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Indybay Feature
Tree Sit Ends But Resistance Continues
by LRDP-Resistance Media ( [at]
Saturday Dec 13th, 2008 3:55 PM
Santa Cruz, CA -- Over four hundred days ago, a handful of activists climbed up into the trees on Science Hill as a symbol of resistance to the university's plan to destroy 120 acres of campus forest. For the past 13 months, the tree sit has drawn attention to UCSC's reckless plan to develop upper campus without regard for the welfare of one of Santa Cruz's last wild ecosystems.
At approximately 8 AM this morning, the tree sit drew to a close as police seized control of Science Hill, arresting one Tree Sitter. Later, a tree cutting service hired by the university cut down a grove of 100 year old redwood trees to make way for construction of a new Bioscience building.

The three clusters of redwoods which have now been clearcut were inhabited since November 7, 2007, when over 500 students, alumni, and community members rallied in opposition to the University's "Long Range Development Plan". The Tree Sit and the University entered mediation to find a solution to this conflict, but the University was unwilling to modify any of their plans, despite the devastating effect that upper campus development will have on the Santa Cruz ecosystem. Precious watershed regions, unique manzanita groves and hundred-year old redwood forests will be destroyed by the University's development of the wild lands just north of campus. The homes of such rare native animals as the burrowing owl and the endangered red-legged frog will be irreparably damaged.

The Tree Sit tactic was employed due to the University's failure to meaningfully address the concerns of Santa Cruz city and county officials, community members, environmentalists and UCSC faculty and students. Instead of acting upon the concerns of the thousands of people who have voiced opposition to increased University construction, UCSC has spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to hire riot police to intimidate community members who oppose their plans.

The end of the Tree Sit is not the end of resistance to the Long Range Development Plan. The determination and integrity that sustained the 13 month occupation will continue to incite action against the Long Range Development Plan. The diverse communities that united to oppose the destruction of upper campus are renewed in their commitment to resistance.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Wild Gurl
Saturday Dec 13th, 2008 5:28 PM
We should all grieve over the loss of those beautiful old trees. Of the two million acres of redwoods that used to be here, there are only 85,000 acres left now. It seems like such a waste to cut them down when the university owns so much more non-forest land.

I am sick and tired of the university doing whatever it wants, regardless of the damage to the natural habitat and the surrounding community.
by Angelina
Saturday Dec 13th, 2008 6:41 PM
I agree that it is a sad day.

However, I would like to point out that there are far more than 85,000 acres of redwoods in California. This article from the Nature Conservancy references "209,000 acres of northern California's redwood forest — representing 10 percent of all redwoods left on Earth." So, there is still about 2 million acres of redwood forest. 899,000 alone acres are "managed" for timber production in California.

For the most part, where there used to be redwood forest before European colonization, there is still redwood forest.

This is the main difference: most of the current redwood forest is second or even third growth, and is not a mature forest (what most people refer to as "old growth"). Mature forest ecology is different from and richer than regrowth forest. In addition, while the redwood forest still covers its original post-Ice Age area, the forest is less dense, because people build houses in the middle of it. Such use results in ecological islands, which isolate subpopulations of many species and cause all sorts of problems.

Finally, I don't like the cutting down of these trees, nor the further planned development at UCSC. However, I don't think that developing the unforested places on campus is the answer. Those places--such as the Great Meadow--are also distinct and valuable ecologies that deserve respect and protection. Just because they are less photogenic or less spectacular or less whatever-it-is-that-makes-the-forest-seem-more-special doesn't mean that developing them is somehow preferable.

by fir
Saturday Dec 13th, 2008 7:06 PM
i used to live up in that forest. it's super beautiful. all around ucsc is park land- greywhale, henry cowell, the pogonip. the areas they want to develop should be park land, too...the treesit was largely symbolic, the next wave of proposed development will not be. let's see if we can figure out ways to actually win these battles against the mighty UC...x
by yar
Sunday Dec 14th, 2008 3:24 PM
So... The University got what it wanted and it did not have to change it's position on anything as a result of the treesit. What did the treesit accomplish here?

Ummm... protests generally end in arrests. That's why they're called protests - against corruption and arrogance, often. What's odd is the timing, and the suddenness... almost as if the whole thing were coordinated behind the scenes.

And no one has asked the obvious question: with the economy in a massive slump, and with the UC already canceling their UC Extension program, raising tuition and cutting back on classes, why is $80 million going to a new building that only benefits pharmaceutical and medical device entrepreneurs?
by Jon
Monday Dec 15th, 2008 8:55 AM
OK, I can't handle any more of this vitriol. Jennifer Charles and the tree sitters are either lying to you or they're totally misinformed.

The building is designed to do research for the public interest to benefit society. Read for yourselves, think for yourselves.

