Berkeley backtracks on closing social justice center amid leftist backlash

UC-Berkeley flaked on plans to shutter its social justice center after outcry from students, faculty, and alumni.

Now, the social justice center is campaigning for even more programming and support from the university.

The ultimate fate of the center is still unclear, however, as the university continues to deliberate.

The University of California-Berkeley backtracked on plans to shut down its social justice center amid backlash from students, faculty, and alumni.

The school’s administration initially planned to close the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues and merge its programs with other departments. However, the ISSI managed to collect more than 1,300 signatures on a petition to save the department.

Among other demands, signatories asked that the university commit to supporting ISSI for five more years; maintain the current funding of $350,000 per year; and provide an additional $150,000 per year in graduate stipends.

In January, the university suspended its plans to shutter the program.

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UC-Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof provided Campus Reform with the university’s decision. 

“The response to our plan to preserve ISSI’s programs, while disbanding the institute itself, made clear that there has been insufficient prior consultation with faculty and other stakeholders,” Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Linda Rugg and Vice Chancellor for Research Randy Katz said in a statement. 

“Furthermore, our plan’s impact on the broader campus intellectual support for social justice research was inadequately addressed. We will now pause to allow for broader engagement and consultation, not just on ISSI’s future, but also about how we can, together, more fully support scholarship and research related to this critical societal challenge.”

In addition to protecting ISSI, the administration plans to “to assemble a task force on Social Justice Research that will make recommendations for how Berkeley can best support the network of faculty, staff, and students pursuing research on Social Justice issues.”

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“[W]e have achieved a major victory!” boasted the ISSI website, adding “Thank you to everyone who has supported the campaign to Save ISSI. There are still unanswered questions about the building, funding, and so on, and we count on your continued support going forward!”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft