Over the summer, it’s easy to become disconnected from the Berkeley community and lose track of the goings-on in the city and on campus. Here is a brief overview of some key developments from the past few months.
Dirks under scrutiny
UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks came under scrutiny this summer when a university investigation looking into his conduct came to light. The university is investigating his alleged improper use of public funds for travel as well as campus sports facilities and services without payment. He additionally received criticism in July for the construction of an emergency exit near his office suite as a safety precaution against potential protesters.
Then, last week, he announced his intent to resign as soon as his successor is chosen. Dirks is the second UC chancellor to resign this year, after UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi. In response to the criticism Katehi received in recent months, the UC Board of Regents approved a policy earlier this summer tightening restrictions on senior administrators’ outside professional activities to minimize potential conflicts of interest.
Controversial cancellation of non-payment policy
The campus announced a new controversial policy in July that requires undergraduate students to pay 20 percent of their tuition before Aug. 19 — 26 days earlier than payments were previously required — or they would be dropped from their classes. Administrators say the policy aims to decrease the number of students enrolling in classes that end up later withdrawing their enrollment from the school. After the policy received widespread criticism from the student body, the ASUC negotiated an extension of the deadline to Aug. 30.
Student deaths abroad
In the span of two weeks, the campus was hit twice with news of students who died in terrorist attacks abroad. Campus sophomore Tarishi Jain, who was in Dhaka, Bangladesh, completing an internship, was killed by gunmen who stormed the cafe where she was having dinner with friends July 1. Thirteen days later, campus junior Nick Leslie was killed in a terrorist attack that took place July 14 in Nice, France, during which three other UC Berkeley students sustained serious injuries. In the wake of the tragedies, the campus community gathered on Sproul Plaza for vigils to honor Jain and Leslie.
California residents flocked to the polls to cast their ballots in primary elections June 7. Record highs in voter registration preceded the elections, with 17,915,053 Californians — or about 72 percent of citizens eligible to vote in the state — registered by the May 23 deadline. Hillary Clinton won California and clinched the nomination for the Democratic party. Two Democrats — Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez — advanced in the U.S. Senate race for the state’s first open seat in almost a quarter of a century, while Nancy Skinner and Sandre Swanson advanced to the general elections for the state Senate District 9, which includes Alameda County.
Judge dismisses 2 Title IX cases
A federal judge dismissed two Title IX lawsuits brought against UC Berkeley alleging campus administration had not adequately responded to two instances of sexual assault. U.S. District Judge William Orrick dismissed it with leave to amend, meaning the plaintiffs — campus alumnae Sofie Karasek and Nicoletta Commins — are allowed to file an amended complaint for reconsideration, which they plan to do. In the ruling, Orrick said the campus had “bungled its response,” but he decided that its mistakes did not reach the legal definition of deliberate indifference.