Disruption at UC Berkeley dean’s home is latest campus flashpoint over Gaza

UC Berkeley’s law school dean, Erwin Chemerinsky, and his wife, law professor Catherine Fisk, invited third-year students to their home for a dinner to celebrate the students’ upcoming graduation. But it became a scene of anger when a student arose to denounce the school’s financial support for Israel’s government — just the latest in a series of confrontations at the university over Israel and Palestine.

Malak Afaneh, leader of Berkeley Law Students for Justice in Palestine, stood up in the couple’s backyard Tuesday evening to denounce the university’s investments in manufacturers of weapons for Israel and had just spoken the words “as-salamu alaykum” — meaning peace and blessings to you — when Fisk grabbed her and tried to take away her microphone, according to the Bay Area Palestine Youth Movement.

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An Instagram post by the two student groups said the professor was “violently assaulting” Afaneh. In the video, Fisk attempts to take Afaneh’s phone from her hand, then puts her arm around the student while telling her to leave her house. Chemerinsky said he and Fisk told Afaneh to leave, and about 10 of the 60 students left with her.

“I am enormously sad that we have students who are so rude as to come into my home, in my backyard, and use this social occasion for their political agenda,” Chemerinsky said in a statement Wednesday. “I have spent my career staunchly defending freedom of speech.”

He said posters had appeared on law school bulletin boards and social media last week showing a caricature of his face, with hands holding a bloody knife and fork, captioned “No dinner with Zionist Chem while Gaza starves.” “I never thought I would see such blatant antisemitism,” Chemerinsky said. 

The dean said student government leaders had told him to expect protests at the dinners, but he and Fisk decided to host them anyway, assuming any protests would “not be disruptive.”

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ said she was “appalled” by the incident and had contacted Chemerinsky to offer her sympathy. “While our support for Free Speech is unwavering, we cannot condone using a social occasion at a person’s private residence as a platform for protest,” Christ said in a statement.

The student groups could not be reached for comment.

The issue surfaced at the university in 2022 when a number of student organizations, led by Law Students for Justice in Palestine, announced that they would not invite speakers who supported Zionism, which defines the land of Israel as a Jewish state.

Last October, a week after Hamas’ attack on Israel that began the current war, Berkeley law professor Steven Davidoff Solomon wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal accusing the student groups of antisemitism and urging law firms not to hire any of his students who agreed with the groups.

In November, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, a Zionist organization, filed suit accusing the law school of promoting antisemitism by allowing students to exclude pro-Zionist speakers. And last month, the Republican-controlled House Labor and Workforce Committee announced an investigation into allegations of antisemitism at UC Berkeley. 

Chemerinsky, who is Jewish and generally supportive of Israel, has been caught in the middle. He said he disagreed with the student groups’ policies — which, he noted, would exclude him as a speaker — but believed they had a right to invite only speakers who agreed with their views.

In an open letter to the Berkeley law community in October, Chemerinsky said Solomon “was speaking for himself and not for the institution” in calling on law firms not to hire students because of their views. UC Berkeley, the dean said, “is strongly committed to helping all of our students find employment.”

In February, Palestinian supporters stretched a banner opposing the “Zionist Entity” across Sather Gate, the south entrance of campus, preventing students from walking through the central arch of the gate.

Click here to read the full article in the SF Chronicle

Lawsuit accuses UC Berkeley Law School of ‘unchecked spread of anti-Semitism’

A Zionist organization sued the University of California on Tuesday, accusing the UC Berkeley Law School of promoting anti-Semitism and discriminating against Jews by allowing student groups to bar Zionists as speakers at their meetings.

“Zionism is an integral component of Jewish identity,” attorneys for the Louis D. Brandeis Foundation said in a lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco. “Anti-Zionism is discrimination against those who recognize the Jews’ ancestral heritage — in particular the Jews’ historic connection to the land of Israel.”

The suit says it “targets the longstanding, unchecked spread of antisemitism at the University of California Berkeley.”

They cited a policy announced in August 2022 by Law Students for Justice in Palestine and now followed, according to the suit, by 23 of the 100 organizations in the 1,100-student law school. Saying Zionism is used to justify the displacement and oppression of Palestinians, the groups have adopted bylaws saying they would not invite pro-Zionist speakers, who describe Israel as a Jewish state.

The lawsuit said the climate on campus has become more hostile since the Oct. 7 assault on Israel by military forces from Hamas, which rules Gaza, followed by weeks of attacks by Israel’s military on Gaza and the West Bank.

