[-empyre-] Yudof Response to Core Members of the UC MRG in International Culture and Performance

micha cardenas azdelslade at gmail.com
Sun Apr 25 08:58:57 EST 2010

I want to follow up on Patrick's suggestion and a few points in this letter.

'(iv) intentionally engage in other practices such as "denial of
service attacks" that impede the availability of electronic
communications services.'

Since the virtual sit-in has been demonstrated numerous times to be
different than a Denial of Service Attack, this seems like a mute
point. But Patrick is right that we can offer other interpretations of
this such as the notion that Yudof's site actually spreads
misinformation about the budget cuts by obfuscating the true financial
facts, such as that the cost of the senior administration of the UC
system grew 4 times as much as the rest of the university in the last
ten years, and if it had only grown at the speed of the rest of the
university the difference would be 800 million dollars (See the
article We are the Crisis in After the Fall for the source of that

Further, it could be argued that the virtual sit-in facilitated
greater communication, not impeded it, since it was probably the
highest number of students and faculty to ever visit his site.

"neither the First Amendment nor Academic Freedom, in my view, protects
substantial and material interference with ongoing educational and
related activities."

Again, as Patrick pointed out, the virtual sit-in is an educational
experience in many ways, it is not impeding educational activity but
creating it.

"I hope you agree that our tradition of viewpoint-neutral
application of policies governing professional conduct by faculty and
staff is one of the great strengths we rely on to demonstrate our
commitment to the public good."

Wow, this is disgusting. Yes, we agree that viewpoint neutral
application of policies is important, and so the long history of our
virtual sit-ins against sites other than Yudof's must serve as a
precedent to show that critique is a valuable part of our aesthetic
practice, including institutional critique of our own institution in
the tradition of Andrea Fraser, Hans Haacke and so many other
contemporary artists.



(i added a number of ucsd folks to this email so they can see and
share yudof's response, scroll down a lot to see yudof's response at
the end)