Oh and Sorrel, you might want to rethink wearing animal fur (or even fake fur) when being interviewed on local TV if one of the arguments against the building the possible use of animal testing. Just a thought.
by fir
Monday Dec 15th, 2008 11:50 AM
you and the ucsc arguments you reference are filled with flaws. not sure if it's worth my time to reply, but as someone who has longed watched and attempted to participate in ucsc's planning process going back to the Elfland hacking, here goes: why exactly are the population goals of the lrdp significant? these numbers are what growth is based upon, attempting to fulfill these uc regent, externally imposed, guidelines. yes, they do fluctuate, oftentimes i've found according to how vigilant students and the community are. when students/the community are vigilant, the numbers go down, or are reduced to the more near term rather than long term population assessments that will be greater in number. for some reason during mrc greenwood's term, honestly probably because she was ucsc's first woman chancellor and the political incorrectness of questioning her, protest became more muted. she very successfully pushed through campus expansion and we bear the brunt of that for "student input," and the general planning process, these timelines are usually beyond the time that students will be students on campus. oftentimes, student input on these types of committees is reduced to merely sitting and listening, not inputting nor being able to vote. and at that, no more than one vote out of 4 or 5. my experience with these committees is that they are often a waste of time and a mere diversion of productive activity that could be spent elsewhere, such as the treesit. ucsc and the uc system/regents is not an inherently democratic process. don't be fooled. they operate outside of local, and frequently even state, jurisdiction- the regents are appointed usually because of political connections or donations, etc, with the commiserate connections to the "military industrial complex"...i could go on and on but nay, shall not...
by Jon
Monday Dec 15th, 2008 1:13 PM
Just an alum who no longer attends UCSC nor am I an employee. I also has watched the whole scene but I have a different opinion than you. But this, it seems, means that I'm a victim of 'mainstream propaganda', unlike you of course. I guess we could do a point/counterpoint for days on end but, well, what's the point? But let's just say a LOT of the things being shouted by the tree sitters was either distorted or simply not true.
by tit for tat
Monday Dec 15th, 2008 3:28 PM
Trying to discredit someones viewpoint by making snarky insinuations with no factual basis is sort of crummy, isn't it?

by fir
Tuesday Dec 16th, 2008 7:25 AM
points taken "economy" and "tit" and noted though not conceded that you do not work for the university, though de facto are through regurgitating their propaganda...just encouraging folx to look beyond peoples' images and ideologies to what people are doing. the university is wonderful at putting their word out in colorful glossy words and webpages and the treesitters may say controversial things that are reviled by many, though i do think jen charles has spoken well of the cause...the university has acted, against the wishes and best interests of the community at large, in my opinion, though the city council did tragically capitulate in the end and retract their stand against further university building. the treesitters acted for the community, in my opinion. the university has the police to back them up. the treesitters their bodies. treesitters illegal. university legal.
by tit for tat
Tuesday Dec 16th, 2008 8:43 AM
You started out by suggesting that the other person worked for a "propoganda dept." of the campus. (Though I don't know of such a department. Probably you mean their press office. But if wer'e going to talk about propaganda vs. honest reporting, we shouldn't be doing so on a site that regularly cleanses dissenting points of view, should we? *s* But I digress....)

But now, you seem to have expanded even further by suggesting that anyone who works for the campus is one of their mouthpieces? That is weak, trying to lump 3,000+ people together, as if they would all have the same viewpoint on any issue.

I were to accept that premise, then I'd have to also accept that, by your logic of the employees being a herd, that the tree sitters failed to convince any UCSC employee of the value of their resistence.

All or nothing, right? Wrong.
The public-private partnership behind the expansion of the pharmaceutical/medical device division on campus is called QB3. It involves partnering the University of California with some of the biggest corporations (and biggest polluters) on the planet, such as General Electric and DuPont (1).

In all cases, the intellectual property generated using taxpayer dollars will be under the sole control of these giant corporations - that's what they get in exchange for their measly contributions, while the state is supposed to foot the rest of the bill. Some entrepreneurial scientists love it as well, because they are promised a small percentage of the royalties - essentially, they get to play at being start-up company owners while drawing a fat salary from the public purse.

QB3 "Industry Partnerships" include the following corporate interests:

Agouron Institute
Amershan Healthcare (MediPhysics & US Biochem)
Becton, Dickinson and Company
Burroughs Wellcome
Ciba Vision
GlaxoSmithKline (fka Glaxo Wellcome)
Gryphon Sciences
Real Time Health, Inc.
Research Corp.
Scios, Inc.
Syntex (Roche Biosci)

There are numerous examples of this kind of thing in UCSC's own departments already - for example, everyone knows that natural sponge-derived compounds may have anticancer or other properties. What you may not know is that those compounds have been patented by UCSC researchers (Crews et al) under Bayh-Dole laws (enacted in 1980), and that the patent has been exclusively licensed to one Gallileo Labs:

What that means is that "intellectual property" (really just natural compounds, not even true inventions) discovered entirely using public money at a taxpayer-supported institution will end up in private hands - that's just one example. There are literally dozens.

