Ask the Daily Cal: Occupy Cal and the UC Board of Regents meeting

Occupy Cal protesters participate in Thursday evening's general assembly.
Anna Vignet/Senior Staff/File
Occupy Cal protesters participate in Thursday evening's general assembly.

On Monday, November 14th,  Editor in Chief Tomer Ovadia moderated a discussion with Daily Cal and readers relating to last week’s protests, Tuesday’s strike and the upcoming UC Regents meeting.

Click here to see previous and upcoming Ask the Daily Cal events. Share your thoughts with us by emailing [email protected].

Below is a transcript of the live chat.

Tomer OvadiaDaily Cal:: Hello everyone and welcome to our Ask the Daily Cal event on Occupy Cal and the now-cancelled UC Board of Regents meeting.

Tomer Ovadia: I’m the editor in chief and president of the Daily Cal and I will be moderating tonight’s discussion.

Tomer Ovadia: If at any time during this discussion you have a question for our panel, simply type it below and hit send.

Tomer Ovadia: I am joined by our team of three news reporters who will be answering your questions tonight. Let’s have them introduce themselves briefly now.

Amruta Trivedi, Daily Cal: I am Amruta Trivedi. I cover academics and administration.

Damian Ortellado, Daily Cal: My name is Damian Ortellado and I cover higher education.

Sarah Burns, Daily Cal: Hi there. My name is Sarah Burns and I cover crime.

Tomer Ovadia, DC: Great. To get us started, can you give us a brief summary of where we stand now with the demonstrations and the regents meeting?

Comment From Guest: Are you going to answer questions, or just introduce yourselves?

Tomer Ovadia, DC: We are indeed going to answer your questions. Please type them below when you’re ready.

Amruta Trivedi, DC: So after the police disbanded the Occupy Cal encampment on Thursday morning, the general assembly decided to not encamp again until tomorrow night, following the statewide strike tomorrow in response to recent and potential tuition increases and the decrease in state funding. At the strike tomorrow, there will be teach outs in the morning followed by a 2pm convergence on Sproul and a general assembly around 5pm.

Comment From Guest:  I have been really disappointed in the Daily Cal’s coverage of the protests. Like many others on campus, I feel that they have been heavily biased against the students and in favor of the administration. I would like to know whether the Daily Cal plans to address this issue and how.

Tomer Ovadia, DC: We have received many comments from readers expressing concern with our coverage of the Occupy Cal movement. I am very happy to see readers bringing their thoughts to our attention. We have had a healthy discussion among our staff regarding what we could have done differently and will be sure to keep all your thoughts in mind for our future coverage. I feel many of the concerns brought to our attention were fair, and we have learned from the experience.

Comment From cal alum: So, this is so fascinating to me… what were they so afraid of that they cancelled their meeting? A bunch of passive protesters? What a way to shut down first amendment rights. Has this ever happened before?

Comment From Guest: Amruta Trivedi’s article was particularly biased, and even included statements that were clear distortions of fact or outright misrepresentations.
Comment From Guest: Many people on campus feel that your coverage has been heavily biased in favor of the administration.

Comment From Guest: I disagree, I feel that it was more fair coverage compared to AP.

Comment From Guest: I feel the daily Cal has been pretty unbiased either way.

Damian Ortellado, DC: According to an announcement released today by Sherry Lansing, chair of the University of California Board of Regents, Vice Chair Bruce Varner and President Mark Yudof, the UC Board of Regents was warned by university law enforcement individuals that there was a “real danger of significant violence and vandalism” as a result of “rogue elements” intent on violence and confrontation with UC public safety officers at the peaceful protest.
They said they were concerned that the violence “could place at risk members of the public, students lawfully gathered to voice concerns over tuition levels and any other issues, the UCSF community, including patients, and public safety officers, UC staff and neighbors of UCSF Mission Bay.”
Because of this, they have said that they will reschedule their meeting for another time and, possibly, an alternate venue.
Regents’ meetings have been cancelled before, but never have they been cancelled under the threat of violence, according to UC spokesperson Steve Montiel.

Comment From Guest: How has the Occupy Cal group responded to the news that the regents meeting will be moved?

Amruta Trivedi, DC: Some activists had planned to travel to UCSF for the Regents meeting in an effort shut it down, so some view its cancellation as a victory. Others have said that they are disappointed that it was canceled because saying that the Regents will not be able to hear the concerns of the students, including the UC Student Regents and the UCSA.
UAW Local 2865 had originally chartered buses to the meeting on Wednesday, but has redirected them to the financial district in San Francisco.

