Catching up with Berkeley

A review of the major Berkeley summer news

Alvin Wu/File

Minimum wage to reach $15

The minimum wage for UC employees who work at least 20 hours per week will increase to $15 in 2017 after increasing to $13 by October and to $14 in 2016.

The new policy, announced by UC President Janet Napolitano at a UC Board of Regents meeting in July, has drawn criticism for excluding employees who work less than 20 hours per week and for not doing enough to make the benefits and pay of contract workers on par with those of union employees. The new minimum wage does apply to contract workers, and Napolitano also said the university would carry out annual audits of contractors.


Kevin Cheung/File

A new vice chancellor for equity and inclusion

Na’ilah Nasir, a campus professor in the Graduate School of Education and the department of African American studies, is set to begin her term as vice chancellor for equity and inclusion in November. Nasir will be the second person to hold the position, first filled in 2007 by Gibor Basri, who is stepping down to serve as acting chair of the astronomy department.

Basri’s accomplishments in the position include helping lead a strategic plan for improving campus climate and access — among other equity, inclusion and diversity goals — and helping create the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society.


Kore Chan/Senior Staff

Balcony tragedy spurs construction changes

Starting over the summer, those who build in Berkeley face higher standards for certain types of construction, including new requirements that builders hire an inspector every three years and that all balconies be inspected by the beginning of next year. Berkeley City Council passed the new policies after a balcony with dry rot collapsed in June, killing six people and injuring seven.

Those who died in the tragedy were California resident Ashley Donohoe, 22, and Irish students Olivia Burke, Eoghan Culligan, Niccolai Schuster, Lorcan Miller and Eimear Walsh, who were all 21. The county of Alameda is leading a criminal investigation into the collapse.

City manager position in limbo

After three years of being city manager and 15 years of working in Berkeley, city manager Christine Daniel left her position in July to serve as an assistant city administrator in Oakland. Her interim replacement is Dee Williams-Ridley, who previously served as the deputy city manager.

Berkeley fire chief Gil Dong now holds the interim deputy city manager position, and deputy fire chief Avery Webb is interim fire chief.

Sexual assault survivors sue campus

Three women who were sexually assaulted while UC Berkeley students filed a lawsuit in June against the campus. Filed by Sofie Karasek, Aryle Butler and Nicoletta Commins, the lawsuit alleges that the campus failed to properly educate students on issues of sexual assault and perpetrated  gender-based discrimination in its handling of sexual assault cases.

The campus is already the subject of a federal investigation into whether it is following the requirements of Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded programs. The lawsuit comes about a year after the release of a California auditor’s report that found UC Berkeley “must do more” in its efforts to respond to sexual assault. Current efforts include enforcing mandatory sexual assault prevention training for new students and creating a confidential advocate position to assist survivors.

Alvin Wu/File

Alvin Wu/File

Harold Way project generates debate

After lengthy discussion and debate spanning several months, Berkeley City Council passed a resolution July 14 that will guide the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board in determining community benefits to be collected from the developers of high-rises planned for the Downtown Berkeley area.

The plan, which was first proposed in June, requires developers to provide community benefits through one of two options: paying a fixed per-square-footage fee determined by third-party consultants or providing specific benefits, such as agreements to hire local labor and affordable units.

The resolution, however, has faced some community backlash for its exemption of the 2211 Harold Way project, for which the developers will pay only a flat square-footage fee. The Zoning Adjustments Board approved the environmental impact report for the project at a June 25 meeting and is slated to hold a hearing for the project in the near future.

Benjamin Shenouda/File

Benjamin Shenouda/File

GBC stops serving chicken tenders

Students can no longer pick up chicken tenders at the Golden Bear Cafe on their way to class because of a menu overhaul that Cal Dining implemented at the end of the spring semester.

Shawn LaPean, executive director of Cal Dining, said in July that the new menus will better reflect the campus and its food and wellness programs. Pat Brown’s and GBC have been undergoing the process of changing menus for more than a year and a half, according to LaPean.

Instead of fried chicken, the cafe will now serve burritos. New sandwich and salad options will also be available.

Jamin Kim-Sanders/Staff

Jamin Kim-Sanders/Staff

Agreement reached on state budget

The state budget, finalized in June, provides $119.5 million in general funding to the University of California and up to $25 million in additional funding that depends on the enrollment of more in-state students. The budget also includes $96 million and $25 million in one-time funds for UC pensions and deferred maintenance, respectively.

Agreement on these funding levels came out of months of talks between UC President Janet Napolitano and Gov. Jerry Brown after the UC Board of Regents passed in November a plan that would have raised UC tuition by up to 5 percent annually. Under the new agreement, tuition will remain flat for in-state residents for the next couple of years, although out-of-state tuition could rise by up to 8 percent annually.

Contact Amy Jiang and Melissa Wen at [email protected].