So, that's what the increased student fees are going for - a corporate privatization of the university, managed by a handful of people like Kliger and Blumenthal - their kickback is that they are appointed to lucrative and powerful positions within the academic structure as a reward for doing the bidding of these giant corporate interests.

by concerned
Thursday Dec 18th, 2008 2:27 PM
while i agree that some of the research that will go on in the new biomedical building will involve partnerships with large corporations, it is not fair to say that it is intended strictly for corporate partnerships.

so much of the work done in sinsheimer labs and in psb is basic biological and chemical research that does not involve discovery of drugs, synthesis of drugs, or testing of drugs. with the million dollar grant recently obtained for stem cell research and all the other NIH money that already filters through the campus, much of the research focuses on picking apart basic mechanism.

having public institutions that use public money do work that should be done in the private sector is a problem definitely. again, however, you cannot automatically assume that all work in the new building will be for the benefit of pharmaceutical companies.

by ananon
Friday Dec 19th, 2008 8:16 AM
Although the economic conspiracy theory above concerning qb3, corporate overlords, drug millions, and "lucrative" university salaries is mildly entertaining, it is not very accurate because the role of universities is not just to keep former or never students out of its landscaping, nor is it simply to attempt to educate the 18-24 year old demographic. Research isn't a hobby to keep faculty on the payroll, it's actually done to discover new things that nobody else will, in order improve the human condition. But the university is not a drug company it is true. So explain to me how a professor who discovers that a certain chemical will kill the malaria parasite is going to help cure malaria? Intellectual property is a challenging concept, but it doesn't mean you own something forever. It means you are protected to throw the large amount of money needed into a project in order to bring it safely to the people who need it. No company would take this risk without the assurance that they get to be the only ones to do it for a while (17 years). Many of the companies listed produce extremely important compounds, many of which were discovered at universities. Agouron at the top of the list produced one of the first best anti-HIV compounds that has given years and years of quality of life to people living with HIV. Yes they get paid, but as anyone reading more than these pages would know, delivering these to poor people with HIV is an ongoing concern that is being sensibly address, using university leadership by the way! QB3's main focus is to find drugs for neglected diseases, neglected because they are not found often in the first world, but are a huge problem in the third world. Drug companies have been slow to address these diseases because obviously the suffers are not as wealthy as those for whom erectile dysfunction is their main concern. Nonetheless, the university, in part through qb3, is influencing companies to address problems of the poor that the companies otherwise would not.

I'd like to see a little less foaming at the mouth in some of these posts and a little more understanding that evil exists all over this world. Attacking universities in a knee-jerk fashion, despite the very minor evils they sometimes may present, is not a very effective way to address it.
That's how the corporate university works. It's because of the licensing of growth hormone by the UC system (human growth hormone is also a UC patent). In the past (before Bayh-Dole in 1980), any company that wanted to use the results of academic research for their business could - but with Bayh-Dole came the exclusive licensing of patents to private industry, for which the UC gets a little cut, as do the professors who created the patent - at taxpayer expense.

This allows corporations to outsource their R&D divisions to the taxpayer.

However, it has also created a perverse culture of academic fraud on campuses all over the place. They're no longer interested in doing any research that might threaten the interests of their corporate masters (hardly a partnership) - for example, you won't find UCSC professors investigating the dangers of Monsanto's rGBH, that's for sure - the administration would frown, as they like getting that kickback from Monsanto.

What's even worse is that the people who are engaged in and support the Bayh-Dole activity are the ones who have been appointed to leadership positions in the UC, where their actions influence all other departments. For example, their used to be a top-notch scientist studying organochlorine pollution in marine mammals at UCSC - Wally Jarman. The UC forced him out - ask anyone who isn't afraid of going against the PR office's gag rule on speaking to the press. This can also be seen in the "environmental" STEPS Institute, set up with a half million grant from a pharmaceutical company.

Funny, it's the same pharmaceutical company that now sports ex-Chancellor MRC Greenwood as a director. That's how the kickbacks work - sell out independent science, get a cushy job on a corporate board. I wonder who else has a plan like that?

It's rotten and it's corrupt and it is a perversion of scientific integrity as well. Our academic system is in need of serious reform. First, Bayh-Dole needs to be overturned - and then all the eager QB3 professors can go get a job in the real world, where tenure doesn't exist, and they can make money like any other businessperson.

Go and ask your professor what their opinion is on Bayh-Dole and exclusively licensed patents created with taxpayer money. Don't expect anything more than a terrified glance, though. The ones who aren't involved in it personally are all afraid of being targeted by the corporate tools in the administration. People will do some very shady things when they think it means personal academic promotion - for these clowns, it's not about science at all - it's about money and power.

by beejar
Saturday Dec 20th, 2008 8:38 PM
This comment refers to kickback article, not tree-sit, but equally applicable.

There are many interesting points in the article worth exploring, however it is inevitable that the people leading the way on the issue are using tactics that will completely destroy the strategy. I suggest expanding your base of support among a diverse group of citizens, then activate the base at key times to pressure appropriate decision makers. It won't happen in a day so keep your cool and don't screw up the potential progress that can be made with a Democrat president and Congress. Nancy Pelosi is the Speaker of the House. There are sympathetic leaders, but the actions you are taking are impossible to support privately and publicly. Keep your cool and be smart. A lot can be accomplished if you think before you act.
by Or are you making it up?
Sunday Dec 21st, 2008 1:33 PM
I can't find one link to confirm your statement that MRC Greenwood is on the board of directors of Monsanto. I can find lists of their board, and she doesn't appear on those lists.

