Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Open Letter to President Yudof on UC Logo Fiasco

December 15, 2012

Mark Yudof, President
University of California Office of the President
1111 Franklin Street, 12th Floor
Oakland, CA 94607

Dear President Yudof:

The enormous public backlash to the UC logo change evidences a major problem at your office. Open communication between the Office of the President and your faculty, students, and alumni is being ignored. Whether this was intentional for this rebranding project or an oversight, it is unacceptable.

I write you as a senior professor of Art at UCSB, where I have taught since 1992. I have also taught at UC Berkeley, and have served as a visiting assistant at the Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and San Diego campuses. I attended UCLA and received my BA and MFA degrees from UC San Diego. In short, I am both intimately familiar with and acutely invested in the University of California.

How an in-house design team can operate for three+ years rebranding the university's visual identity without the university's own Art faculty knowing is beyond me. Our campuses boast internationally renowned experts in the visual arts, design, and criticism. We educate scores of cutting edge MFA candidates each year. My top undergraduate art students are the best in the country. Why were none of us consulted? In this time of budget cuts and clustering, why weren't our own resources tapped? What happened to the UC's esteemed history of self-governance and openness? And who, exactly, oversaw these decisions? My colleagues and I are dumbfounded.

My problem is actually less with the final campaign logo and video (which I find vapid and derivative), and more with the way this entire process came to light. The UC sits at a critical crossroads in the public eye and can no longer rely on our historical reputation and prestige to see us through. Yes, the California electorate passed Prop 30, but debate continues on tuition hikes, state pensions, administrative accountability, and the role of state funds in higher education. I know firsthand how important state support is and how valuable and life-changing a UC education can be. We need to present these stories to the public, not get entangled in critical and emotionally charged mistakes like this. I urge you to immediately implement a more open dialogue between your office and UC faculty, students, and alumni. I ask you to implement the type of communication that would have steered this rebranding program from the beginning.

On a related note, I was not previously familiar with any members of this UCOP in-house design team, but I am appalled by the public immaturity and lack of professionalism being tweeted by the Creative Director. Again, I ask -- who hired these people and oversaw these decisions?


Kip Fulbeck

Monday, December 17, 2012

Progressive Labor Party Defends Rapists

reposted from Necessary Means:

In 2006 Progressive Labor Party member Seth Miller raped an anarchist activist who had been his close friend and a fellow organizer for many years in the Los Angeles area. The activist found no recourse in the legal system but hoped that PLP leadership would intervene and do something to hold Seth accountable for being a rapist. The party leadership did nothing despite the activist reaching out multiple times.

Early in 2012 the activist found renewed support for holding Seth accountable after learning that he had recently been part of some organizing spaces with the activist’s allies. The activist, along with a small collective of allies, approached PLP again in May 2012 to remind them of the rape and demand a process of accountability. After several weeks and a meeting between the activist, her allies, and a member of PLP leadership, the party seemed to acknowledge it was harboring a rapist but refused to act unless the activist provided “conclusive evidence” that Seth had raped her. Instead, the party leadership engaged in victim-blaming and insinuated that the activist was merely feeling guilty about consensual sex. While party leadership agreed to take up the issue, they opposed any process that didn't conform to their terms and obstructed progress on holding Seth accountable by canceling meetings at the last minute and issuing unreasonable expectations for rescheduling.

It is now several months after those initial conversations with PLP’s new leadership, and Seth remains an operating member of PLP, though he is now based in New York City. Recently the activist found through her own investigation that the party held a secret meeting in New York in July or August during which they agreed that while there was no “conclusive evidence” to their standards proving that Seth is a rapist, they would require him to drink with a buddy from now on and write a self-criticism about his relationship to women and patriarchy. These so-called solutions do nothing to protect our communities from a known rapist.

PLP leadership has failed to acknowledge this meeting just as they have failed to protect our communities from this predator. The party has, however, asked that the activist and her allies stop spreading “gossip” about Seth because they see the activist’s rape as a private matter rather than a political matter.

PLP is incapable of promoting truly revolutionary politics because it refuses to acknowledge individual and systemic sexual violence. In response, we ask a few things of you. The first is to exclude PLP from all activism and organizing spaces. The second is to warn your allies of the fact that PLP is defending and harboring at least one known rapist. The third is to examine and address the patriarchal behavior throughout all of our activist communities that protects and promotes sexual violence. The fourth is to actively support and defend the many individuals in our community that have suffered sexual violence. Finally, we ask you to address these matters in the best way you see fit - you do not need our permission to act.