UC regents to hear demands for Norman Pattiz’s removal; vote on 2018-19 tuition hikes tabled

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At the UC Board of Regents meeting this week, the regents will hear demands from students at various UC campuses for Regent Norman Pattiz’s removal and vote on submitting a bid for the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

A year ago, a recording surfaced of Pattiz asking to hold television writer and colleague Heather McDonald’s breasts, sparking outrage in the midst of the university’s ongoing efforts to address sexual harassment cases systemwide. Despite the backlash, Pattiz has retained his seat on the board.

UC Berkeley sophomore Varsha Sarveshwar, an organizer of the planned demonstration at the board meeting, said she believes this week’s meeting is a good time to directly discuss the issue with the regents, given the rise in national conversation surrounding sexual harassment.

“It is really important that university leaders take a stand, not a stance, on these issues by taking disciplinary action against Regent Pattiz, specifically by dismissing him from the board,” Sarveshwar said.

Sarveshwar said about 30 students from UC Berkeley will be present at the board’s open session Nov. 15, adding that the group will likely be joined by students from UCLA and UC Santa Barbara.

Student regent Paul Monge said it is “immensely helpful” to have consistent student pressure on the board until action is taken. He added that because the board did not have a set process for disciplining regents when the recording of Pattiz surfaced, the appropriate disciplinary measures were not retroactively applied to Pattiz.

A vote on the preliminary 2018-19 UC budget, which includes a potential 2.5 percent systemwide tuition increase, was originally expected to happen at the November board meeting but has been deferred to January because of ongoing negotiations with state legislature to finalize the budget, according to Monge.

Perhaps best known as the home of the atomic bomb, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, or LANL, is seeking new management in preparation for its current contract’s expiration in 2018. The University of California has been involved with LANL since the 1940s and has participated in the lab’s management and operation since 2006, according to the agenda item to approve a management bid submission.

According to UC spokesperson Stephanie Beechemthe UC is bidding to enter a five-year contract, with potential to increase the contract by an additional five years. If the UC wins the bid, the U.S. Department of Energy will pay the university about $2 billion per year to manage LANL.

“We’re in a good position to potentially win (the bid) based off of our history with the laboratory,” Monge said, adding, however, that nothing is guaranteed.

The board will also discuss revisions to UC regents emeritus policy, which dictates criteria for bestowing emerita and emeritus status on former UC regents, senior leadership and staff. According to the agenda item, the current process is “conflicting” and “ambiguous.”

Recommended clarifications to current policy include requiring that candidates have served for at least five years in the position for which the title is being conferred, potentially disqualifying candidates for serious breaches of policy and potentially rescinding the emeritus title if there are issues that might impact the university’s reputation.

The board will convene Nov. 14-16 at UCSF Mission Bay.

Revati Thatte is the lead higher education reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @revati_thatte.