MEMO TO REPORTERS: Update on the University of California, Berkeley's response to issues raised following a story published Feb. 15 in the Daily Californian student newspaper about a student-facilitated DeCal course on male sexuality.
The following steps have been taken to ensure academic effectiveness of all DeCal courses:
* The administration has appointed a joint Academic Senate-Administration task force to review group and individual study courses, including those facilitated by the DeCal program, and to recommend any necessary changes to ensure faculty oversight as well as sound academic content and quality. The task force will report no later than the end of the spring semester.
(DeCal is a student-run program that promotes student-initiated and student-facilitated group study courses. Regulation A230 of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate provides that, when sponsored by a faculty member, these courses can be offered for credit on a pass/not pass basis. Fewer than 2 percent of the student credit hours at UC Berkeley are given for DeCal courses).
* The current DeCal class on male sexuality that was suspended will be reconstituted on a probationary basis for the remainder of the spring semester. The new format will include weekly meetings of the faculty sponsors and student course coordinators, faculty approval and oversight of any outside class activity, and faculty approval of final project proposals. The same requirements will be made of the DeCal class on female sexuality. Because of the time demands of overseeing multiple sections of the courses, another faculty member will join the class's faculty sponsor, Professor Caren Kaplan, in the oversight of these courses. Continuing the courses under these terms will eliminate confusion between class curricula and student social activities and will enable students enrolled in these courses to continue their studies without jeopardizing their financial aid or their planned graduations.
* A preliminary inquiry has found that, with the exception of one activity, the allegations contained in the student newspaper were not directly associated with the course but were independent social activities that were undertaken by students from this class, along with other individuals. Some students may have chosen to visit a strip club as part of their class projects.
* Professor Kaplan, who oversaw the preliminary review, has recommended that an independent faculty committee be appointed to undertake a thorough fact-finding inquiry into the alleged activities. A committee will be appointed by the administration this week to undertake this task.
NOTE: UC Berkeley Media Relations will be closing early today (Thursday, Feb. 28) to attend a memorial service, and we will be unavailable to take calls after 3:30 p.m.