The above combine to make me think your incorrect. Can you post a link to back up your claim?
by careful reader
Sunday Dec 21st, 2008 8:46 PM
Ike did not say the pharmaceutical company that now sports ex-Chancellor MRC Greenwood as a director is Monsanto. Ike wrote "a pharmaceutical company."
by yep
Sunday Dec 21st, 2008 10:12 PM
So the research center going up on the "corpses" of dead redwood trees will benefit the UC system... Good to know!
by thinkItThrough
Monday Dec 22nd, 2008 7:53 PM
Ike's arguments don't add up. As indicated above companies need a guarantee that they are not going to compete in order to develop risky initial discoveries. And they only get the benefit for 17 years. Royalties come to the university, which reinvests it in research and to the faculty, who often do the same. There are exceedingly few faculty who ever "get rich" from royalties, so doing academic research for money and power is a dumb strategy, like hoping to become rich playing basketball. You read about people who do, but you never meet any of them. This so-called lucrative enterprise is an illusion you perpetuate with each retelling. Do a little math and tell me how many of these super-rich and awesomely powerful royalty-fueled faculty brokers of the brave new world you think there are at UCSC, and how many faculty in the same fields are just working joes? You'll be disappointed.

In addition, the public receives the benefits of this kind of research and development agreement and in fact it is a key societal function of the research university. All paranoia about bovine growth hormone, GMOs and pesticides aside, it is clear that these interventions in natural systems have been instrumental in feeding more of the increasing numbers of poor people on the planet for less money. The real problem is that human population has exceeded the carrying capacity of the earth. This was evident long ago (the 50s?), and yet no viable solution has been considered or thought through.

What has been done in the meantime is to increase the carrying capacity of earth in more and more artificial and unsustainable ways. Scientists aren't to blame for wanting to make more food cheaper--it turns out it is easier than solving the real problem of overpopulation. Poor people benefit most from their efforts because when food becomes scarce it becomes expensive. Bovine growth hormone increases the efficiency of milk production and cost reductions are passed on to the public. When food becomes expensive it's the poor people, not the rich people, who starve first. You can add this to the Prop 2 arguments. Prop 2 is great for rich people who can afford food. It isn't so good for the malnourished poor who will priced out once the price of eggs

The axe you are grinding Ike is never going to be sharp. You want to focus on the endpoint analysis. Stop the kind of research that feeds poor people and you may as well just kill them now. You'd be smarter to work on figuring out a politically palatable worldwide solution to the problem of how to control the necessary human depopulation of earth to sustainable levels in a sane, humane way. Starving poor people is the default method you incur by trying to block university research in the public interest. Start focusing on the right problem.

Anyone interested in the topic should begin by reading this book, or perhaps this interview:

"In 1998, the University of California at Berkeley struck a deal with Novartis, a Swiss agricultural-biotechnology firm (now called Syngenta), in which Novartis funded one-third of the research budget of a department within the university’s College of Natural Resources. In exchange, Berkeley gave Novartis exclusive patenting rights to one-third of the discoveries generated from the department and allowed Novartis to occupy 40% of the committee that decides where that research money is allocated."

Now, there's no reason that Novartis can't set up it's own research labs, a la Bell Labs, except that it's expensive to do so. You have to have a building, staff, maintenance - all the overhead costs - plus you need good researchers, who will want to be paid decent salaries. Why do that if you can get an exclusive licensing deal with a large taxpayer funded institution like the UC system?

The argument is that if all UC patents become non-exclusive, i.e. open to use by anyone for a flat fee, then large corporations will not be willing to use them because they won't control the technology. This theme is also seen in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology - the goal isn't to screen for the <i>most effective</i> drugs for diseases, it's to screen for <i>novel</i> drugs for diseases - because only novel drugs can be patented. If it turns out that aspirin and morphine are more effective (ans safe) pain medications than all the new patented opiate analogues (or the Vioxx/Celebrex drugs), then what? All that patented research is useless.

What the PR office at the UC can't seem to understand is the issue of conflict-of-interest involved in public-private partnerships between government (including publicly funded academics) and private interests.

Eliminating Bayh-Dole will simply restore the traditional relationship between academia and industry, which was highly successful in creating the computer industry, for example. Academia provides industry with skilled people, who are trained in cutting-edge research labs that do basic scientific research. Professors will still be able to copyright their books and take sabbaticals to consult professionally - but the dreams of converting exclusive patents into millions of dollars will remain where they belong: in private industry, where there's no tenure.

P.S. The story of the STEPS Institute and MRC Greenwood is intriguing, isn't it? It’s not about Monsanto, however... not directly, anyway.

1. San Jose Mercury News (CA) - April 6, 2002 - 1B Local

The largest outright gift from an alumnus in the history of the University of California-Santa Cruz will be used to help establish an on-campus institute that will tie together environmental research in different disciplines. The $500,000 gift, which does not require a match by the university, from Gordon Ringold and his wife, Tanya Zarucki, will create the STEPS Institute for Innovation in Environmental Research.

2. The connection is the pharmaceutical corporation Maxygen, where MRC is on the board:

<i>"M.R.C. Greenwood, Ph.D., has served as a director since February 1999. Dr. Greenwood has been a professor of nutrition and internal medicine at the University of California (UC), Davis since January 2006. From April 2004 to November 2005, Dr. Greenwood served as Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, UC Office of the President. Before being named Provost, Dr. Greenwood was Chancellor of UC Santa Cruz from July 1996 to March 2004 and Dean of Graduate Studies and Vice Provost at UC Davis from July 1989 to July 1996.</i>

So, what's the problem with that? Well, it's just that the STEPS Institute (for Environmental Research) has very little if any interest in anything related to environmental pollution. There main research areas are :

The effects of climate change
The conservation of biodiversity
Alterations in the earth's water systems

This sounds good... until you notice the lack of interest in anything like pesticide contamination, heavy metal contamination, fuel residue contamination, agricultural water demands... in fact, it's all carefully crafted to be very non-controversial.