2010/4/23 Ricardo Dominguez <rrdominguez at ucsd.edu>:
> Hola all,
> For some reason I have been getting the empyre list emails - only Brett's
> last two
> emails have landed.
> But, here is the response by Yudof (the only one I know of).
> Best,
> Ricardo
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Letter from Core Members of the UC MRG in International
> Culture and Performance>>>>>>>>>
> Dear President Yudof, Chancellor Fox, SVC Drake, and other concerned parties:
> We, the members of the UC Multi-Campus Research Group in International
> Performance and Culture, write in support of Ricardo Dominguez (Associate
> Professor, Visual Arts, UCSD) and his collaborators at bang.lab. We have
> recently heard disturbing news about Professor Dominguez’s tenure being
> placed under review in response to several of his recent research and
> performance projects, and we are deeply concerned about such developments.
> Professor Dominguez is an internationally renowned performance artist and
> researcher whose work has been curated and anthologized in a wide range of
> venues; he is known as an exemplary artist, scholar, and teacher, and we
> count ourselves fortunate to have him as a colleague within the UC system.
> We write to provide some disciplinary context for his work, which we hope
> will encourage you to abandon any potential efforts to revoke his tenure.
> We understand the projects in question to be:
> (1) Professor Dominguez’s participation in the inter-institutional project
> “Transborder Immigrant Tool”; and
> (2) Professor Dominguez’s participation in a virtual sit-in on the UCOP
> web site as part of the collective actions taken on March 4, 2010 in
> response to the current crises facing public higher education in
> California.
> The Transborder Immigrant Tool is an innovative project that cross-cuts
> the technology and the arts. Using low-cost and recycled mobile phones
> loaded with mapping software, the project aims to reduce deaths and
> serious illnesses for those traveling through California’s deserts.
> Although this project has been meet with some controversy in the press, we
> see this work as being imminently ethical and, perhaps just as
> importantly, a serious and innovative extension of precedents in
> performance research that have similarly aimed to pose questions about
> structural inequality, citizenship and civility, and humanitarianism—such
> questions have occupied performance traditions throughout the 20th and
> 21st centuries. Dominguez’s work, in this regard, is both  part of a
> longer disciplinary tradition in the visual arts and, importantly for the
> UC, an innovative and forward-thinking extension of these queries to the
> problems and conditions that define our contemporary age.
> It is also important to note, despite sensationalist media reports to the
> contrary, that the Transborder Immigrant Tool has not as yet been used by
> anyone unaffiliated with bang.lab. It is still in development, with input
> from non-profit border organizations and the Border Patrol. We understand
> that UCSD has received complaints from several members of the US Congress
> who have unfortunately been misinformed about the project’s scope, and who
> are attempting to intervene into the practice of academic and artistic
> freedom. As scholars and artists who have chosen to work in the context of
> a public institution in the interest of the “greater good,” we find such
> interventions from political representatives into university research
> projects to be offensive, unethical, and in breach of their
> responsibilities as elected leaders.
> We also understand that information about Professor Dominguez’s work with
> the Transborder Immigrant Tool has been included with all of his
> professional reviews at UCSD, only now (after the receipt of letters from
> members of Congress) to be investigated. We are deeply concerned that what
> might, in other disciplines, be called the “results” of a research project
> could be used retroactively to question that project’s basis. We trust
> that you, too, will respect the necessary integrity of scholarly and
> artistic research by refusing to bend to political pressure and by
> continuing to support the vibrant, innovative, forward-thinking, and
> ethical research program of Professor Dominguez and bang.lab.
> The March 4 “Virtual Sit-In” on the UCOP.EDU website, similarly,
> represents an innovative approach to political action and civil
> disobedience. It is not, as some reports have attempted to assert, the
> equivalent of a “Distributed Denial of Service” (DDOS) attack, for several
> reasons:
> First, unlike all DDOS attacks, a virtual sit-in is transparent. This
> means that all participants actively accept the terms of the sit in; the
> creators of the sit-in are openly identified; and only computers used by
> specific individuals are involved. (DDOS attacks, on the other hand, use
> anonymous software programs and filters to disguise the creators and
> participants.)
> Second, like “real world” (embodied) sit-ins, a virtual sit-in is part of
> a broader set of cultural and political actions directed towards a
> specific, non-essential site with a specific message in mind. It is also
> limited in time and scope, precisely like a performance, with a set
> beginning and ending. The purpose of a virtual sit-in is to participate in
> a broader collective social action (in this case, March 4), transparently,
> in the interest of conveying the sentiments of a collective social body.
> Finally, given the primary purpose of public universities, we would hope
> that the UC would welcome the critical questions raised by a virtual
> sit-in—about collectivity, about accessibility, about the important role
> universities play in technological and artistic innovation—in a time when
> these cherished values are so severely under threat by diminishing state
> support. We see the March 4 virtual sit-in as an important extension of
> the many other collective actions engaged on March 4, pedagogically as
> well as artistically instructive.
> In short: Ricardo Dominguez is at the very vanguard of performance art
> traditions, and we count ourselves extremely fortunate to count him as a
> colleague. His international reputation as an innovative artist and
> scholar strengthens the UC’s position as a leader in the fields of
> theater/performance and the visual arts. We trust that the values of
