Media

UC Berkeley reverses plans to shut down Institute for the Study of Societal Issues

January 20th, 2021

"Over the course of the last seven months, ISSI community members, as well as supporters of the program, have been vocal in preserving the values of ISSI to not only UC Berkeley but society in general, according to Lustig. ISSI was able to garner more than 1,300 signatures from supporters.

In support of the goals that ISSI upholds, UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ plans to establish a task force focusing on social justice research, according to a message sent by Linda Rugg, campus associate vice chancellor for research, to members of the ISSI community. The task force will help make recommendations needed to support those who wish to pursue research in this particular field, whether that be faculty, students or staff."

Read the article here.

UC Berkeley reverses course and will not close institute helping students of color

January 18th, 2021

"Following an outcry, UC Berkeley is reversing its plan to disband a campus institute that for four decades has served as a pipeline into the social sciences for students of color and has lifted them into the highest echelons of academia.

The Chronicle reported in December that the university planned to dismantle the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, which supports mainly Black and Latino students earning doctorates in the social sciences. About 220 students have gone through ISSI since 1976 and have gone on to teach at dozens of leading universities, including Harvard, Morehouse College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The institute was to close at the end of the current semester.

The Chronicle article “brought the situation to the attention of some powerful faculty members (and others) who had not been aware and who started advocating on our behalf,” said Deborah Freedman Lustig, associate director of the institute, who added that ISSI received offers of financial help and was “inundated with emails of support.”"

Read the article here. You can also read a pdf of the article here.

San Francisco Chronicle

UC Berkeley shutting down rare pipeline for doctorates of color. Its supporters are fighting back

December 26, 2020

"For decades, the ISSI at UC Berkeley has served as a pipeline into the social sciences — sociology, psychology, anthropology, public health, ethnic studies, criminal justice and more — particularly for people of color. ... With the [ISSI] centers housed together, the institute achieves a goal that has eluded educators at every level for generations: closing the academic gap between haves and have-nots."

Read the article online here. You can also read a pdf of the article here.

ISSI, home to generations of Berkeley scholars of color, faces likely closing in June next year

October 24th, 2020

"Since the ISSI closing was announced in June, the move has been widely criticized by students, alumni, community members and faculty.

'ISSI is a critical part of the legacy of anti-racist research and practice on campus,' said Dr. Denise Herd, associate professor of public health at UC Berkeley.

'The campus is being called upon to make meaningful and bold statements to become an anti-racist institution,” said Dr. Denise Herd, associate professor of public health at UC Berkeley. “ISSI is a critical part of the legacy of anti-racist research and practice on campus, and to close it down now sends the wrong message.” More than 25 chairs and directors of other institutes on campus are among those speaking in support of keeping the institute, citing the potential harm the shutdown will cause many students, and specifically Black students. Dr. Lawrence Rosenthal, chair of the Center for Right-Wing Studies, said the ISSI closing is 'indicative of a larger pattern of universities on one hand rushing to form committees and issue statements in support of Black Lives Matter, while in this case, on the other hand, actually taking action that diminishes campus resources dedicated to racial justice.'"

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UC Berkeley students, faculty, alumni fight closing of Institute for the Study of Societal Issues

October 21st, 2020

"'ISSI staff and programming provided me with a rare combination of mentorship, training, and vital financial resources all at the same time,' said ISSI alumna Miriam Solis in an email. 'More importantly, ISSI was a community.'

Solis, who had her first child during her time at ISSI, said the institute became the only place where she could 'meaningfully connect' with other women who were mothers and faculty hopefuls. Naniette Coleman, an ISSI graduate student in residence, said the program provides a vital shelter for underrepresented students and faculty on campus."

Read the article here.

Berkeley Social-Justice Institute to Be Shuttered, but Not Without a Fight

October 11th, 2020

"'The promise to house ISSI’s projects in various other places on campus is not a solution,' [Martín] Sánchez-Jankowski said. 'It won’t be the same program, because they don’t understand that it’s not about something you institutionalize. It’s a place — a social space that was provided and social support that was provided — that was special,' he said.

Sánchez-Jankowski sees a troubling racial subtext in the decision to close the ISSI. 'Berkeley is in an economic crisis because of Covid and other things, and they have bills to pay and everything else,' he said. 'So who do they ask to pay a very heavy price? It’s a place like this, that serves nonwhite people.' While such a decision 'would be problematic under any time, it is really problematic now.'"

Read the article here.

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