Recall the massive fuel oil spill in the San Francisco Bay, recently? There were no UCSC scientists measuring the spread of the spill, the effect on microorganisms, the lifetime of the residues in the sediments, or the net effect on biological communities and fisheries... because they no longer have people who do that kind of detailed analytical work.

They also have an interesting collaborative project with the Environmental Studies folks, on "restoring Sacramento Water flow". The UCSC likes to point reporters to E.S. studies PI Brent Haddad, who has been an advocate of privatizing water supplies since well before his appointment to Environmental Studies, which they may be renaming "The Wise Use Studies Program".

Yes... <a href="">"Rivers of Gold: Designing Markets To Allocate Water In California (2000), by Brent Haddad". That worked well in Bolivia and in Felton, didn't it?

Bayh-Dole has led to a corporate academic culture in which administrative appointments are conditional on one's agreement with the privatization agenda, especially when it comes to public-private partnerships based on corporate control of university patents via exclusive licensing agreements, and the inherent conflicts of interest that such agreements create. The tendency of academics to want to be "on the team" and the hall-of-mirrors interior of the academic institution means that obvious questions go unanswered...

Such as this one: Why, at a time of economic collapse with widespread cutbacks in the biotech industry (Maxygen just cut $90 million and fired 30% of the workforce), is the university insisting on dumping $80 million into a new biotech building, all while raising fees, cutting classes, and continuing to teach students in dilapidated old basement labs in Thimann?
by without much evidence
Wednesday Dec 24th, 2008 10:05 AM
That's leaping to a lot of assumptions.

For example, you say "This sounds good... until you notice the lack of interest in anything like pesticide contamination, heavy metal contamination, fuel residue contamination, agricultural water demands... in fact, it's all carefully crafted to be very non-controversial."

Ummm...since when did studying climate change become non-contraversial? Because they don't cover every topic associated with the environment, you've decided that its all a neferious plot?

Your posting history shows a dislike for the campus, and a penchant for making bold statements without much real data.
(For example: "You are missing the real story re. Palin, as is every other web site on the planet". "and every single media outlet in the United States is lying about it ").

I don't buy your theory.
by T
Thursday Dec 25th, 2008 2:31 AM
Climate change may be a political issue, but just enough to fit with UCSC's 'progressive' image. At the most their research will lead to calls for new legislative action or something like that. It definitely will not come to any conclusions that problematize corporations that 'develop' land, much less the legal apparatus that allows it or any fundamental institutions. It's probably similar to other parts of the university with outside funding, for example the Center for Justice, Tolerance, and Community. They put out some studies, e.g. those by Manuel Pastor about environmental justice, that are political and may even seem radical, but they are almost always limited in their recommendations for action to legislative or public policy changes. These of course ignore the underlying causes of the problems they address, which are deeply rooted in economic and political systems. This is not a conspiracy or some 'nefarious plot', it simply has to do with where the funding comes from.

Public health research has throughout history shown poor health of certain groups compared to others to be the direct result of poverty and marginalization. This relationship surely has implications for what kinds of action are effective. But is a government public health agency going to focus on this or even acknowledge it? Of course not. Doing so would problematize the apparatus of which they are a part, or at least where their money comes from. Research and action of any institution is going to be limited by the interests that control it. This isn't a conspiracy theory, it's common sense.

Anyways, get off of Ike's case... 'Bold statements without any real data'?? I found Ike's post more full of data to back up claims, better researched, more informative than just about any forum post I've seen on Indymedia or anywhere really. Any more information and it would be a book. Also, looking at Ike's posting history? Kinda creepy...
by ThinkItThrough
Thursday Dec 25th, 2008 9:27 AM
Yes, let's not make this about Ike. He's confused about what universities do. They don't implement anything, they do studies, think, and publish ideas. It is up to other elements of society to judge and implement these ideas.

Human organizations are not controlled by individuals. They have emergent properties that individuals do not have, including increased ability to do work, and decreased ability to change their collective mind. I have found from working in universities of different types for a long time that they are not as constrained by the kind of lock-step thinking and influence peddling that occurs inside other organizations. In recent years it is true that due to constantly decreasing public funding, UC has had to look for other ways to fund its activities. Money is one of those facts of life. Since it is obvious that money can influence conclusions, systems have been put in place that ensure that funding sources for particular studies are obvious and that conclusions can be evaluated with that in mind if necessary. It is true that tobacco companies have funded research for example, and that much of this knowledge is valuable in general (eg plant physiology) and that not all of it is contaminated by the source of the funds.

Since the money can be followed, so can the impetus for the work, and the conclusions can be evaluated in that light.

In a world of corruption, let's (again) focus on the right things.
by Scooter
Saturday Dec 27th, 2008 2:38 AM
A lesson in social responsibility would solve all this. Any student who contributes to any research project which benefits any infamous / blacklisted corporation like Monsanto, should have their taxpayer-funded student loans terminated for contributing to crimes against mankind and mother earth.