> academic and artistic freedom that define the university’s role in public
> service will convince you to abandon attempts to revoke his tenure.
> Sincerely,
> Patrick Anderson
> Assistant Professor
> Department of Communication
> Affiliated Faculty, Critical Gender Studies
> Affiliated Faculty, Ethnic Studies
> University of California, San Diego
> 9500 Gilman Drive #0503
> La Jolla, CA 92093-0503
> Dear All,
> Yudof has responded (with a long list of cc's, excluding Ricardo) to
> the letter of support for Ricardo from the MRG in International
> Performance and Culture. The MRG letter was used as the basis for the
> online petition (which currently has nearly 2500 endorsements). I'm
> attaching his response below.
> It seems clear that the virtual sit-in/Denial of Service distinction
> is going to be key in this "investigation"; to that end, I wonder if
> some of us might start working on developing a different view of the
> legal, aesthetic, and scholarly precedents than the strict
> constructionist interpretation of policy that the administration will
> no doubt champion. We might, for example, strategically deploy
> literalism to confront literalism itself: e.g. in the policy cited by
> Yudof (below), how do we measure "excessive strain" and "interference"
> in the context of pedagogy, activism designed to promote public
> education, and artistic endeavors, all of which are presumably in line
> with university goals (and thus not "interference") and of a scale in
> line with other March 4 activities (and thus not "excessive"); and/or:
> how might a virtual sit-in actually promote access to (and thus not
> "impede availability of") "university communications services" for
> students studying civil disobedience?
> -Patrick
> Core Members of the UC MRG in International Culture and Performance
> Dear Core Members:
> Thank you for your e-mail of April 7 sending your statement of support
> of Professor Ricardo Dominguez on our San Diego campus.  I am pleased
> to know that you hold Professor Dominguez in high regard.  As I hope
> you will understand, I cannot comment on any pending investigation,
> given rights to privacy, but I can say that the University is
> committed to supporting its faculty members and their academic
> freedom.  I am confident that Chancellor Fox and her staff, working
> with the faculty, will address these issues without intervention from
> the Office of the President.
> That said, I do want to respond to your comments about protections for
> a “virtual sit-in” on the UCOP Web site.  UC’s Electronic
> Communications Policy (http://www.ucop.edu/ucophome/policies/ec/),
> Section III (see p.8) covers allowable use of our electronic systems
> and reads as follows:
> D. Allowable Uses.
> 7. Interference. University electronic communications resources shall
> not be used for purposes that could reasonably be expected to cause
> excessive strain on any electronic communications resources, or to
> cause interference with others’ use of electronic communications
> resources. Users of electronic communications services shall not: (i)
> send or forward chain letters or their equivalents in other services;
> (ii) "spam," that is, exploit electronic communications systems for
> purposes beyond their intended scope to amplify the widespread
> distribution of unsolicited electronic messages; (iii) "letter-bomb,"
> that is, send an extremely large message or send multiple electronic
> messages to one or more recipients and so interfere with the
> recipients' use of electronic communications systems and services; or
> (iv) intentionally engage in other practices such as "denial of
> service attacks" that impede the availability of electronic
> communications services.
> Our Chief Information Officer, David Ernst, is charged with
> investigating whether the participation in a “virtual sit-in” that
> degraded service to our user community violated this policy and, if
> so, what the consequences should be.  Although I am sympathetic to the
> need for free expression in pursuit of new artistic directions,
> neither the First Amendment nor Academic Freedom, in my view, protects
> substantial and material interference with ongoing educational and
> related activities.
> One of the great challenges we currently face is to convince a wider
> California public that they should support the University of
> California strongly even during times of financial stress for the
> State.  I hope you agree that our tradition of viewpoint-neutral
> application of policies governing professional conduct by faculty and
> staff is one of the great strengths we rely on to demonstrate our
> commitment to the public good.
> I appreciate your taking the time to write with your concerns.
> With best wishes, I am,
> Sincerely yours,
> Mark G. Yudof
> President
> cc:        Chancellor Marye Anne Fox
>           Provost Lawrence Pitts
>           Executive Vice President Nathan Brostrom
>           Vice President Steven Beckwith
>           Chief Information Officer David Ernst
>           General Counsel Charles Robinson
>           Deputy General Counsel David Birnbaum
> --
> Ricardo Dominguez
> Associate Professor
> Hellman Fellow
> "Another University is Possible"
> Help restore democracy to California today: http://www.CAMajorityRule.com
> Visual Arts Department, UCSD
> http://visarts.ucsd.edu/
> Principal Investigator, CALIT2
> http://calit2.net
> Co-Chair gallery at calit2
> http://gallery.calit2.net
> CRCA Researcher
> http://crca.ucsd.edu/
> Ethnic Studies Affiliate
> http://www.ethnicstudies.ucsd.edu/
> Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies Affiliate
> http://cilas.ucsd.edu
> Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics,
> Board Member
> http://hemi.nyu.edu
> University of California, San Diego,
> 9500 Gilman Drive Drive,
> La Jolla, CA 92093-0436
> Phone: (619) 322-7571
> e-mail: rrdominguez at ucsd.edu
> Project sites:
> site: http://bang.calit2.net
> site: http://gallery.calit2.net
> site: http://pitmm.net
> blog:http://post.thing.net/blog/rdom
> site: http://www.thing.net/~rdom
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

micha cárdenas / azdel slade

Lecturer, Visual Arts Department, University of California, San Diego
Artist/Researcher, UCSD Medical Education
Calit2 Researcher, http://bang.calit2.net

blog: http://transreal.org

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