“A Jewish student draped in an Israeli flag was attacked by two protesters who struck him in the head with a metal water bottle,” Brandeis lawyers said. “Jews on campus have been receiving hate emails calling for their gassing and murder. And Jewish students have reported being afraid to go to class, which would require them to pass through the pro-Hamas rallies taking place in Berkeley’s main thoroughfares.”

The lawsuit asked a federal judge to prohibit the university from funding or recognizing “any student organization that excludes Jews.” But the student groups say they do not exclude Jews or Zionists, only pro-Zionist speakers. And UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof said Tuesday the university “has long been committed to confronting antisemitism, and to supporting the needs and interests of its Jewish students, faculty, and staff.”

He cited UC Berkeley’s establishment last year of an Antisemitism Education Initiative, the first of its kind by a major university, with workshops and lectures on Zionism and discrimination against Jews. UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ said in a message to students Nov. 3 that hateful speech and actions against either Jews or Palestinians “has no place on our campus or in our discourse.”

Christ also said she condemns “the harassment, threats, and doxxing that have targeted our Palestinian students and their supporters,” as well as the “alarming increase in antisemitic expression in our country, in general, and on our college campuses, in particular.”

UC President Michael Drake announced last week that the university was establishing an office to combat discrimination and would provide training against both antisemitism and Islamophobia.

But Steven Solomon, a UC Berkeley law professor and a plaintiff in the suit, said Jewish students at the school are not being protected. 

“The students are cowed, they’re fearful, harassed. Some of them are not attending class,” Solomon told the Chronicle Tuesday. “They’re dehumanized in ways that would not be tolerated for any other group on campus.”

In a column published by the Wall Street Journal on Oct. 16, Solomon described the student groups that rejected Zionist speakers as antisemitic and urged law firms not to hire any of his students who agreed with the groups.

The law school’s dean, Erwin Chemerinsky, has said he disagrees with the student organizations’ exclusion of Zionist speakers — a policy, he told the groups, that might bar him from speaking because he supports “the existence of Israel.” But he has also said they have a right to invite only speakers who agree with their views.

The new lawsuit, with its attacks on the policies and climate at the school, “describes a place that doesn’t exist” and gives short shrift to the students’ constitutional right of free speech, Chemerinsky said Tuesday.

The student groups’ rejection of pro-Zionist speakers was challenged last November in a civil rights complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education by two lawyers, who said in their complaint that the groups’ policies were “contributing to the creation of a hostile environment for Jewish students, faculty and staff.” 

In response to that complaint, Zoha Khalili, an attorney at Palestine Legal, said the student groups “care about human rights” and have a legal and moral right to boycott Zionist speakers.

Chemerinsky said the law school filed its response to the complaint early this year. He said the Department of Education notified a number of law schools this month that their policies were being investigated and that UC Berkeley was not on the list.

But in Tuesday’s lawsuit, the Brandeis Foundation said that in order to join or meet with groups at the Berkeley law school, “Jewish students, faculty, and guest speakers must deny a central part of their cultural, ancestral heritage and a fundamental tenet of their faith.”

Click here to read the full article in the SF Chronicle

Berkeley Faculty Senate Fights Against Faculty Housing

The need for less expensive housing in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley has been so plain for so long that many of those on the outside of California looking in wonder why local governments, developers and voters can’t get on the same page and get things done. A January story in the New York Times about the unexpected backlash to San Jose Unified’s attempts to prevent an exodus of teachers by offering subsidized housing reflected this sense of puzzlement.

But a story unfolding at the University of California’s Berkeley campus shows the complexity and difficulty of adding housing in urban areas of the Golden State. Housing development is seen by some communities and interest groups as a zero-sum game – if one side wins, then the other side or sides must have lost.

To address a lack of affordable housing that UC Berkeley says has made it difficult to attract and retain professors, Chancellor Carol Christ last year launched an aggressive push to replace a four-story campus parking building with 350 vehicle spaces with a $126 million complex that included 150 faculty apartments, 170 parking spots and a relatively small academic building.

But the plan to tear down the Upper Hearst parking building has faced steadily increasing criticism from faculty members. Their concern is that building the project would add to the heavy debt load borne by the university because of the $474 million cost of recent stadium renovations and the construction of a new student athletic center.

