Our Standby Eyes and Ears

During Demonstrations, Official Campus Observers Are Ready to Report Impartially

Christine Dawson spent an afternoon earlier this fall standing in Sproul Hall deafened by a small but boisterous sit-in.

She didn't say anything. She didn't do anything. She just watched. And that is exactly what she was called upon to do.

Dawson, who is associate athletic director, is one of about 80 staff members who volunteer as official campus observers.

Wearing identifying green badges, their job "is to be an eyewitness in case there is an offense," said Hal Reynolds, a student affairs officer who has coordinated the program off and on over the past eight years.

"In 90 to 95 percent of the time, nothing happens," said Reynolds. As in the Sproul Hall experience, after a couple hours of chanting, the protesters voluntarily left, the police disbanded and the observers returned to their offices.

But occasionally someone involved in the demonstration complains and the observers are asked to report on the situation, said Reynolds, who added that they can be subpoenaed or called into court if things go that far.

Observers are also encouraged to write a report if they see something they believe is questionable.

"Part of the training is on how to write a descriptive but impartial report," he said.

The observer program was born from the tumult of the Free Speech Movement when faculty organized themselves to monitor police interaction with protesters.

Chancellor Tien, then an engineering professor, was among the first group of observers, adds Reynolds. Today staff volunteer as observers.

As times calmed the formal effort dissolved, although there was a loose collection of people on campus who could be called in for big events.

Then in 1985, as debate heated on the Space Shuttle. Other faculty members will address students in the course of the semester as the teachers raise their academic sights.

Waldemar (Bill) Rojas, SFUSD superintendent, said the Galileo High School project shows the powerful role Berkeley can play in addressing some of the challenges facing the public school system.

"Berkeley carries a real aura for our teachers," said Rojas. "You have no idea how exciting it is for our teachers to know that they are working directly with Berkeley faculty to upgrade their curricula."

To further encourage San Francisco students to set their sights on UC, Rojas announced that the school district will pay the $40 application fee for any student from a family with limited income.

Tien hopes to develop similar partnerships in other areas of the state and will be visiting public schools, especially in Southern California.

The Berkeley Pledge also calls for an increasingly aggressive recruitment of students to Berkeley through the establishment of the Berkeley Recruitment Corps. This group, which is to visit high schools throughout the state seeking prospective students, is co-chaired by Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Affairs Genaro Padilla and Rick Russell, regent designate and California Alumni Association president.

Russell, who lives in the Los Angeles area, said more than 100 Southern California alumni are already working hard to recruit a diversified student population to Berkeley. Cal Parents, an organization of parents of students currently attending Berkeley, recently pledged to join that effort.

"We hope to double the number of alumni participating in our recruitment program and we hope to assign them to particular schools so they can be the liaison for potential students in targeted schools," said Russell.


Copyright 1995, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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