THINK GLOBALLY WHEN YOU ACT LOCALLY, quit thinking just about yourself and your GPA. There should be no Nuremburg Defense for students helping to poison the Earth, and certainly there should be no public funds contributing to the discovery of new toxic substances! WE HAVE TOO MANY TOXINS ALREADY DONT YOU THINK?!?! UCSC students should demonstrate greater global awareness and boycott these grants!
by Tereza Coraggio
(tereza [at] Monday Dec 29th, 2008 9:38 AM
I do a FRSC radio show called Third Paradigm (linked to Indybay) on taking back our communities, including education. Later in January I'm planning an episode on how the university system serves corporate interests. The area that's come to my attention through is student loans. At first, I didn't know what they were whining about - haven't we always had student loans? But I continued to read testimonials of solid, hard-working graduates who were so mired in debt they see no hope for their future. But what really changed my mind was a book at which I've ordered. The facts on their website indicate that student loans are a predatory lending scam more unregulated than mortgages.

As a parent of HS students, it's absolutely evident that the success of the HS - whether public, charter, or private - is measured by getting kids into college. The materials they're given make loans friendly and normal: "nearly all college students graduate with some debt...the average is $20,000." Even elementary schools are focused on college. Parents are tricked into taking out second mortgages and cosigning loans. Tax incentives convince parents to put college savings into the stock market - benefiting profit and forcing parents to commit the money or face penalties. Corporations match donations to colleges but not to global charities. It all adds up.

I've been in communication with UC's Office of the President about their 10% downsizing. Since these are presumably college graduates, they're demonstrating to prospective students and their parents that there's no job security in a college education. They could instead reduce all salaries and hours by 10% and hire some of the new grads at lower cost. We could, as a county, buy out the student loans as our condition for paying for the bank bail-outs. Then we could radically reduce interest and arrange work-outs that serve the community's interests.

This may seem far afield from your post, Ike, but it confirmed what I'd been suspecting. The professors and research aides are "working Joe's" who are just getting by. That's why a little bit of money for equipment or kick-backs goes such a long way. Because it's discretionary and conditional, it enables corporations to control the bulk of the funding which comes from taxpayers, parents, and indebted students - the tail wags the dog. So thanks for your research and let me know if I can use it.
Blumenthal went on UCSC radio and took calls - see if he'll come on your show, or perhaps you could do an interview with him. It'd be best to get a full statement from the Vice Chancellor for Research, the Vice Provost - call up Prof. David Kliger and Prof. Bernie LeBoeuf and ask them what their opinion of the public-private partnership is.

Even better, go see if UCSC radio will do this, or if the Santa Cruz Sentinel will cover the issue, or maybe the Good Times or the Metro? No - too much university influence for that. You have to go up to a major press outlet like the SF Chronicle:

I wonder if anyone at UCSC took the ethics course? Or try this one:

Talk of limiting UC execs' outside roles
Several top officials on many corporate, nonprofit boards

Tanya Schevitz, Todd Wallack, Chronicle Staff Writers
Wednesday, February 22, 2006

What you have here is mismanagement and corruption, all fueled by the growth of unaccountable public-private partnerships between the University of California and a wide variety of private business interests, from anonymous venture capitalists to the world's largest corporations, such as BP, Dow Chemical, Monsanto and General Electric.

The only real solution is to eliminate Bayh-Dole, which will also have the beneficial result of increasing private investment in patentable research, which is what Thomas Edison did - a strategy which was very successful at Bell Labs as well.
by ThIThr
Wednesday Dec 31st, 2008 3:57 PM
Wow those are some fresh realizations there!

Ike your posts have become tiresome. Your "research" is stale. Two and Three year old links to the SF Comical web archives are not very illuminating. You have also been over this topic on indybay before more than a year ago:

I think there are a small number of people in the UC system who have engaged in some questionable relationships. You may even know a few. You personally may have been burned by one or two, or perhaps you just dropped out of grad school and are bitter. But your attempt to smear the entire effort of UC to research and solve problems of the world and society in a fashion quite disconnected from profit motive is not only incorrect, it's insulting to the vast majority of people doing such work. Your contention that private concerns and industry will focus on these problems and devote funding to them is laughable, and one only need to look at Detroit to see the foolishness of your expectations. Universities are necessary to invent things before they become profitable and thus available to the people. Companies won't do it Ike, not for things that won't make them money. So if you think the public good can only be served by profit motive driven discoveries, go ahead and keep squawking about Bayh-Dole and corporate corruption of universities. Maybe if things go the way you want, we'll get to see how fast the corporate world comes up with publicly beneficial solutions on its own. I'm betting they won't. Ever.
by Tereza Coraggio
(tereza [at] Thursday Jan 1st, 2009 3:34 PM
Last night I was reading Michael Parenti, who writes, "By purchase and persuasion, our institutions of higher learning are wedded to institutions of higher earning...It is also a place where students, out of necessity or choice, mortgage their future to corporate America." I wasn't looking for validation of Ike's point but just reading him because he's doing a fundraiser at Louden for FRSC on Feb. 4th. I won't quote all of his salient points on the topic, but some of the sources I underlined to check out include David Smith's Who Rules the Universities?; John Trumpbour, How Harvard Rules: Reason in the Service of Empire; White and Hauck, Campus, Inc.; and Joel Spring's Education and the Rise of the Corporate State. The latter particularly interests me because it looks at the ideological conformity starting in primary and secondary schools. As a parent, I see the schools pushing kids towards the Holy Grail of the university system, running the gauntlet of the SAT's, and seeking the approval of the sainted few. The teachers themselves would love to have strong-minded students who think, at least some teachers, but students and parents are either college-motivated or not motivated at all.