Yet coverage by the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this month of the Berkeley faculty Senate’s 174-69 vote asking Christ to suspend the project noted that the most pitched criticisms of the proposal came from engineering faculty members who stood to lose their access to convenient parking. Their criticism of the project continued even after Christ presented documents that she said showed the developer and property manager bore the financial risks if the project had cost overruns or other problems – not the university.

City says campus minimized enrollment growth

Meanwhile, a new front in this fight emerged in late April when the Berkeley City Council voted to sue UC Berkeley and the UC system over the apartment complex – even though city leaders praised Christ for seeking to add on-campus housing.

Council members cited planning documents previously filed with the city under which the university forecast it would have a student enrollment of 33,450 by 2020. Instead, as of January, enrollment already stood at about 41,000 – more than 25 percent higher than what UC officials had predicted.

Since under state law, the UC campus doesn’t pay local property taxes, city leaders say Berkeley taxpayers are the ones who are saddled with the cost of this fast growth.

This enrollment spurt has led to “increasing burdens on our streets, police and fire services,” Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin said in a news release.

But Christ has been conciliatory to city officials, suggesting the university sees a path to addressing City Hall’s concerns about campus enrollment growth.

Yet the Berkeley chancellor isn’t deferring to the faculty Senate. She’s moved ahead with plans to tear down the Upper Hearst parking structure. The building could be closed next month, and construction work could begin this September, according to stories in the Daily Californian student newspaper. UC Berkeley officials hope the new complex can be finished by summer 2021.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Berkeley approves 25-cent fee on disposable cups

Discarded cups in a garbage container seen Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, in Berkeley, Calif. Berkeley has approved a 25-cent tax on disposable cups city officials say is part of an effort to eliminate restaurant waste. The City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to approve the ordinance that also forces restaurants to provide to-go containers that are compostable by January 2020. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Patrons of restaurants and coffee shops in Berkeley, California, who don’t bring a reusable cup for their beverage will have to pay a 25-cent fee for a disposable cup as part of an ordinance approved by city officials to reduce restaurant waste.

Berkeley’s City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the fee on single-use cups that will take effect January 2020.

“The goal is to transition Berkeley from throwaway to reusable food ware, to incentivize people to bring their own cup,” said Councilwoman Sophie Hahn, who co-authored the ordinance with Mayor Jesse Arreguin.

The ordinance, called Disposable-Free Dining, also requires restaurants to provide takeout containers that are compostable by mid-2020 and to provide only reusable plates and utensils for those eating in. It also says other disposable items, like lids and stirrers, can only be offered when requested. …

Click here to read the full article from the Sacramento Bee

Berkeley Officials Reject Plan to Fast-Track New Housing

HousingAs CalWatchdog reported July 2, the city of Cupertino’s decision to stop fighting a massive mall makeover project enabled by a far-reaching 2017 state law meant to promote more housing construction could someday be seen as a milestone in state planning.

Senate Bill 35 by Sen. Scott Weiner, D-San Francisco, requires cities that have not met their affordable housing requirements to approve projects that are properly zoned, pay union-scale wages to builders and have at least 10 percent of units in “affordable” ranges.

After months of objections from Cupertino elected officials and activists, in June, the city signed off on developer Sand Hill Property Company’s plan to convert the largely empty 58-acre Vallco Mall site to a huge multi-use project with 2,400 residential units, 400,000 square feet of retail space and 1.8 million square feet of office space

Given that 98 percent of cities have been found to have an inadequate supply of affordable housing, according to a state evaluation, the Cupertino precedent seemed potentially huge.

Two months later, new developments related to SB35 appear to point in the opposite direction.

Last week, Berkeley officials rejected a plan to use the law to fast-track approval of 260 apartments and 27,500 square feet of commercial space at 1900 4th Street just east of the Berkeley Marina despite evidence presented by developer Blake Griggs Properties that it was properly zoned and otherwise met SB35’s edicts.

City tactics in fighting project have familiar ring

The tactics that Berkeley is prepared to use mirrored the ways that construction projects have been fought in California for decades: raising a variety of legal objections that could cost developers millions of dollars because of delays, even if they have little or no validity or applicability.

Berkeley planning chief Timothy Burroughs said the project could not proceed because:

  • It would have been built on land designated as a historical landmark because of a Native American burial ground. As a city with its own charter government, it is given deference in protecting its history.
  •  It would have considerable low-income housing but not enough housing for those with very low incomes.
  •  It would have increased traffic in the area in ways not allowed by city laws.

The objections were of the sort that Weiner sought to bypass with SB35. This is why the developer warned of a lawsuit earlier in the summer after the city put up roadblocks to approval.

