Occupy Berkeley

This afternoon I went down to the campus protest rally (part of the strike called for today to demand increased funding for higher education in California).  It so far has scored only one helicopter, and that since I left.  Everyone was there: the drum and dancing group, the “Free Leonard Peltier” people, some really mysterious setups including a large wagon wheel made, and nicely, of corrugated cardboard, labeled “Karma”. I may have some reflections on the current protests later, but it was in any case nice to see profs, students, the occasional bemused dog cadging ear scruggles, and the usual Berkeley types marching to their own drummers, some quite oddly measured and far away, all on a beautiful sunny day.

Well, almost everyone.  I asked some people, “where are the athletes?”  Nobody knew; someone said the coaches tell them not to demonstrate, but that’s impossible. As we know, intercollegiate sports teaches teamwork, selfless commitment to the community, sacrifice, and courage, and as we furthermore know, our sports teams are the public face of our university. And the coaches are the mentors of citizenship and responsibility for their charges.  So I do not understand why the 850 of them, who are quite nicely cared for and do not pay any of the skyrocketing tuition crushing the other 20,000 students who occasionally get to watch them play, were not out, in uniform, marching for one or another version of justice and showing solidarity with the institution whose glory they advance, or maybe even providing disciplined, calm security.

It’s a mystery.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

22 thoughts on “Occupy Berkeley”

  1. I’m a swimmer. I was on Sproul. I’m marching downtown now.

    Maybe you don’t know what we look like?

      1. I’m not sure about the swim team, but wouldn’t it generally be inappropriate for athletes to show up in uniform? That could be taken to suggest that the University, or at least the athletic department, endorsed whatever to protest was about.

  2. My guess is, they don’t want to lose their scholarships, so they don’t wear their uniforms. Before last week, I wouldn’t have thought that would be a problem at Cal but now I’m not so sure.

    But it was a nice thought you had.

  3. The non-revenue sports at Cal have taken a major hit due to the budget crisis. Maybe you didn’t know, as your “850 of them” figure is pre-cuts:

    “In September [2010], UC Berkeley announced the elimination of five intercollegiate sports teams including baseball, women’s lacrosse and men’s and women’s gymnastics. Men’s rugby was demoted to a varsity club sport… The men’s rugby team has participated in 25 National Collegiate Rugby Championships since 1980 and is by far the most successful intercollegiate sports team at UC Berkeley…”


  4. It is against school athletic policy to wear your uniform on television without having it approved by the athletic department first. You cannot be interviewed with your team gear on and you are wrong, especially with the violence the athletes have been requested to keep their distance.

  5. this is ridiculous – not all athletes are on scholarships, and even the one’s that are often don’t have their whole tuition covered. i am a rower here and i pay full tuition, in fact many of my teammates do the same. many of us don’t get scholarships because money is tight and we have had our budgets cut drastically by the university; in fact, we hardly get gear because of the size of our team and the expenses involved. i’d say at best 1/5 of our team is on scholarship, and that’s stretching it. almost all of the out of state students on my team pay full tuition, as expensive as it is. i was on sproul that night as well, and i know other teammates who were there as well. before you make ignorant accusations and formulate ill-based opinions on topics you consider yourself an expert on, i would recommend you do real research first. perhaps talk to an actual athlete. not to be a dick here (for lack of a better word), but blaring uneducated opinions over the internet tends to piss people off. just fyi

  6. Mr. O’Hare, there is clearly much lacking in your understanding of what it means to be a student-athlete at Cal. Like many of the comments above have pointed out, only a small number of athletes at Cal are completely provided for. Full scholarship is something granted to a fraction of each team – the rest of the athletes have to both provide for themselves or take the same routes of grants and loans as other students struggling to pay for their education. They will be just as affected by “skyrocketing tuition” as anyone else at this school.

    But there is something else – something that sets the situation of a student-athlete apart from the situation of other students at Cal. Many of those that participate in sports at this school do so because it was the only way for them to be accepted at Cal because of lack of educational and financial support from wherever they are from. Being an athlete is the way in which they arrive at being a student. Athletics are a means to a well educated end for the majority of Cal student-athletes. They dedicate not only their minds, but their entire physical being to their lives at Cal. This means that every moment of a student-athlete’s day that isn’t spent at practice is precious because it represents a time for academics. They cannot afford to give up time that could otherwise go to their studies in order to compete with the other students who can spend as much time as they need studying.

    So, do not vilify the people who dedicate their entire existence to their academic and athletic contributions to this school. Instead, question the absence of the 20,000 other students who have free time on their hands. Take a moment to ask them, “Where were you?”

