Friday August 26, 2005

Agreement May End Greek Alcohol Ban 

UC Berkeley and campus fraternity and sorority leaders are moving towards ending a ban on alcohol use by Greek organizations imposed by the university last May. 

This week, university officials said they reached an agreement with fraternities and sororities that would hold the campus’s Greek communities “more accountable for self-regulation,” including patrolling their own events and reporting any alcohol consumption violations. A university press release said that “if the self-regulation is effective [through the end of Welcome Week on Sept. 1], campus officials will partially lift the ban.” 

UC officials said that a partial ban lift would mean that chapters would be allowed to serve alcohol at social events held away from the campus, as well as at registered on-site alumni activities. A further easing of alcohol restrictions would follow if no problems occur. 

Included in the Greek-UC agreement are stiffer sanctions against fraternities and sororities caught violating the agreement or UC’s overall alcohol policy, which allows beer and wine for students of legal drinking age at events, but no kegs or other bulk containers and no hard liquor. 

Last spring’s ban on alcohol consumption at Greek organization events on campus, the second such moratorium in three years, came a month after an alleged alcohol-related fraternity hazing incident. 

In April, members of UC’s Pi Kappa Phi fraternity were accused of repeatedly shooting a 19-year-old pledge with a BB gun on a Berkeley street after forcing him to drink large quantities of beer and smoke marijuana. The incident led to the reorganization of the Pi Kappa Phi UC Berkeley chapter. 

In announcing the ban last May, UC Dean of Students Karen Kenney said that the university had “seen an alarming increase in problems with alcohol abuse, hazing, fights and badly managed parties by all types of Greek organizations.” 

At the time, UC officials said they were imposing the ban until the university could establish new policies, guidelines, and enforcement procedures for alcohol consumption by Greek organizations. 


Underhill Parking Lot Construction Begins 

UC Berkeley officials have announced that construction of the new four-level, 1,000-space Underhill parking lot will begin the end of this month. 

Construction on the site, bounded by Haste Street, Channing Way, and College Avenue, will begin with demolition of the existing parking lot and excavation for the new structure, and is expected to continue through the spring of 2007. 

University students and officials who have used the Underhill lot are being routed to other UC parking areas during the months of the construction. 

The new parking lot drew criticism earlier this year when it was presented to the Berkeley Planning Commission. Commissioner Rob Wrenn complained that the university was “shoving it down our throats. ... They’re not just replacing the old structure; they’re expanding it.” 

When completed, the new Underhill site will include a street-level recreation field and a landscaped plaza with seating.  


UC Operated Charter School Opens in North Oakland 

A controversial charter school once called “illegal” by an Oakland School Board member and “a wonderful opportunity” for UC Berkeley by a UC Berkeley official opened this week in North Oakland. 

The school, on San Pablo Avenue near the Berkeley border, is a joint operation by the university and Oakland-based non-profit Aspire Public Schools, which currently operates 11 other charter schools in urban areas of California, including two others in Oakland. Funding comes in part from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. 

CAL Prep, as the new school is named, opened its doors to 90 middle school students last Wednesday in the building formerly occupied by Oakland Unified School District’s Golden Gate Elementary. That is some 30 to 90 students fewer than school officials projected when they announced plans for the charter last March. The school day will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., including after-school programs, with students expected to carry double periods of math and English.  

The charter takeover was made possible after Oakland’s state-appointed school administrator, Randolph Ward, announced the closure of Golden Gate Elementary and then opened it up to reorganization under President George Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act. 

Last March, school board member Dan Siegel said, “Dr. Ward is using reasons that run from the fanciful to the ludicrous to justify the circumvention of state law and the closing of Oakland schools.” 

In announcing the opening of the new CAL Prep school, UC Berkeley Associate Professor Frank Worrell said the school will be based on “an excellent educational model that prepares students for success in college.” 

Dedication ceremonies for CAL Prep are planned for next November.›