This Week in the News serves as the Quad’s space for reflection on current events at and around UCLA. Every week, Daily Bruin staffers will analyze some of the most significant stories to keep readers up to speed.
We’re coming into the final stretch of things here at UCLA. As midterm season winds down and winter break creeps up on us, the news cycle has done anything but slow down – from fires across California to Students for Justice in Palestine controversy and a lawsuit against the UC, here are the Quad’s picks for this week’s news.
The Woolsey Fire cast a pall over the week, and not just due to the smoke.
UCLA administrators enacted a ban on all outdoor activities on Sunday, on account of poor air quality due to the fire. Despite lifting the ban later that day, administrators advised all students remain indoors, and made masks available to students living on the Hill as an extra precaution. Additionally, the bonfire portion of the Beat ‘SC rally was canceled Thursday because of the ongoing fires in the state.
The fire, meanwhile, continued to rage, although firefighters were making progress on its containment. As of Wednesday evening, the Woolsey fire was 47 percent contained; however, the fire remains the largest one on record in LA county, with 57,000 homes in LA and Ventura county still threatened.
On Monday, President Trump approved Gov. Jerry Brown’s request to classify the wildfires as a major disaster, thus allowing additional federal aid.
A campus event organized by National Students for Justice in Palestine has been allowed to take place this weekend, despite generating a large amount of contention.
The event sparked controversy due to accusations of NSJP’s antisemitism. Most notably, some members of the public expressed concern that the kite in the logo for the event resembled a kite bomb. An incident in May, in which SJP members disrupted a Students Supporting Israel event on campus, was also cited.
Chancellor Gene Block said in a statement and an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times that UCLA administrators will still allow the event to take place on campus. He noted that since the event wasn’t using student fees, the event didn’t have to be open to all students.
The conference has been steeped in controversy for quite a while – on Oct. 31, UCLA administrators issued a cease-and-desist order against the National Students for Justice in Palestine for using the school’s mascot in an advertisement for the conference. There has been some controversy over this decision; on Tuesday, the Undergraduate Students Association Council passed a resolution that condemned the order as an overstep.
Law professor Richard Sander alleged that the University of California has illegally factored race into its admissions decisions. The lawsuit comes after the UC failed to provide admissions records for over a year – under the California Public Records Act, records must be provided immediately.
Sander, whose previous research on affirmative action has generated controversy, filed this suit alongside George Shen, founder of the Asian American Community Services Center. Sander noted that an internal university report stated that, among equally qualified candidates, Asian Americans are admitted at lower rates.
The UC Office of the President alleges that Sander requested confidential information on applicants, an allegation that Sander denies. Sander also stated that his request for similar data to the one requested now was granted 10 years ago.
This suit comes in the midst of a federal lawsuit against Harvard University, which is similarly accused of discriminating against Asian Americans in its admissions practices. Sander himself stated that he wasn’t suing for discrimination, only because his request for data was denied.
Much of the discussion during the Board of Regents meeting was dominated by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the union which organized the May and October strikes. While members protested outside, many students expressed solidarity to the union during the public comments section of the meeting.
Students also urged the Board of Regents to divest the University of California from fossil fuels and to create a basic needs special committee to help ensure access to affordable food and housing. The committee was created after a motion was passed by the regents’ Governance and Compensation Committee.
Additionally, the Public Engagement and Development Committee discussed the impact the midterm elections might have on the UC, while the Academic and Student Affairs Committee voiced concerns about the student-to-faculty ratio across the UC system.