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UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health is launching an initiative aimed at safely facilitating the reopening of campus in fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic, campus announced May 19.
A team led by Arthur Reingold, campus division head of epidemiology and biostatistics, and Maya Petersen, a campus associate professor of biostatistics and epidemiology, is set to collaborate on the Berkeley COVID-19 Safe Campus Initiative with University Health Services; the campus Division of Computing, Data Science and Society, or CDSS; the Innovative Genomics Institute; and local public health authorities to establish a system of measuring infection rates and developing mitigation strategies on campus.
The initiative, which began development in March under the direction of UC Berkeley School of Public Health Dean Michael Lu, initially focused on resuming campus public health research operations but has since expanded to study others at risk of infection in the campus community, including clinic and janitorial staff, Reingold said.
According to Reingold, the initiative will consist of linked studies focusing on three groups, including undergraduate students and staff, as well as another group consisting of faculty members, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and other researchers.
Current plans project the enrollment of approximately 4,000 individuals in the studies, Reingold said. He added that the initiative found particular interest among studying undergraduate students, especially those living in Alameda and Contra Costa counties for summer 2020.
Reingold said the initiative is awaiting approval from the UC Berkeley Committee for Protection of Human Subjects in order to begin the studies’ recruitment process. Approval and subsequent recruitment is expected to occur by the end of next week and will hinge on voluntary participation in the studies, according to Reingold. Once enrolled, participants will undergo regular medical monitoring, including a blood test for antibodies.
“(Participants) would be additionally enrolled at University Health Service facilities, where we would take a swab to test for the coronavirus,” Reingold said. “The next few months, we would ask them to do things like take their temperatures each morning, report to us about symptoms, (and) we would gather information about some of their social interactions.”
Reingold added that the initiative is centered on close collaboration among members of the campus community, including Vice Chancellor for Research Randy Katz and his office, Cal Athletics and campus programs working extensively with undergraduates and summer undergraduate housing.
The initiative will also focus on a multidisciplinary approach, with communication and research being coordinated among various partners, including graduate students and staff.
“We’re particularly proud of the fact that this is truly a multidisciplinary activity involving incredibly diverse parts of the campus,” Reingold said.
CDSS is working to provide reliable data for the initiative and centering its efforts around connecting people across campus, according to CDSS Associate Dean for Research Kathy Yelick.
Results of the initiative and the concurrent summer studies are expected to inform the outcome of fall semester, according to University Health Services Assistant Vice Chancellor Guy Nicolette.
Nicolette added that the initiative’s COVID-19 testing and tracing plan is necessary in shaping campus operations, including whether in-person classroom instruction and residence hall living, as well as staff and faculty operations, can resume.
“We are hopeful that the work being led by School of Public Health researchers will inform our recovery planning and ultimately underpin our successful return to campus,” Nicolette said in an email.
Source: Hanna Lykke
A student checks his cellphone at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus in this photo from February.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
The University of California Board of Regents’ unanimous vote last week to stop requiring admission seekers to take the SAT or ACT and seek to have UC come up with its own test by fall 2025 was a landmark moment. It’s the biggest triumph yet for those who argue these standardized tests are either biased against poor families who can’t afford test prep classes or racist or both.
The disadvantages that standardized tests create for minorities are a common theme of those in the progressive community who believe white privilege or the lack of it is a dominant factor in determining whether people lead successful lives.
But while there are powerful reasons to believe that white privilege helps those who are borne into prosperous families that haven’t had to fight generations of structural racism, the enrollment numbers at UC’s 10 campuses don’t reflect this. This is why UC’s decision to break with historic norms is potentially a much bigger deal than it may now seem.
The college admissions process is essentially a zero-sum game. If one group gets more admissions, it is at the cost of another group.
And there is only one group that is far overrepresented in the UC system as a percentage of state population and K-12 enrollment, and it’s not whites. It’s Asian Americans, who have much better test scores and GPAs than any other race or ethnic group. And there is only one group that is far underrepresented: Hispanic Americans.
According to a 2019 Census Bureau estimate and official state statistics from 2019, Asian Americans made up 15.3% of the state population and 9.3% of K-12 students but were 33.5% of UC’s total 226,125 undergraduate students. Hispanic Americans were 39.3% of the state population and 54.6% of K-12 students but made up 24.8% of UC undergrads. White Americans were 36.8% of the state population and 22.9% of K-12 students but made up 21.4% of UC undergrads. African Americans were 6.5% of the state population and 5.4% of K-12 students but made up 4.1% of UC undergrads. These numbers don’t include any of the 29,754 international undergrads, who were primarily Asian nationals.
So when UC President Janet Napolitano, UC Board of Regents Chair John A. Pérez and campus officials bemoan the lack of diversity in their student bodies, most people translate that as too many whites and not enough Hispanics and African Americans. But what they are actually griping about is an admission process in which Asian American students — 1/11th of the K-12 cohort — get 1/3 of UC undergrad spots, and Hispanic students — more than half of K-12 enrollees — are 1/4 of UC undergrads.
Given Proposition 209, the 1996 ballot measure that banned affirmative action in state agencies, the UC admissions issue couldn’t be more fraught.
Yet it’s hardly a leap to wonder if UC will seek an admissions process like those seen at Harvard and other prestigious private colleges that effectively caps Asian American enrollment at about 20%. Last October, a federal judge ruled that Harvard’s policy was acceptable under the U.S. Constitution.
If UC does something alone those lines while somehow skirting Proposition 209, the fallout could be broad.
Would the perception that Hispanic students were getting in ahead of Asians with better high school records fracture the multicultural coalition that has been a dominant force in California and other blue states? In 2018, Vox writer Alvin Chang implored his fellow Asian Americans not to think this way because white conservatives with ugly motives — including the Trump administration’s Justice Department — were using this argument to try to dismantle affirmative action for historically disadvantaged groups. Don’t be “racial mascots,” Chang wrote
But what happened in the California Legislature in 2014 suggests that many Asian Americans don’t see espousing concerns about bias in college admission as about helping white conservatives win their mean-spirited crusade. They see it as about protecting their kids. Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, proposed an amendment to the California Constitution that would have scrapped Proposition 209. The proposal died after state Sens. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, Carol Liu, D-La Cañada Flintridge, and Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, came out against it after being lobbied by Asian American groups who warned the amendment would hurt Asian students.
If UC’s changes in admissions come to be seen as a subtle way to achieve Hernandez’s goal, these same groups will come out in force.
And if you think tribalism in California couldn’t get any more acute than it already is, watch out. There could soon be a new front in the culture wars.
Source: Chris Reed