But in a surprising move reported last week by the San Jose Mercury-News, West Berkeley Investors – part of the group backing developer Blake Griggs Properties – has backed out of the project without explanation. The assumption of many is that it saw the hassles as outweighing the chances for success.

The Mercury-News also reported that a spokesman for Berkeley City Hall said officials would welcome it if developers chose to reactivate a previous application that had far fewer residential units – 135 – and slightly more commercial space – 33,000 square feet.

In his Sept. 4 letter rejecting the latest version of the project, the city planning chief emphasized the historical significance of the Native American burial ground. Why that significance would lose weight in planning decisions if a smaller project were being considered was not explained.

But Burroughs pushed back against the idea his city was hostile to adding housing stock. He said 910 housing units have been built since 2014, 525 are now being constructed and 1,070 are cleared and in the pipeline.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

UC Berkeley professor blames rent control for California’s housing crisis

UC BerkeleyKenneth Rosen, a UC Berkeley economist and real estate consultant, published a paper Wednesday titled The Case For Preserving Costa Hawkins, in hopes of swaying voters against Proposition 10.

Proposition 10, which will go before voters in November, would repeal the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Act, a state law that severely curtails rent control in California cities. For example, under Costa-Hawkins, only San Francisco apartments built before 1979 may be subject to rent control.

Passing Proposition 10 would not in and of itself create any new rent control housing, but it would allow cities to expand rent control stock for the first time in decades if they so choose.

Rosen, however, argues that turning the clock back to 1994 will stifle new housing and drain apartment stock. …

Click here to read the full article from SF Curbed

Berkeley Report on Free Speech Blames Conservatives for Campus Unrest

UC BerkeleyThe University of California Berkeley has conducted an investigation of problems related to free speech on campus — particularly surrounding events where conservatives (or even insufficiently left-wing “progressives”) are invited to speak on campus and met with violence and disruption by left-wing activists.

Bizarrely, the report of the Commission on Free Speech concludes that conservatives, not the left, are to blame for the violence on campus.

In one passage, the report states: “[O]ur conclusion is that the rise of ultra-conservative rhetoric, including white supremacist views and protest marches, legitimized by the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath, encouraged far-right and alt-right activists to ‘spike the football’ at Berkeley.”

It insists: “Contrary to a currently popular narrative, Berkeley remains a tolerant campus.”

And it blames student groups who invite conservative speakers onto campus, while simultaneously denying that Berkeley is denying conservatives their free speech rights:

All the 2017 events that led to disruption were sponsored by very small groups of students working closely with outside organizations. Although those speakers had every right to speak and were entitled to protection, they did not need to be on campus to exercise the right of free speech. Indeed, at least some of the 2017 events at Berkeley can now be seen to be part of a coordinated campaign to organize appearances on American campuses likely to incite a violent reaction, in order to advance a facile narrative that universities are not tolerant of conservative speech.

While insisting that the commission does not condone the sort of violence that greeted then-Breitbart Tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos last year, the commission warned students against inviting speakers with provocative views:

That said, the Commission recommends that all members of the campus community be mindful of one another and do unto others as they would want done to themselves. There are better ways to expand the political dialogue on campus than to invite a shock jock performance artist, as Professor Rossman characterized Yiannopoulos, to belittle historically oppressed communities.

The report said that student organizations should be “balancing their right to hold events with their responsibility to the community.”

As Megan McArdle notes in the Washington Post:

They have plenty of harsh words, however, for the conservatives who were targeted. “Many Commission members are skeptical of these speakers’ commitment to anything other than the pursuit of wealth and fame through the instigation of anger, fear, and vengefulness in their hard-right constituency.” Their invitations to speak represented “the assertion of individual rights at the expense of social responsibility by a handful of students.” As a result, the commission finds speech of this kind “hard to defend, especially in light of the acute distress it caused (and was intended to cause) to staff and students.”

In the report, conservatives are active, provoking and triggering. The left-wing activists who set things on fire appear in passive voice, that great grammatical machine for sanitizing the indefensible. Left-wing groups have reasonable fears for their safety from conservative speakers, and the police needed to defend them (from what? Further deponent sayeth not.) Conservative students “allege” that their beliefs make them targets for left-wing professors. And when it comes to the remedies, it’s clear who the commission thinks ought to change their ways.

She concludes: “[T]hus the ancestral home of the free-speech movement inches as close as it dares to advocating for censorship of any speech that offends a powerful majority — or even any minority that’s decently armed.”