It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few years as it becomes evident that college doesn't buy job security. By next Sept., I'd predict a 10% decline in freshman enrollment. I think the university system is either going to transform or implode.
by ThinkItThrough
Friday Jan 2nd, 2009 11:12 AM
Your concerns are interesting and important Tereza. It may help to keep in mind that there are different classes of institutions, and also there are different reasons why students go to college besides to train for a vocation. On the institutional side there are public institutions and private institutions. One thing you can always say about the public ones that has been true for at least the last 40 years is that their funding always goes down. This has made many public institutions push to find other ways to keep their tuition and fees from rising. Private institutions charge individual students A LOT more money, and have to do all sorts of other fundraising. So private institutions are by their nature more corporate than their public counterparts. Private institutions are also much less transparent and autocratic, and often what transparency they do have is mandated as a condition of their receiving federal grants for research.

UC is a mix, and is becoming more mixed as state funding goes down. This is true for all state universities across the country. Fees go up, quality goes down or more money is found. Even different campuses of UC are different. The so-called "flagship" campuses Berkeley and UCLA are much more corporate and obtain far more alumni donations and corporate agreements than UC Santa Cruz for a variety of reasons, and they get to keep those dollars for themselves. The size and focus of the institution also matters. For example there are "Research Universities", "Comprehensive undergraduate institutions", "Small liberal arts colleges" and so on. All UC campuses are research universities. The Cal State system is composed mostly of comprehensive undergraduate institutions.

These different institutions provide distinct opportunities and educational styles, as well as costs. Many students go to research universities because the faculty there are also leading scholars in their fields, and they get exposure and sometimes direct experience with the latest methods and ideas in a field the student may be passionate about. Often students have high expectations for faculty contact that aren't realized, primarily because the faculty are also highly engaged in their own research (we heard Ike complaining about this). For a segment of motivated students this can be a great educational experience. At non-research intensive colleges, there can be research opportunities, but most of the faculty will not be highly engaged in research and devote more time to their teaching. So the teaching may feel more attentive, but it may not be the latest and may not be delivered by experts who can convey the nuances. Still this kind of experience is just perfect for some students. (I also worry that many of the books published about the "state of the university" are really talking about Harvard, which is not a typical university. But when something happens at or to Harvard, it becomes a sensational trend, despite its irrelevance for most other universities and colleges.) Still other students go to certain colleges because of the football team, the brand identity, because that's where their parents went, etc etc. You want corporate connections? Check the schools with big football programs!

The shift from K-12 education to "higher education" is not straightforward for students or their parents. First the student is expected to take on far more responsibility, and second the determination of "success" is more vague and less formalized, certainly there are no real standardized tests that are generally useful to determine whether a student got an education. So there is much less "teaching to the test." Some people might think that whether or not you can get a job when you graduate is a test of whether you got a good education. Certainly going to Stanford can help with that impression, because people like to hire Stanford grads, whether they actually became educated there or not. Because there is no universally defined measure of the quality of an education for any one individual, the kind of lock step indoctrination that occurs at the K-12 level is less of a problem, but the increased responsibility for their own education can be a problem for some students.

I'm hearing an assumption in your post as well that most students go to college to ensure future job security. I am not sure that is true, but it certainly is true that there are lots of students in college who don't belong there, and others who might belong but are just kind of sticking it out, etc etc. When you capture any group of 18-22 year olds, you will capture a very uncertain group who will express their passionate certainty about things with great bravado. Some of them have big dreams and very specific plans, whereas others have no plan whatsoever, or are going through the motion of their parents plans for them without much interest or joy. This sort of activity defies categorization, and I would argue that colleges and universities are just the place for the self discovery required for young adults. Yes, this may sound like a dodge when the real problem is going to be finding work once you graduate, but I would argue that being passionate about what you do is a good thing, and before accepting a job you hate just for the money, it is good to figure out what you love, in case you can find a job you really care about. So in that sense, the university is supposed to do that, and there will probably always be a market for that, even at schools without a football team.

The issue of student loans is a problem. Considering costs of the education you want relative to what you will get in terms of future employment is dangerous given the above issue because what if you fall in love with something that pays poorly? Also students need to eat and sleep somewhere for four years, and of course they would need to do that whether they are at college or not. As with every loan, it is critical to do the research and read the fine print. Planning to pay it back without defaulting is also a nice sentiment. I am not sure that deciding against college because of current and recent abuses of the loan system is a good long term plan. Education is a life investment, and the cost of a loan now may pay dividends in terms of self awareness, identity, happiness, peace, contribution to the public good, and all kind of good things over the life of the person. If we stop investing in ourselves, things are going to be much worse.
(likroper [at] Saturday Jan 3rd, 2009 5:17 AM
No, actually I was never involved in pharmaceutical or medical device research, rather ocean science and photosynthesis-related biochemistry - not very patentable, in the sense that a practical photochemical device might be. The problems with the current administration and the highly questionable public-private partnerships such as QB3 are many - here are five of them:

* First of all, they draw resources away from basic scientific research and undergraduate and graduate education. Resources are instead invested in labs for professors who engage in proprietary research, leading to a skewed and unclear set of priorities on the part of administrators.

