We made it. 2014 isn’t a year The Daily Californian will be forgetting anytime soon. As the winter holiday approaches and many of us give Berkeley our (temporary) goodbyes, spring semester might feel like it happened a lifetime ago. So for those of us who have gotten swept up in the last few months’ current events, here’s a look back at the most memorable headlines of 2014 as compiled by The Daily Californian’s news editors.
UC President Janet Napolitano received a mixed reception during her visit to UC Berkeley, the final stop on her systemwide listening tour. Napolitano met with several ASUC officials and other campus community members who criticized her record on deportations as Homeland Security secretary and her lack of professional academic experience, among other issues. This meeting stood in stark contrast to her conversation with graduate students, who spent most of their time talking to her about a few key policy issues of concern to their community, later the same day. Her visit also spurred some protesters to occupy the Blum Center for Developing Economies.
Thirty-one current and former UC Berkeley students filed two federal complaints against the campus for allegedly mishandling sexual assault and harassment cases as part of the nationwide movement to prevent incidents of sexual assault on college campuses. Students, the ASUC, campus and university administration and government officials all took a number of steps of varying degrees to address sexual assault on college campuses throughout the year.
After a month of discussion, the Berkeley Student Cooperative Board of Directors and some of its members voted to convert one of the largest cooperative houses in the country, Cloyne Court, into a substance-free academic theme house and prohibit all but one of the house’s current and former members from living in the residence in the fall.
CalSERVE swept three out of the four partisan executive seats for the second year in a row in the 2014 ASUC election but failed to grab the presidency. The election drew a lower voter turnout than in the previous two years. In the fall, ASUC Academic Affairs Vice President Jeanette Corona resigned and was replaced by Mon-Shane Chou, also from CalSERVE.
After nearly two years of negotiations, university patient-care workers ratified a four-year contract. The union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, and the University of California agreed on a contract including wage increases, staffing protections and changes to health care and pension benefits. The agreement staved off a five-day strike that had been planned for that week. The student academic employees’ union later came to an agreement in early summer.
A state audit report, which reviewed how sexual violence and harassment are handled at UC Berkeley and three other California public higher education institutions, showed a lack of training for certain faculty and staff, inadequate prevention programs and insufficient communication with students who filed complaints with their various campuses. In the wake of the report, some survivors said the report’s recommendations and findings did not go far enough.
A Berkeley police officer and the union that represents her sued the city of Berkeley and its police oversight agency after a leak of confidential information about a high-profile death case. Berkeley Police Department Officer Gwendolyn Brown and the police union alleged invasions of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress, among other counts. The deceased, Kayla Moore, was a 347-pound black transgender woman with a history of mental illness who died while in police custody.
Berkeley voters passed two historic measures in the 2014 general election: the nation’s first soda tax and a new student district. Berkeley passed a 1-cent-per-ounce distribution tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, becoming the first city in the country to pass such a tax. The tax passed with about 76 percent of the vote, after the American Beverage Association poured more than $1 million into defeating the measure. Supporters of the tax also received big donations, including an $85,000 contribution from former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. A redistricting map that carved out a new student district — giving District 7 a population of 86 percent student-aged residents — passed with about 64 percent of the vote. The plan’s passage followed years of efforts to create a student supermajority district. Last December, City Council passed the map that was ultimately voted on in November. But students, residents and a minority of council members criticized the map’s student district for excluding Northside residence halls and student cooperatives. It was suspended through referendum and later was the subject of a lawsuit before going to voters.
In response to a recently passed UC Board of Regents policy that could increase tuition by 5 percent per year for the next five years, the Open UC, a group of students and activists, occupied Wheeler Hall for seven consecutive days. Protesters demanded a stop to fee hikes and the release of Jeff Noven, a UC Berkeley student arrested during a demonstration at the regents meeting. The exact amount of the tuition increases, however, depends on how much funding the state gives the university. This policy conflicts with Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan, which increases state funding for the university by 4 percent per year for the next two years, provided that tuition remains frozen. Several students and community members continued to occupy the hall in solidarity with the movement over Thanksgiving break.
Over several consecutive nights, hundreds of students and community members marched through the city in response to recent grand jury decisions to not indict police officers in the deaths of two unarmed black men, Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Police arrested more than 200 people after protesters halted freeway traffic and, at some points, used tear gas and rubber bullets on demonstrators. A few demonstrators engaged in destructive behavior, vandalizing and looting some Berkeley and Oakland businesses.
Compiled by Executive News Editor Melissa Wen, News Editor G. Haley Massara and Managing Editor Megan Messerly.