  7. They were not there because they do not have free time to spare. they have to go to practice,weights,conditioning, team meetings and after all this there is no energy left for class and homework.What do normal student have to worry about? Homework and class that is it.Oh wait they might be part of a club like a dance team that is already practicing on sproul.Real serious and demanding stuff.Before you make claims like that get your facts straight,liberal duche.

    1. Hey hey hey. I think semory wasn’t referring to just athletes when they said “other students who have free time on their hands.” It is not necessary to succomb to Michael O’Hare’s level. I saw all different types of people at the rally, atheletes, non-athletes, non-students for that matter. A “normal student” works just as hard. Just because they aren’t practicing for sports doesn’t mean they have free time. Some students don’t have the opportunity to play a sport because they are working two jobs to fund their education. We all love this school. We all have our ties to it- sports, clubs, jobs, academics, everything we get to do here makes it our campus and I don’t want to give up anything that I love about Cal. We are all together in solidarity- whether we are on sproul rallying or at work trying to catch the live feed. We are fighting for our resources, for ourselves, and for future students.

  8. Dear Professor O’Hare,
    You should be ashamed of yourself. You’re a professor and as a student I’d like to think our professors would be the last people to spout ideas that are uneducated and ignorant.

    “So I do not understand why the 850 of them, who are quite nicely cared for and do not pay any of the skyrocketing tuition crushing the other 20,000 students who occasionally get to watch them play”

    ….I’m sorry but ARE YOU HIGH?! “do not pay any of the skyrocketing tuition” Where did you get this data? Not every Cal athlete is on scholarship, many of my old teammates pay their own tuition and suffer the same “skyrocketing tuition” as the average Joe. Many individuals who are considered “scholarship athletes” have only a book scholarship, for which they are thankful but it is by no means a full, half, or even quarter scholarship and they therefore face the skyrocketing tuition as well.

    Shame on you.

  9. I am also a current athlete here at Cal and I was at the protests three times throughout the day. It made me proud to see all the students, professors, and many other athletes out on Sproul. However, the one thing I noticed on Sproul was that not everyone had labels saying what they were. Professors didn’t have signs saying “We are professors”, dancers didn’t have signs that say “We are dancers”, tutors didn’t have signs saying “We are tutors”. The only signs I saw were labeling Berkeley Law, English, and ESPM and last I checked there are athletes in these departments. They may have been mixed in the rest of the protestors for all you know.

    If it makes you happy perhaps we could introduce a bill to the ASUC that states that all athletes must be labeled as athletes whenever they are on campus. Maybe we can add that all math majors should be labeled all the time and also that all professors should be labeled. Maybe this would make your spotting of the invisible athletes easier.

    As you said in your post you were there and “so far has scored only one helicopter” and then you left. Seems like if you stuck around for more than 5 minutes yourself you would have gotten a better idea of who was actually at the protest. You were probably too busy covering up your Zodiac killings to stay any longer. And just the same, many athletes had to be at mandatory practice, film, or conditioning.

    Check your facts next time Mr. O’Hare. As a professor of public policy at the best public school in the nation, it’s probably not in your best interests to look this ignorant.

  10. Prof. O’Hare. I think this comment is extremely insulting and not very well thought out. What do you look for when you look for an athlete? If you aren’t looking for students of all shapes and sizes, gender and race, dressed in everything from cal gear to cut of jean shorts and a T shirt, then you are missing the vast majority of us. Also, the majority of us do not get full rides. I myself am not getting a penny from the school. I’m shocked with how many people, including our own professors apparently, know so little about the how the world of college athletics really works.
    Everyone on my team has been to at least on of the protests and many have been to almost all of the events of the past two weeks. As a professor of a University that prides itself in its diversity and open mindedness, I would hope that you would not be so quick to make generalizations and assumptions about student athletes. Have you ever talked to one, got to see what they were really like, how bright and hard working they are? My guess would be that you would be surprised by how many of us are just as smart and hardworking as any of the other students in your classes. I beg you to be more open minded.

    STUDENT athlete

  11. I am not sure why you found it necessary to write such half-truths. Maybe to provoke thought among the students? Just to set the record straight my daughter a student athlete like most of the girls on her team is not on a “full ride”. As a UC employee I am familiar with the budget cuts and limited resources. However, I noticed I earn about half of your 2010 salary of $160,000. Do you think my family isn’t concerned about the increase in tuition? Have you thought about the students who cannot afford to miss work to attend these rallies? Are they bad people too? This is not a problem created by the student athlete; it was caused by the citizens of California who stand by while our politicians ruin our public education system. You should focus your negative thoughts on the people who make these bad decisions not those that are left to deal with them.

Comments are closed.