Top moments in 2015 news

BHS_Protests_Kore_Chan copy
Kore Chan/File

UC Regents decisions, attention cast on campus instructors and ongoing review of city policies were some of the top headlines that made it into our papers this year. Compiled by the Daily Cal’s news editors, these were the year’s most notable events in city and campus news.

Kore Chan/File

Kore Chan/File

May 14: Brown, Napolitano reach agreement to avert some tuition increases

Rocky tensions between the state and the university over funding peaked in November 2014 when the UC Board of Regents — the governing body of the UC system — approved a contentious tuition hike. After months of back and forth between Gov. Jerry Brown and UC President Janet Napolitano, who formed a “committee of two” — consisting of themselves — to hash out a solution, an agreed-upon funding framework was finally announced in May. The agreement averted immediate tuition hikes for in-state students — in-state tuition will see modest increases linked to inflation after next year. Out-of-state students, however, will see increases of up to 8 percent annually.

— Suhauna Hussain

June 16: Balcony collapse sparks concern over building, inspection regulation

The death of six people and injury of seven people in June due to a balcony collapse sparked concerns over building and inspection regulations, the aftereffects rippling across the Bay Area and Ireland. Of the victims, one was an American student and 12 were Irish citizens, many of whom came to the United States with J-1 student visas. Built with a timber structure, experts identified dry rot — the product of excessive water in wood — as the cause of the collapse. After the collapse, Berkeley City Council unanimously adopted amendments to local and state housing codes that would require inspections of weather-exposed structures every three years, among other stipulations.

— Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks

July 22: UC minimum wage will rise to $15 in 2017

At its July regents meeting, the UC Board of Regents announced the adoption of a new plan to gradually raise minimum wage to $15 by 2017. As part of the plan, minimum wage was increased to $13 an hour in October and will additionally increase by $1 in each of the two consecutive years. The new working wage will apply to all UC employees who work at least 20 hours a week. In addition, the university pledged to ensure that all UC contract workers receive the UC minimum wage as well, and it will establish a hotline and online complaint system. The new plan makes the University of California the first public university in the United States to voluntarily establish a minimum wage of $15 and surpasses the city’s minimum wage, which is currently at $11 an hour.

— Ivana Saric

Sierra Brown/File

Sierra Brown/File

Oct. 11: Math lecturer Alexander Coward alleges wrongdoings in math department

Math lecturer Alexander Coward — most known for a viral email he sent in 2013, in which he explained why he would not be canceling class during a graduate student instructor strike — gained renewed attention in October when he announced in a post shared on Facebook that he might be terminated from UC Berkeley in 2016. In the post, titled “Blowing the Whistle on the UC Berkeley Mathematics Department,” Coward outlined a series of allegations of wrongdoing in the mathematics department. The post itself went viral, with thousands of students sharing the news on social media. Coward has filed a grievance with the campus over the matter, but because of the privacy of personnel issues, no public decision on his termination has been announced.

— Katy Abbott

Oct. 15: Campus professor of astronomy Geoffrey Marcy resigns amid allegations of sexual harrassments

In early October, campus astronomy professor Geoffrey Marcy resigned amid allegations of sexually harassing students for several years after the publication of a Buzzfeed News article that first broke the story. In June, a six-month investigation by UC Berkeley’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination formally implicated Marcy in a breach of campus sexual harassment policies after allegations arose that he had groped students, kissed them and touched or massaged them. The astronomy department undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students all released statements condemning Marcy’s actions, with the news sparking concerns about the prevalence of sexual harassment in STEM fields.

— Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks

Sierra Brown/File

Sierra Brown/File

Oct. 29: Eshleman Hall reopens doors to community members, UC Berkeley students

After years of construction and limited access to Lower Sproul Plaza, Eshleman Hall opened its doors to students and community members Oct. 30. The 10-year, $225 million construction project — part of an ongoing redevelopment effort in Lower Sproul — was funded in part by a recurring student fee since 2010. The original building, in place since 1963, was demolished in 2013 after lagging behind in earthquake standards. Campus officials emphasized a shared vision between students and administration for the new building, which now features space for more than 50 student organizations, ASUC and Graduate Assembly offices and a 24-hour study lounge.

— Alex Barreira

Kore Chan/File

Kore Chan/File

Nov. 5: Berkeley high schools students stage walkout in response to discovery of hostile images

Berkeley High School students staged a walkout and march throughout the city in response to racist images found on a school library computer, an incident that Sam Pasarow, Berkeley High principal, called a “hate crime.” Nearly 1,000 Berkeley High students flooded city streets and walked onto the UC Berkeley campus, calling on campus students to join the march. Protesters voiced their support for the Black Lives Matter movement, chanting, “We have nothing to lose but our chains.” In addition, a  “take back the day” event was also held Dec. 9 in order to further educate students on the importance of equality.

— Adrienne Shih

Nov. 19: Regents approve to add 10,000 students, $1 billion expansion of UC Merced

At its November meeting, the UC Board of Regents approved a plan that will add 10,000 in-state students into the UC system over the next three years. The plan was packaged as part of the 2016-17 budget and falls in line with the funding framework decided by the state and the university in May, which requires that the university grow enrollment by 5000 in-state students by next year in order to receive extra funding. The plan accounts for this growth of 5,000 students by next year and also allows for increases of 2,500 students in each of two consecutive years.    

— Suhauna Hussain

Ethan Epstein/File

Ethan Epstein/File

Nov. 22: Fire burns through apartment complex at Telegraph Avenue, Dwight Way, causing estimated $1 million in damages

A two-alarm fire ravaged the Chandler Apartment complex at the corner of Telegraph Avenue and Dwight Way, causing tenants and local businesses to evacuate. The incident occurred in a business-dense area, with restaurants such as Peet’s Coffee & Tea and Moe’s Books neighboring the site. The fire started at the top floor of the complex, causing both smoke and water damage to the entire building. Damage was evaluated to be approximately $1 million, according to Avery Webb, deputy chief of the Berkeley Fire Department. The same night, another two-alarm fire occurred in West Berkeley, with BFD using all resources to quell both incidents.

— Adrienne Shih

Dec. 8City Council approves 18-story construction to be located on Harold Way

After more than 30 public hearings and nearly three years of deliberation between city entities, community members and developers, a controversial 18-story building was approved by the City Council in December. The 2211 Harold Way development — which is set to be one of the tallest buildings in Berkeley — was first approved by the Zoning Adjustment Board in October. Appeals were then filed by Berkeley residents, the developers and the Berkeley Unified School District. During public comment, many voiced concerns over the demolition of portions of the landmarked Shattuck Hotel and forced relocation of Habitot Children’s Museum, while others noted that the project is a necessary addition in the face of Berkeley’s housing shortage.

— Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks

Rachael Garner/File

Rachael Garner/File

Dec. 15: Police Review Commission report on December 2014 protests to go before City Council

The city’s Police Review Commission will present its report of the 2014 December Black Lives Matter protests to the Berkeley City Council at the council’s Dec. 15 meeting. The council referred the commission to draft the report as a response to the use of less-than-lethal weapons — including tear gas, batons and projectiles — as methods of crowd control during the protests. In the report, the commission called on the Berkeley Police Department to enforce stricter policies regarding such policies and to revise the department’s policies regarding protests.

— Adrienne Shih

Tags No tags yet