SDFA opposes the unilateral eviction of the Che Cafe

October 7, 2014

Chancellor Pradeep Khosla
Cc: VC Gary Matthews
VC Alan Houston
Associate VC Gary Ratcliff
UCEN Director Sharon Van Bruggen
Associated Students President
Graduate Student Association President

Dear Chancellor Khosla:

It has come to our attention that a trial is underway to evict the Che Café from its current location on campus; and that this decision was allegedly made without any prior notice or consultation of the Che Café on the part of the UCSD administration, faculty, or student-governing bodies. As UCSD faculty we are gravely concerned about this alleged development; which, if true, contradicts the policies and best practices of the university vis-à-vis the organizations, programs, and communities that provide UCSD with a living tradition and vibrant hub of student intellectual activity and growth.

The SDFA board opposes any unilateral decision to evict the Che Café; moreover, we advocate that that the university reopens negotiations with the Che Café regarding their residence at their current location on campus. We would like to solicit your response to this matter, with the expectation that our reasonable request for reopened negotiations between the administration and the Che Café is met.

As you must know, the Che Café has been a student-owned and managed cooperative with a 501©3 nonprofit organization status for the past 34 years. Several generations of UCSD alumni know this place as an all-ages venue that has welcomed internationally recognized underground and college-radio musicians and performers. On the level of popular culture, this is no small achievement. But it is on the level of student life that the Che Café’s reputation as a living satellite of college radio and world music makes itself felt. For it provides students with a safe, non-institutional space where they may creatively experience and critically reflect on the emerging influences in their lives – political, economic, social, and above all cultural – in a way and on a level that no classroom, professor, or lab can match. It is places like the Che Café – to reiterate, a student-run, 501©3 nonprofit organization and cooperative – that give the otherwise ambiguous category of “student life” substance. The Che Café also gives UCSD a sense of tradition, rootedness, and collective collaboration, which extends beyond student life and establishes ties with the cultural scenes and communities that traverse San Diego, California, and the United States.

We look forward to your speedy response.

Many thanks. Sincerely yours,

John D. Blanco, board member
Adam Burgasser, board member
Thandeka Chapman, board member
Robert Horwitz, board member
Tara Knight, board member
Jin Kyung-Lee, board member

The San Diego Faculty Association (SDFA)

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Online learning push continues in California, but with approach faculty groups appreciate

Less Prescriptive in California

Gov. Jerry Brown and State Sen. Darrell Steinberg, the Senate’s president, this year included a $50 million fund for “innovation” in the state’s budget. This has led to the development of a new awards program, one that will attract ideas for how to increase degree production significantly, allow more students to earn bachelor’s degrees within four years, and ease transfer through the state’s three public higher education systems.

Read full article [here]
by Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed

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UC Faculty Petition UC Administration To Negotiate in Good Faith with Student-Worker TA Union

The Santa Cruz Faculty Association (the SCFA, a sister chapter of the San Diego Faculty Association) invite ALL faculty — both Academic Senate members and AFT members — at ALL UC campuses to sign the petition at

Here is the SCFA’s letter introducing the petition:

Dear Colleagues,

For many of us, our teaching assistants are central to our pedagogy. They work the most closely with our students, and are most closely involved with our students’ individual progress. Our universities depend on them in many ways. As you all know, despite a series of system-wide labor actions and nearly a year of negotiating, our teaching assistants remain without a contract.

The SCFA is sponsoring a petition, to be delivered to President Napolitano, to demonstrate system-wide faculty support for a speedy resolution to teaching assistant contract negotiations. We believe that a strong showing by faculty system-wide can help make the case to the central administration that better working conditions for teaching assistants is not simply a matter between teaching assistants and the administration, but is a pressing concern for all UC faculty.

We invite ALL faculty — both Academic Senate members and AFT members — at ALL campuses to sign the petition, forward the link widely, and encourage your colleagues to sign as well.

For more information on TA labor activities and demands, please consult the TA union website at

To sign the petition please go to the petition page at:

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UC Faculty in Support of Graduate Students

Dear SDFA colleagues:

At the end of September, the current 3 year-contract of UAW 2865 representing UC Academic Student Employees (GSIs, readers and tutors) expired and ASEs are now working without a contract. UCOP Labor Relations and UAW 2865 have not yet reached an official “impasse.” But the Berkeley Faculty Association is concerned that UCOP’s last offer of a 2% rise doesn’t come close to eliminating the gap with our comparator institutions, based on a 2010 UCOP survey.  Currently the 10-month (49.5%) GSI stipend is $17,655 for an incoming student, though our campus financial aid office estimates that $21,608 is required to cover the cost of living for 9 months while the campus desired target for doctoral students is $26,000. The Report of the Taskforce on Competitiveness in Academic Graduate Student Support, adopted by UC Academic Council in June 2012, declared “rising tuition and uncompetitive stipends threaten to seriously undermine program quality” and asks that additional resources be allocated for net stipends for academic doctoral support.  On the discussion agenda of the Regents meeting this week, a report from the Committee on Educational Policy restates the situation: “It has become more difficult for UC departments and faculty to offer competitive financial support for their doctoral students.

