Monday, August 05, 2013

UC Motto Should Be: Where's Mine?

John Pike -- the University of California, Davis police lieutenant whom the university fired for pepper spraying Occupy protesters Nov. 18, 2011 -- has filed a workers' compensation claim based on a "psychiatric injury." UC should change its motto from "Fiat lux" ("Let there be light") to "Fiat meum" ("Where's mine?").
The protesters got theirs when they sued the University of Deep Pockets.

Ironically, they were protesting rising tuition while telling themselves they were underdogs who courageously stood up to authority. Please, their demands for more state money were in perfect harmony with the aspirations of UC brass. Protesters set up camp and linked arms -- illegally blocking egress on public space -- because that's what they had to do to get arrested.

Pike warned protesters that if they didn't move, officers would pepper spray them. For about 30 seconds captured on video, Pike and another officer took turns spraying the chemical irritant on protesters' faces before removing them from the quad. Eleven students were treated for side effects; two were hospitalized.

UC brass launched three investigations on top of two Yolo County probes. That's five investigations for an incident memorialized on video. A task force headed by former state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso intoned that the incident "should and could have been prevented." Those probes cost UC about $1 million.

The Yolo County district attorney noted that officers may use pepper spray when they encounter "active" resistance, but Pike's conduct "was not objectively reasonable," even if officers believed they were surrounded by a hostile mob. The DA also said there was insufficient evidence to warrant criminal charges. By then, UC Davis had fired Pike.

Eventually, the American Civil Liberties Union and 21 students won a $1 million settlement, which awarded $30,000 per student plaintiff, $250,000 to the ACLU and $100,000 to other claimants. The deal also required that the university assist students so traumatized that their academic performance was harmed.

Now, apparently, it's the cop's turn.  I have a lot of sympathy for Pike. Chancellor Linda Katehi told campus police to remove the tents and then distanced herself from the raid. According to one probe, Pike challenged the legality of the administration's order to remove tents during the day.

After the pepper spray video went viral, the "hacktivist" group Anonymous publicized Pike's phone number and home address. According to his union, Pike became the recipient of 17,000 angry or threatening emails and unwanted magazines and food deliveries, which forced Pike to move his family and change his phone number.

Also, Pike's notoriety lessens the likelihood that the former Marine sergeant and Sacramento cop will work in law enforcement again.

That said, Pike earned a pretty penny -- $110,243 in 2010 -- as a campus cop. The school suspended him for eight months with pay before firing him.

If Pike wanted to sue for wrongful termination, I'd understand. But workers' comp? That puts him on a par with students so traumatized by seconds of being pepper sprayed that they blew a semester.

Maybe Pike figured that if students breaking the law to protest rising tuition can cash in, so can the officer whose main crime was thinking that campus cops are supposed to enforce the law.


Britain: Lessons in spelling 'have no place in 21st century schools'

Schools should stop providing lessons in spelling and grammar because children can correct linguistic errors on their mobile phones, according to a leading academic.  Traditional classes in English language are a “bit unnecessary” at a time when pupils have so much access to state-of-the-art technology, it is claimed.

Sugata Mitra, professor of educational technology at Newcastle University, said good spelling and grammar was necessary “maybe a hundred years ago” but "not right now".

He insisted that children should be encouraged to express themselves in a number of different ways – including using mobile phone text messaging – rather than relying on established linguistic rules.

The comments come despite a new drive by the [British] Government to promote the basics of English language throughout compulsory education.  Under new plans, a revised national curriculum is being introduced that requires pupils to accurately spell 200 complex words by the end of primary school.

For the first time this year, 11-year-olds in England have also been required to sit a new exam in spelling, punctuation and grammar.

In a further move, pupils have been told they will have points docked in GCSE exams for failing to use accurate English in their written answers.

But Prof Mitra, who recently won the prestigious $1m TED Prize to develop a generation of “cloud schools” where children learn from each other, said it was a mistake to resist technological change.

In an interview with the Times Educational Supplement, he said: “This emphasis on grammar and spelling, I find it a bit unnecessary because they are skills that were very essential maybe a hundred years ago but they are not right now.

“Firstly, my phone corrects my spelling so I don’t really need to think about it and, secondly, because I often skip grammar and write in a cryptic way.”

He added: “Should [students] learn how to write good sentences? Yes, of course they should. They should learn how to convey emotion and meaning through writing.

“But we have perhaps a mistaken notion that the way in which we write is the right way and that the way in which young people write through their SMS texting language is not the right way.

“If there is a generation who believe that SMS language is a better way of expressing emotion than our way, then are we absolutely sure that they are making a mistake and we are not?”

But Joe Walsh, co-director of the National Association for the Teaching of English, criticised the approach.

“The skills of using grammar effectively in the context of writing and spelling accurately are just as relevant today as they were a hundred years ago,” he told the TES. “Electronic devices can suggest alternatives but they cannot think for you.”


Australia:  A Queensland university accused of spying on student whistleblower who made claims of research misconduct

A nasty little tale of crookedness and attempted coverup.  The VC of QUT is Peter Coaldrake, a Leftist bureaucrat rather than an academic, so putting the organization first is to be expected of him.  He has a track record of suppressing dissent to protect his organization

QUT has been accused of "spying" on a student whistleblower whose allegations of research misconduct have caused a scandal involving the university's vice-chancellor, the Federal Government and the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

Life sciences postgraduate student Luke Cormack, 30, attended counselling sessions organised by QUT after last year presenting allegations of apparent falsification of research in a scientific paper by some lab colleagues.

Mr Cormack claims that at the second one-on-one session in April 2012, the counsellor admitted he had been briefing QUT's Registrar's office on their meetings.

"I went in there with the impression that my meeting with him was confidential," Mr Cormack told The Courier-Mail.

He said that at the second session, he had told the counsellor he was writing to the editor of the journal that had published the paper to alert him to the alleged problems.

"It was then that I asked him if our meeting was confidential," Mr Cormack said.

"He said 'no'.  "He told me, 'Based on the nature of your concerns I've had to report this to the Registrar's office. However, if there's something that you don't want me to say, then you can tell me'.  "I was just shocked. I had told him everything about my situation."

Mr Cormack's complaint prompted an internal inquiry, which found "inadvertent" errors acknowledged by the researchers but cleared them of misconduct. The CMC accepted that finding.

But the US journal that published the paper in 2010 retracted it this year.

The National Health and Medical Research Council, the federal agency that provided a $275,000 grant to the research team, this week declared it was not satisfied with QUT's handling of an investigation into how the grant was obtained.

The agency said it wanted to bring in the Australian Research Integrity Committee, a body set up in 2011 to ensure research misconduct is investigated properly, to review the procedures used by QUT.

The NHMRC is also investigating a separate allegation of "one purposeful exaggeration" of data that is not part of the QUT inquiry.

The Courier-Mail has put Mr Cormack's allegations to QUT.

University Registrar Shard Lorenzo said: "The University does not provide information on matters relating to individual students."


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