* Secondly, the university is not good at business investment or at creating new industries. In the growth of Silicon Valley, local universities did not attempt to patent and control the industry - they left that to the likes of Apple and HP, and they provided highly trained PEOPLE for the industry, while continuing to make advances in basic science - advances that eventually became applied science. Private corporations should be investing in their own applied science, which they can patent and profit from - again, that's the Bell Labs model, which gave us the computer chip, the silicon solar panel, and much else besides.

* Thirdly, the students in general are getting a much poorer education as a result, with higher tuition fees piled on top, leading to a ridiculous debt load for most college graduates. Indeed, the student loan market has a lot in common with the subprime loan market - and all that for a reduced educational experience, across the board. You really get the feeling that the administration and the entrepreneurs are fleecing the students to finance their own ventures.

* Fourthly, a lot of this is about ideological fixation left over from the "Reagan Revolution", which included Bayh-Dole (1980), touted at the time as a centerpiece of the privatization program. Almost three decades of ideological fixation on privatization of public institutions has resulted in the current situation - poor but expensive education. What you've got now is an entrenched administrative structure that views their patent-based collaborations with private industry as the heart of the university mission. This kind of political-ideological fixation in science has indeed been seen before, in the Soviet system under Lysenko (condemnation of genetic science as anti-revolutionary), and in the 1930s in Germany as well ("Aryan science" and eugenics).

In science, any kind of ideology is dangerous - and the corporate free-market ideology has the same problems as the previous ones. Take the Soviet-Nazi debate over genetics: in reality we know now that adult characteristics are due to BOTH the genes inherited from one's ancestors AND the environmental conditions one encounters from the point of conception onwards. We know that BOTH of these factors play a role in cancer, for example, as well as in many other diseases.

However, if we have Monsanto providing the university with $100 million every few years via bovine growth hormone sales, is the university really going to be interested in investigating the environmental factors in cancer? The role of estrogen mimics in food products in the development of cancer and other abnormalities? Do you expect Monsanto's CEO to go to the shareholders and tell them they're going to stop selling one of their more lucrative products due to health concerns? Will Monsanto be lobbying for more research into such issues, or will they be lobbying for less? How about Dupont or Dow Chemical?

We just had a situation where the major pharmaceuticals lobbied the FDA for two years to keep the pain medications Vioxx and Celebrex on the market, even though there was clear evidence that the drugs caused heart damage. We can't trust pharmaceutical companies to regulate themselves, and the fact of the matter is that the UC is behaving more like a pharmaceutical company than like a public institution. Their ideological viewpoint is that of the FDA and SEC: private industry should be unregulated.

This is of course a disaster, as the unregulated Chinese food & toy markets and the unregulated credit markets have shown - but the idee fixe is hard to break.

* Fifthly, this is hardly an original observation on my part, as it has been noted by many scientists all around the world. For example, see Nature Magazine, 2001
"Is the university–industrial complex out of control?"

Here is a quote from Washburn's University Inc. that may help:

"Since the early 1980s, industry collaborations with universities have grown so extensive that Berkeley's own emeritus chancellor, Clark Kerr . . . himself spoke out publicly about the commercial threat to academic life just prior to his death in December 2003. "In the 1960s," Kerr wrote, "I was concerned too much of the "evaluative role" of the university was aimed more at destruction that at reform and made more use of compulsion than of persuasion. Now I think there is more of a threat to 'independent' appraisals aimed at improving public welfare as against adding to private profit..."

Washburn interviewed Kerr (I believe the current UCSC Administration inhabits Kerr Hall, right?):

"With public support for higher education diminishing, he explained, "lots of faculty members and administrators are seeing advantages in getting extra money from private industry, and they may be willing to make concessions which from their own point of view are quite all right, but which are bad for the university." He was particularly worried that a "money-making group on the inside" and a "for-profit group on the outside" could collude to undermine the university's mission. "The university ought to remain a neutral agency devoted to the public welfare, not to private welfare."

That's because the university is a taxpayer-funded institution - and if professors and administrators want to play at being start-up entrepreneurs and corporate directors, they should leave the university and do so out in the real world - why on earth should the taxpayer support such playboy lifestyles?
by clued out
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 4:16 PM
Yeah I see those playboy professors up at UCSC all the time, parking their dang Bentleys wherever they want, wearing those silk ascots and oogling all the gyrls while sipping cocktails you've never even heard of. It's a cryin' shame.

Also that post has some serious confusion about hormones in it. Bovine growth hormone is totally different from estrogen. It is a protein and estrogen is a steroid. It is true that birth control pills (and other drugs) should not be flushed into the environment as scientific studies have shown they are not efficiently broken down by sewage treatment and can end up in the environment where they cause problems for animal reproduction. But bovine growth hormone is easily destroyed outside the body and has zero persistence in the external environment.
by The Observer
Friday Jan 16th, 2009 3:57 PM "VoiceOfSatan"
by You're confused
Saturday Jan 17th, 2009 9:58 AM
Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name.
But what's puzzling you is the nature of my game.