there will be no excuse the first time the Senate is caught breaking the by-laws.

Senators who have utilized the ASUC Blog: In the past few years, a big problem with the ASUC has been lack of transparency. The aforementioned ASUC elected officials blog, if it's actually used, should help to fix that. So far six senators - Alabastro, Del Rosso, Freeman, Goldstein, McLeod, and Montouth have posted in addition to Nanxi. The other 14 senators and four execs should get off their rear ends and write something to justify their titles.

Nad Permaul: The real power of the ASUC lies not with the president or the senate, but with the ASUC Auxiliary. Once upon a time this was not the case and students controlled virtually everything regarding student life, including the hiring and firing of the football coach (imagine how long that Senate meeting would take - the Senators would miss the next week of class). Like most quasi governmental organizations however, the student leadership eventually got into the habit of spending beyond its means and by 1997 ran up a huge debt to the university that it simply could not pay off (sound familiar California?). Instead of shutting down the place, the university administration was nice enough to let its operations continue under the new auxiliary organization, essentially a hybrid between the ASUC and the university.

For the past few years, the director of this organization has been Dr. Nad Permaul, also a poli sci and rhetoric lecturer. I've known Nad almost from the moment I set foot on campus two years ago. He cares deeply about the university and its students (he earned his bachelors, masters, AND Ph.D from Cal) but more importantly is an extremely capable administrator. In an association filled with partisan egomaniacs, he has risen above the fray and as the adult in the room has advocated what is in the best interest of the student body, not the vocal minority that seems to dominate the ASUC.

That's all for now, but there will be more to come.

Friday, September 3, 2010

PBS Visits ASUC Senate

According to a blog posting by Senator Elliot Goldstein, PBS was scheduled to visit the ASUC Senate meeting this week (don't know if they actually did or not) to get some film for a documentary. If it did happen, we are guessing a large purple dinosaur was in attendance - his show would be most appropriate for a showcase on the ASUC. Or maybe a big yellow bird. Indeed, ASUC could be the word of the day! A for Annoying, S for Spending (too much), U for Utopian worldviews, and C for Chaos!

In other news, said meeting apparently lasted over 6 hours. They aren't off to a good start. No word on whether Barney stayed till the end.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Did State Treasurer Bill Lockyer Lie to the Daily Cal?

Last night, California state Treasurer Bill Lockyer (Democrat) came back to his alma mater to talk about the budget crisis. In the midst of his visit, he sat down and talked with the Daily Cal. One of the questions was about what students who are having financial difficulties can do to improve their situation. The last part of his response is as follows:

The University of California needs to find a way to maximize aid to
students, and the students need to keep lobbying. Proposition 25, which is on
the November ballot, could also help students and parents, seeing as the budget could be determined by two-thirds of voters rather than the politicians


Proposition 25, for those that are unfamiliar, is a ballot measure in November's election that would lower the threshold to pass a budget to a majority instead of two thirds, thus ensuring one party rule in Sacramento. It is perhaps the most important "No" vote you should cast this year.

It is an utter mystery where Lockyer gets the claim that Prop 25 would empower the voters in any way. It also doesn't take power away from the politicians - indeed it gives power to them by allowing them to pass a budget without consulting their colleagues on the other side of the aisle. The only thing it does do is dock legislators' pay if the budget is late. It doesn't take any power away from them. Read the text for yourself. There is nothing there about giving power to voters or taking it away from politicians. Not even proponents try to claim it does. Lockyer's statement can't be defended as political spin - it simply has no factual basis at all.

Either the treasurer was ill informed (unlikely, in which case he needs to issue a correction), was misquoted by the Daily Cal (possible, yours truly has been misquoted by the DC not once but twice, but if this is the case then Lockyer needs to request a correction) or he is trying to mislead Cal students into voting for Prop. 25 based on false pretences. In any case, the treasurer owes us an explanation.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Public Employee Union Wins, People Suffer

As you may recall a few weeks ago AC Transit, our lovely bus provider, asked its highly paid employees to share in some of the sacrifices that we are all making in this tough economy. They said no, and eventually a judge let them have their way. Keep in mind that the average BUS DRIVER gets paid $98,800 in pay and benefits BEFORE overtime just for the privilege of scowling at you when you board their bus.

So it's natural that in a time like this these drivers would be asked to sacrifice. Unfortunately the Amalgamated Transit Union, which also represents the BART employees who came within hours of stranding riders list year over a refusal to help that agency with its budget crisis, has refused to put in its fair share. So now riders will suffer, with many lines being cut and overnight service facing near elimination.

It's another example of public employee unions getting their way at the expense of the public they serve.