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Berkeley Votes to Become ‘Sanctuary City’ for Marijuana Crimes

Marijuana smokingCalifornia’s war on the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution took a dramatic new step on Tuesday, as the city of Berkeley declared itself a “sanctuary city” for marijuana-related crimes.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to become a sanctuary city for legal adult-use marijuana, prohibiting city agencies and employees from turning over information on legal cannabis activities and assisting in enforcing federal marijuana laws.

“I believe we can balance public safety and resisting the Trump administration,” Mayor Jesse Arreguin said at Tuesday’s council meeting. “We’re keeping with the strong position Berkeley is a sanctuary for people in our community.”

The measure doesn’t prevent the Police Department and other officials from collaborating with federal agents on nonpot-related criminal matters.

Berkeley is thought to be the first such “sanctuary city” in the nation.

The new Berkeley policy takes the “sanctuary city” principle, which first developed to protect illegal aliens in defiance of federal immigration law, and extends it to drug laws.

Essentially, Berkeley is declaring that local governments have the power to nullify federal laws with which they disagree by refusing to enforce them or to cooperate with the federal government in their enforcement.

Critics have contended that the “sanctuary city” principle repeats the attempt by segregationist states in the Jim Crow South to override federal civil rights laws and policies.

Several California cities are “sanctuary cities” with regard to illegal aliens, and the state as a whole became a “sanctuary state” earlier this year.

The new Berkeley policy confirms the fear that what began with immigration policy could spread to other areas as well.

Recreational marijuana became legal in California on January 1, thanks to Proposition 64, which voters passed in 2016. However, marijuana remains largely illegal under federal law.

The policy of the Department of Justice under the Trump administration is to leave the question of enforcing federal laws on marijuana to the discretion of local federal prosecutors — a reversal of the Obama administration policy of not enforcing federal drug laws in states that had legalized marijuana.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Does Berkeley’s Teachers Union Support Free Speech to Suppress Free Speech?

“There is no free speech for fascists. They do not have the right to organize for genocide.”
–  Yvette Felarca, as reported by Frances Dinkelspiel writing for Berkeleyside, Nov. 2, 2016

Most anyone who follows current events is familiar with the riots at UC Berkeley that stopped a planned February 1st appearance by Breitbart editor and provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. Fewer people may be familiar with Yvette Felarca, an activist and organizer with the group BAMN (By Any Means Necessary), a “coalition to defend affirmative action, integration and immigration rights and fight for equality by any means necessary.” Mother Jones, who probably would not opine to this effect without strong evidence, in 2005 called BAMN “a Communist front-group.”

If you watch this recent television interview with Felarca on KTVU Oakland, or her recent interview on Fox News, you will see she is carefully making a case for violence against “fascists.” In her Fox interview, Felarca defines fascism this way: “A fascist is someone who is organizing a mass movement that’s attacking women, immigrants, black people, other minority groups, and a movement of genocide.” She goes on to say – regarding Yiannopolous – “he should not be allowed to speak in public, to spread his racist, misogynistic, and homophobic lies. No, he does not have the right to do that.”

UC Berkeley, 2/02/2017. Free speech tactics aimed at suppressing free speech.

The UC Berkeley riots are not Felarca’s first experience with street activism. As reported by the Daily Californian, “The Berkeley Unified School District placed Felarca on administrative leave Sept. 21 [2016] after she was filmed physically attacking a self-proclaimed white nationalist during a protest in June.”

You got that right. Felarca is a humanities teacher at a public middle school. And six weeks after being placed on leave, Felarca returned to the classroom.

So here’s the question. A representative from the Berkeley Federation of Teachers was present at the Felarca’s reinstatement meeting, and presumably was involved in the negotiations between Felarca and the district. And as Felarca’s attorney puts it, “We continue to … fight for her free speech right and academic freedom. We also seek damages for the violations on her rights … to make sure that everybody’s rights are protected.”

To fight for her “free speech.” Free speech that attacks any alleged “movement of genocide.”

Would a spokesperson from the Berkeley Federation of Teachers care to comment on the free speech rights of teachers who oppose the position their union takes on abortion? Because apparently, in the world of California’s public education system, people who engage in provocative speech that challenges left-wing truisms can be accused of building a “movement of genocide,” whereas people who consider millions of terminated pregnancies to be actual genocide are silenced by their unions.

