Wednesday, April 6, 2011

UC Berkeley Administration Cancels Negotiations

Again, thosewhouseit has the goods:
The following email was written by Felicia Lee, Chief of Staff for Vice Chancellor Harry LeGrande. She has been the administration’s pointperson for interfacing with the Wheeler ledge occupiers regarding the “dialogue” to be had this Friday. We write “dialogue” because -- and we can’t say we’re surprised -- the administration is not interested in negotiations with students and workers about campus privatization; they are only “interested in having a serious exchange of ideas through thoughtful dialogue and not a negotiation.” Moreover, Lee explicitly threatens to cancel the meeting if a rally takes place.

In addition, she rejects all but one of the student negotiators who have been preparing for this meeting. Only those who were actually on the ledge are invited. The worker is rejected as well, as apparently AFT doesn’t count as a real union to these people. In short, with 2 days’ notice, everything is up in the air.

These people disgust us. They “welcome a serious exchange of ideas regarding OE and to support that goal, it would be great if the attendees could take a few moments to review the OE website prior to the meeting.” We are welcome to discuss these cuts, but they are a given. Negotiations are off the table. Here’s what the head of OE Andrew Szeri had to say:
This is meant to be a civil, open discussion to see why these students are so adamant about ending [Operational Excellence]. We will not be ending Operational Excellence, it is that simple. But we do want to hear what they have to say.
We can’t say we’re surprised. These are the people who consistently call in riot cops on students with no history of violence, turn a blind eye as they are blasted with pepper spray, and disseminate Mogulof lies to the media. We will not stand idly by as the administration attempts to use this meeting as a shroud of legitimacy for its austerity measures. We are not interested in “exchanging ideas.” This budget-cut fatalism masks the substantive issue on the table: austerity is a done deal for these people. A line is drawn in the sand. We will not decide how and where we would like to be cut; we decide not to be cut.
Dear ✖✖✖,

I recognize that it is difficult to keep having these conversations over email and appreciate the professional nature of our exchange.

As outlined in ✖✖✖’s email on March 4th, the Chancellor agreed to a meeting with “students participating in the ledge sit-in on Wheeler Hall on March 3, 2011” to discuss Operational Excellence. As I have stated before, the Chancellor has asked that the numbers be kept to four students and one worker in order to facilitate a thoughtful conversation. Upon review of your submitted participant list, there is only one student (✖✖✖) from the list who was on the ledge. Please send me the names of four currently enrolled UC Berkeley students from the original list of nine individuals who would attend Friday’s meeting:

[names redacted]

Furthermore, please send me the name of one worker from your submitted list:

[names redacted]

I omitted ✖✖✖ from your original list due to his status as lecturer and not as a staff worker.

I do not want to presume that you are aware of the notices circulating that Friday’s meeting with the Chancellor is a negotiation and additional protests outside California Hall are being planned during the time of the meeting. The Chancellor is interested in having a serious exchange of ideas through thoughtful dialogue and not a negotiation. Presenting demands will not be a fruitful use of time or aligned with the original spirit of this meeting. Furthermore, the Chancellor is concerned this meeting is being utilized as a catalyst for a public rally. He is prepared to postpone the meeting should it escalate as such and/or create disturbances for academic classes, students studying in nearby buildings, or staff working nearby.

We welcome a serious exchange of ideas regarding OE and to support that goal, it would be great if the attendees could take a few moments to review the OE website prior to the meeting ( We are open to receiving any questions or thoughts you may have that you would like to share in advance of the meeting in order to maximize our meeting time in addressing your concerns.

We cannot agree to your request to record the meeting. Note-taking responsibilities, as with other meetings with students, have been a collaborative process. Typically, an administrator and a student representative take notes and these notes are compared and agreed upon with the entire group before distribution when necessary. As a matter of respect for all attendees, no tweets, texts, or recordings during the meeting are permitted. I trust you and the others will honor this request.

The meeting will begin promptly at 3:30pm so please arrive at Cal Hall by 3:15pm and I will escort the group to the meeting room. As a reminder, the meeting will also conclude promptly at 5:30pm in order for the Chancellor to attend a separate event welcoming parents and students shortly thereafter.

Please remind the attendees to bring a photo ID. I would appreciate receiving the attendee names no later than 5:00pm on Thursday April 7, 2011. I look forward to seeing everyone on Friday.


Felicia J. Lee, Ph.D.
Chief of Staff
Division of Student Affairs
University of California, Berkeley
130 California Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
510.642-6757 (office)
In light of this bullshit, we recommend our post on "No negotiation, occupation!"

1 comment:

  1. (The author who has 35 years’ consulting experience, has taught at University of California Berkeley, where he was able to observe the culture & the way senior management work)

    Cal. Chancellor’s gross over spending, inept decisions: recruits (using California tax $) out of state $50,000 tuition students that displace qualified Californians; spends $7,000,000 for consultants to do his & many vice chancellors jobs (prominent East Coast university accomplishing same at 0 cost); pays ex Michigan governor $300,000 for lectures; Latino enrollment drops while out of state jumps 2010; tuition to Return on Investment (ROI) drops below top 10; NCAA places basketball program on probation.

    Chancellor Birgeneau’s ($500,000 salary) fiscal track record is dismal indeed. He would like to blame the politicians, since they stopped giving him every dollar asked for, & the state legislators do share some responsibility for the financial crisis. But not in the sense he means.

    A competent chancellor would have been on top of identifying inefficiencies & then crafting a plan to fix them. Able oversight by the UC Board of Regents and the legislature would have required him to provide data on inefficiencies and on what steps he was taking to solve them during his 8 year reign. Instead, every year Birgeneau would request a budget increase, the timid regents would agree to it, and the legislature would provide. The hard questions were avoided by all concerned, & the problems just piled up to $150 million of inefficiencies….until there was no money left.

    It’s not that Birgeneau was unaware that there were, in fact, waste & inefficiencies during his 8 year reign. Faculty & staff raised issues with Birgeneau & Breslauer ($400,000 salary), but when they failed to see relevant action taken, they stopped. Finally, Birgeneau engaged some expensive ($7,000,000) consultants to tell him & the Provost what they should have known as leaders or been able to find out from the bright, engaged people. (Prominent east-coast University accomplishing same at 0 costs)

    Cal. and Californians have been badly damaged by Chancellor Birgeneau. Good people are loosing their jobs. Cal’s leadership is either incompetent or culpable. Merely cutting out inefficiencies does not have the effect desired. But you never want a crisis to go to waste.

    Increasing Cal’s budget is not enough; we believe the best course of action for University of California is to honorably retire Cal Chancellor Birgeneau ($500,000 salary)