Comment From Cal Student: Since most of the police using their batons were Alameda Sheriffs and not UCPD, if the campus finds excessive force was used, do they have any authority to do anything about it?

Sarah Burns, DC: UCPD has pledged to complete an internal operational review to determine whether the use of force was justified. The campus police review board will also conduct an investigation of the use of force. That board will be headed by UC Berkeley School of Law professor Jesse Choper, former dean of the school.

Read this article for more information: http://www.dailycal.org/2011/11/14/chancellor-promises-inquiry-into-police-use-of-force-amnesty-for-some-student-protesters/

Comment From @cnewf: what information do you have about the threats that caused the Regents to cancel their meeting-specifically about a subgroup that wanted to do violence to UCPD?

Comment From Guest:
What is the Daily Cal doing to investigate whether there really were legitimate threats of violence? That seems very suspect to me — a clear pretext for the regents to shut down free speech.

Comment From @cnewf: DC has no info on the cancellation other than the press release?

Damian Ortellado, DC: In interviews with the Daily Californian today, UC law enforcement and UC Board of Regents Chair Sherry Lansing have said that they will not release any additional information beyond what was included in the press release.

Comment From Student: What is the size of tomorrow’s protest expected to be? How about the media coverage?

Amruta Trivedi, DC: There is no way to know what the size will be, but a group from Occupy Oakland will be marching to the UC Berkeley campus. Last Wednesday, we saw the largest participation since the September 2009.

Amruta Trivedi, DC: To clarify, last Wednesday, we saw the largest participation since the September 2009 walkout.

Tomer Ovadia, DC: We’re having technical difficulties, so I’ll be pasting questions in and posting them. We apologize for the delay.

Tomer Ovadia: Guest says: why did daily cal have a story on the 1% and list from the salary database but not list the 1% regents but the sf chron today described as: “As the Occupy movement grows across California and UC, protesters had called for a massive demonstration at the Wednesday meeting, claiming that regents with ties to banking “are the 1 percent” responsible for astronomical fee hikes and budget cuts. At least five regents have such ties, they said: Monica Lozano serves on the board of Bank of America; Dick Blum is head of Blum Capital Partners; Leslie Tang Schilling is an adviser at the Union Square Investment Company; and Paul Wachter is CEO of Main Street Advisors.”

Damian Ortellado, DC: The metric we used to measure the 1 percent is based on income. The UC Regents do not receive income from their jobs as UC Regents. If you were to measure where the Regents would fall, you would have to measure their total personal wealth. One would way to do that would be tallying their declarations of financial interests on Form 700s but that would not provide an absolutely definitive answer. Please refer to the note at the bottom of the article for a clarification.

http://www.dailycal.org/2011/11/14/who-are-the-1-percent-at-uc/

Comment From @studentactivism: How many of the 40 arrested last week are covered by Birgeneau’s conduct code amnesty? How many have charges that would preclude the amnesty offer? And is it known whether the criminal charges are going forward?

Sarah Burns, DC: Birgeneau’s amnesty should cover “all Berkeley students who were arrested and cited solely for attempting to block the police in removing the Occupy Cal encampment on Wednesday, Nov. 9,” according to his letter.
As for the criminal charges, at present, some of the protesters do appear in the Alameda County Docket with scheduled hearings. Ultimately, the decision on whether to bring charges is at the discretion of the District Attorney.

Comment From Guest: did the regents vote on the cancellation? if so how did they vote? if they did not vote — is that in keeping with CA meeting laws, Brown Act, Sunshine laws?

Damian Ortellado, DC: No, the UC Board of Regents did not vote on the decision to postpone the meeting. The decision was made by Chair Sherry Lansing, Vice Chair Bruce Varner and President Mark Yudof. As for the legality of the decision — we are not sure and are currently looking into it.

Comment From @studentactivism: Sarah, my question was how many of the 40 arrested were Berkeley students arrested and cited solely for attempting to block the police.

Sarah Burns, DC: It is unclear whether there were 31 or 32 Berkeley students who were arrested because of a discrepancy between what UCPD has reported and what appears on their crime logs. One of those students was arrested on suspicion of battery on a police officer. It is unclear whether this student will be covered under the amnesty. Birgeneau does not have control over the legal charges, solely student conduct.

Comment From reclaim UC: What was Chancellor Birgeneau doing in Seoul, Tokyo, and Shanghai last week? His statement could not be more vague: “we successfully advanced some new partnerships that will benefit our campus.” What does that mean? Most importantly, why was he not able to access the internet?

