Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Los Angeles Times Misses the Point

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau announced he was resigning yesterday and I know I speak for a fair number of students, faculty and staff in saying "Good riddance." But you would never know that faculty had debated a vote of no confidence in Birgeneau's during recent months or that student government was presently having a similar discussion if you read the Los Angeles Times:
Birgeneau, whose annual salary is $436,800, presided over the highly political campus during an uptick in protests over tuition hikes. In November, the Occupy movement erected a tent city on campus and student demonstrators contended that UC police brutally used batons to evict them.
There is no need to frame the UC police brutality as an unproven allegation. There are lots and lots of videos of what happened: police beat up students and professors before a tent city was ever even erected (and they beat students the same way two years before in 2009, it's a pattern). One professor was dragged to the ground by her hair. She now faces criminal charges. Birgeneau's police force perpetrated needless violence and he is responsible for their actions. This is Birgeneau's real legacy. The LA Times completely trivializes it.

As a side note, I would like to apologize on behalf of UC Berkeley to the Los Angeles Times for being such a highly political campus. I know that in college you're supposed to learn to start taking things lying down so that you'll be prepared for the real world of - oh wait a minute, are we are supposed to be living in a democracy where taking interest and action in how society is governed is not just honorable, but necessary? I totally forgot seeing as how the Los Angeles Times just published a hagiography for a man who silenced the voices of his uppity highly political campus through violent beatings, intimidation, and the threat of more violent beatings.

Yesterday, a friend summed up Birgeneau best by saying, "It's a shame his passion for higher education didn't extend to the students of higher education." It's too bad the LA Times was too busy crediting Herr Chancellor with all the Nobel Prizes that Berkeley faculty have won during his tenure to ask a student or two what they thought of his "leadership."

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