One may believe abortion is murder or one may believe it is an inalienable woman’s right. One may believe that Milo Yiannopolous is a dangerous agitator, or one may believe he raises important counter-arguments to the conventional wisdom of the left. But regardless of personal sentiments and principles, can anyone deny that the teachers union takes political stands that not all their members will agree with?

Consider this quote from former CTA Executive Director Carolyn Doggett: “In California, and with the support of CTA, we have fought back three attempts to curtail a woman’s right to choose, including measures that would have endangered the lives of teenage girls. Currently, California is one of only ten states that have no additional restrictions on reproductive health.”

Polarization is nurtured when people feel victimized by institutionalized hypocrisy and double standards. Felarca and her movement engaged in violent suppression of free speech because they claim – with no evidence – that Yiannopoulos is a genocidal fascist. Does the teachers union condone her activities? And if not, are they willing to make a statement?

Meanwhile, with their political support for a woman’s right to choose well documented, every year in California the teachers union forces collects millions, if not hundreds of millions, in agency fees from members who – with ample evidence – consider mass abortions to be genocide. And they condemn the activities of teachers who oppose their position.

If this is not a double standard, then the term has no meaning.

Ed Ring is the vice president of policy research for the California Policy Center.

In California, the Anniversaries of Two Big Ballot Initiatives Go Unreported

University-of-CaliforniaThe media usually love to celebrate the anniversary of the passage of a major law or policy shift. During 2016 in California, however, they took a pass on mentioning two key milestones.

November 5 marked 20 years since California voters approved Proposition 209 — also known as the California Civil Rights Initiative — by a margin of 54 to 46 percent. This measure ended racial, ethnic and gender preferences in state-college admissions, state employment and state contracting. Opponents claimed that Prop. 209 would bring on the end of affirmative action, but state colleges and universities could still cast the widest possible net for admissions and extend a hand to minority students on an economic basis.

The disaster that opponents predicted would result from Proposition 209 never occurred. As Thomas Sowell noted in his 2013 book Intellectuals and Race, declines in minority enrollment at UCLA and Berkeley were offset by increases at other University of California campuses. More important, the number of African American and Hispanic students graduating from the UC system went up, including a 55 percent increase in those graduating in four years with a GPA of 3.5 or higher. Still, critics maintain that Proposition 209 harmed “diversity.” In bureaucratic parlance, “diversity” means that all institutions should precisely reflect the racial or ethnic proportions of the population. If they don’t, the reason must be deliberate discrimination, and the only remedy is government action — namely, racial and ethnic preferences of the type that the University of California imposed before Proposition 209.

The proportionality dogma isn’t law, yet politically correct administrators believe that some groups are “overrepresented,” that is, there are “too many” of some kinds of people on campus. This usually means Asians, targets of much discrimination in California history. In recent years, UC campuses have bulked up on high-salaried diversity bureaucrats. In similar style, the city of Sacramento has created a new position for a “diversity manager.” Politicians have also deployed measures such as the 2012 Senate Constitutional Amendment 5, sponsored by West Covina Democrat Ed Hernandez, who claimed it would ensure that universities would “reflect the diversity of the state.” Asian groups cried foul, and Assembly Speaker John Pérez, a Los Angeles Democrat, returned SCA 5 to the Senate without a vote.

The 30th anniversary of another historic California ballot measure passed without notice in November. On November 4, 1986, California voters passed Proposition 63, the Official Language of California Amendment. This measure directs the state legislature to “preserve the role of English as the state’s common language” and refrain from “passing laws which diminish or ignore the role of English as the state’s common language.” Seventy-three percent of California voters approved the measure, a landslide by any definition, and it’s still on the books. So what has the government of California done over the last 30 years to ensure that the democratic will of the people was respected? Nothing; they ignored it. “In short, state legislators and public officials acted as if Prop. 63 never existed,” wrote Orange County Register columnist Gordon Dillow in 2006. As this writer, an immigrant, can testify, some level of proficiency in English is a requirement for American citizenship, which, in turn, is a requirement for voting. Yet, in 2016, the California voter guide came in English and, count ‘em, six other languages: Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. With 17 propositions to translate into seven languages, the voter guide packed the heft of a phone book.

A raft of stories accompanied October’s tenth anniversary of the passage of California’s “historic climate law,” yet not a single one commemorated the passage of successful propositions to end racial quotas and establish English as the official state language. Sadly, the Golden State’s political class and old-line establishment media remain out of touch with the people.

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Bill of Writes: Dispatches from the Political Correctness Battlefield and Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation.

This piece was originally published by City Journal online