Amruta Trivedi, DC: The Chancellor visited South Korea, where he delivered a keynote address at the Berkeley Seoul Cybersecurity Forum. He met with alumni in Japan and visited Shanghai to talk at a Biotech forum. Additionally, UC Berkeley is working on expanding into Shanghai. Read this article to find out more information http://bit.ly/sYMrb8

Comment From josh:  Did the regents decide to postpone the meeting – given the requirement that they be public, what are their options for rescheduling and given that this is the largest labor-student-community coalition California has seen in the last 50 years, why would they think some other day might be better?

Damian Ortellado, DC: Given the relatively unprecedented nature of the cancellation, it is unclear what the process is for rescheduling. From a reading of the Regents’ bylaws (http://universityofcalifornia.edu/regents/bylaws/bl14.html), it is not immediately clear what the exact procedure is for rescheduling. Chair Sherry Lansing has said that she will make it a priority to reschedule the meeting as soon as possible.

Read this for more: http://www.dailycal.org/2011/11/14/amid-threats-of-violence-uc-regents-cancel-meeting/

Comment From reclaim UC: Sorry, Amruta, you didn’t answer the last part of the question. Why was Birgeneau somehow unable to access the internet? He claims that he wasn’t able to view any Youtube videos until yesterday.

Comment From grad student: Given that the chancellor was not even in the country, and is claiming that he didn’t really know what happened last week, does the daily cal plan to investigate who was actually in charge that day (e.g., who was calling the shots in the administration)? I think this is a very important question that needs to be answered.

Amruta Trivedi, DC: To answer the last part of your question, we don’t know about Birgeneau’s access to the internet, what he was able to view on YouTube and what he knew about what has happening on campus.

To answer the second question, according to Birgeneau’s email, he said he was in contact with Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer during the day. However, we do not know exactly who was in charge, but we are in the process of submitting a public records request for correspondence and conversations that occurred regarding the Occupy Cal events.

Comment From guest: are the terms amnesty and pardons part of on the books procedure at UC or is this just terminology the administration has decided to use?

Sarah Burns, DC: Looking over the campus Code of Student Conduct, the terms “amnesty” and “pardon” do not appear in the current edition posted online. (http://students.berkeley.edu/uga/conduct.pdf) It appears that amnesty and pardons are not specifically addressed in the code.

Comment From Steve: What was the response of police regarding the “excessive force” that many argue was used last week?

Tomer Ovadia, DC: We’ll go for another 10 minutes. If you have a question you’d like us to answer, please post it below. Please be sure to include a question in your submission.

Sarah Burns, DC: When I spoke to UCPD Captain Bennett Saturday, she said she could not make a statement on whether the police use of force was justified until an internal operational review about the event is conducted. When I spoke to Lt. Yao after the protests, he said force was “the very last” option officers wanted to use. According to Birgenau’s letter, “a senior member of the command staff at one of our sister UC campuses” will conduct the review.

Comment From guest: are you interviewing any representatives from the UCPD union reps or the Sherriff Union reps to get their perspectives?

Sarah Burns, DC: While we have spoken to members of UCPD, I have not spoken to any union representatives of either UCPD or ACSO as of yet. I will look into it.

Comment From Guest: So whats next for he movement now that the Regents have cancelled their meeting ?

Amruta Trivedi, DC: The Occupy Cal general assembly has voted to continue with the “Open University” statewide strike tomorrow, as planned. The ASUC has also decided to redirect buses to Sacramento on Wednesday, instead of the now-canceled Regents meeting in San Francisco.

Comment From josh: Has the UCPD responded to the fact that other city police forces have refused reciprocity agreements? Is that an unusual move?

Sarah Burns, DC: I have not asked UCPD about the mutual aid agreement between the Berkeley Police Department and UCPD that the Berkeley City Council did not approve at its most recent meeting, but Inside Bay Area addressed that here: http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_19333928?IADID=Search-www.insidebayarea.com-www.insidebayarea.com.

To read more about mutual aid, see these articles:
http://www.dailycal.org/2011/11/08/berkeley-council-discuss-police-mutual-aid/
http://www.dailycal.org/2011/11/10/berkeley-city-council-approves-most-of-police-departments-mutual-aid-agreements/

Tomer Ovadia, DC: Thank you everybody for participating in Ask the Daily Cal. We’ll keep your questions in mind as we continue reporting on these ongoing issues. If you would like to submit your opinion for publishing, please send them to [email protected] If you have any comments regarding this event, please email [email protected]

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