In letters sent up to UCOP on September 16 and October 3, 33 Department Chairs at Berkeley and 21 Chairs at San Diego asked the University to raise the GSI base wage so as to enable our PhD programs to stay competitive, citing the unsustainable practice of having to top up students’ support from scarce and unpredictable resources.

Please lend your voice as a UC faculty member by signing this petition, which will be sent to Director of UCOP Labor Relations Peter Chester.

Board of the SDFA

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Open Letter to UC on the Nomination of Napolitano as President of UC

The Board of the San Diego Faculty Association (SDFA) is concerned about the nomination of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as President of the University of California, as well as with the secretive manner in which the Regents of UC arrived at the nomination. Regrettably, the Regents have instructed Secretary Napolitano not to comment on her nomination until her appointment is confirmed.

In light of this secrecy, the Board urges the Regents to extend the period for consideration before voting to confirm the nomination. This would give UC faculty more time to digest a nomination that has been met with widespread surprise and unease across the various campuses.

As was true of all the other candidates considered, Napolitano’s candidacy was shrouded in secrecy and effectively precluded the meaningful participation of UC faculty. We are reliably informed that at least three candidates for the position—Janet Napolitano, Colin Powell and Leon Panetta—derived from very similar administrative positions that involve the military, security, secretiveness and programs that have been criticized for impinging on or violating the civil rights of American citizens. If so, then the Regents’ apparent predilection for a President with technocratic experience that has been gained in a highly secretive demimonde is unsettling. It does a disservice to the transparency of information and free exchange of ideas that guides UC and diminishes the principle of joint governance that has sustained the University for so long.

We note that the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) strongly recommends against secretive selection processes. According to AAUP’s “1966 Statement on Government”: “The selection of a chief administrative officer should follow upon a cooperative search by the governing board and the faculty, taking into consideration the opinions of others who are appropriately interested.” AAUP’s 1981 statement on “Faculty Participation in the Selection, Evaluation, and Retention of Administrators” is even more trenchant: here, AAUP “emphasizes the primary role of faculty and board in the search for a president.”

Many faculty are troubled by the fact that Secretary Napolitano has only slight professional experience in higher education. These colleagues therefore raise important concerns about her nomination in an epoch when public universities are battling an array of corrosive and disabling challenge. On the other hand, other faculty note that the absence of a lengthy background in higher education has not always prevented nominees from serving as good and able stewards at major universities. At our own UC, Charles Hitch was recruited from the Department of Defense to serve as UC President from 1968\75. Hitch navigated this turbulent period with diplomatic skill, fending off attacks from a hostile Governor and Legislature and virtual rebellion from students, gradually winning the support of undecided faculty. It is therefore not inconceivable that Secretary Napolitano might acquit herself well as President of UC.

However, there is widespread concern amongst faculty that Secretary Napolitano’s particular background raises distinctively different problems that might undermine her tenure as President of UC. If her nomination were confirmed, Secretary Napolitano would come to UC with experience and skills acquired in the overlapping domains of security, surveillance, intelligence, immigration and border control, and the growing involvement of corporate interests in all of these. For many faculty and students, expertise acquired in secretive, often furtive, bureaucratic sectors is not propitious for the successful management of a sometimes fractious public institution of higher education. They fear that UC would be systematically linked to, or even incorporated into domains that, by definition, are inhospitable to unrestricted intellectual inquiry and creativity. Legitimate concerns therefore arise about how the Secretary would respond to issues that are bothersome to bureaucrats, but the life\blood of a vibrant academic institution.

Faculty rightly ask how Secretary Napolitano would respond to expressions of dissent both on and off campus; the balance between free and hate speech; or demands for her to protect the intellectual property rights of faculty. Given the role she played in securing more deportations of undocumented immigrants compared to all previous administrations combined, faculty want to know her views on matters such as Proposition 209 and if her support for the Dream Act is unequivocal. They want to know her views on faculty insistence on greater financial and administrative transparency; whether she approves of calls to expose UC’s dealings with the military; and whether she would adopt the Master Plan as her yardstick. As an index of the unusual anxieties her nomination has raised, many even want to know if she would channel UC’s resources into research on weapons of mass detruction, cyber\warfare, and surveillance. These concerns are neither fanciful nor inappropriate. As Secretary, Napolitano authorized contentious federal policies that have raised alarm about privacy rights across the political spectrum. Under her watch, for example, federal officials have been able to confiscate and search through travelers’ computers without a warrant.

Secretary Napolitano’s unusual background also makes her nomination unusual for the UC community. The Board of the SDFA therefore calls on the Regents to extend the period in which faculty and students may comment on the Secretary’s nomination.

Board of the SDFA

15 July 2013

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