Internal audit reveals steep decline in counselors, $250,000 worth of questionably allocated funds

Published: The California Aggie. February 1, 2018. Viewable here.


 

This article is the third in a three-part series examining issues that counseling psychologists in the UC system are currently facing, including under-market wages, understaffing and high demand leading to systemwide recruitment and retention issues.

The California Aggie recently obtained and verified a copy of an internal audit of UC Davis Counseling Services performed in December of 2017 by UC Davis Audit and Management Advisory Services. This audit was performed almost two years after the start of an $18 million UC-wide effort to hire additional clinicians throughout the UC system in order to “increase access to mental health services, reduce wait times for students, and complement outreach and prevention efforts.”

The audit states that the reported numbers of staff on campus have been inflated to misrepresent the actual number, and that $250,000 worth of mental health funds (MHF) was spent by UC Davis in a manner “inconsistent with non-binding guidance” provided by the UC Office of the President. Additionally, the audit includes a graph (see above) which depicts a steep decline in the total number of counseling psychologists on staff in 2017.

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Adela de la Torre requested the audit be done and said it provided “good feedback.”

“We don’t necessarily need to hire more counselors,” de la Torre said in response to the audit and its findings.

In UCOP’s announcement of its four-year initiative to hire “85 clinicians across the system” in 2016, the word “will,” used to explain what the UC will do, is used eight times in the original press release. De la Torre, however, objected to the word “mandate” being used to describe the UC’s plans. She said the four-year increase in student services fees for the hiring of new clinicians to bring campuses in line with nationally-recognized staff-to-student ratios “was guidance.”

Individual student contribution to the Mental Health fee was addressed in a joint response sent via email from Assistant Vice Chancellor for Divisional Resources of Student Affairs Cory Vu, Principal Budget Analyst Laurie Carney and Campus Life Content Provider for the UC Davis News and Media Relations team Julia Ann Easley.

“For Fiscal Year 2017-18, all students pay $1128 annually, of which $113 are paid by undergraduate and graduate professional students and $100 by graduate academic students towards the Mental Health fee,” the email stated.

When asked whether the hiring of new counselors with these fees as outlined in the UC press release is an obligation of the UC campuses or an aspirational goal, UC spokesperson Stephanie Beechem said the “collaborative effort […] is ongoing.” Beechem did not respond to requests for comment as to how, specifically, UCOP is implementing the initiative.

“The [UC] has not put the effort into trying to meet their own mental health initiatives that they put out,” said Jamie McDole, the vice president of the University Professional and Technical Employees, which represents counseling psychologists. “There’s been a lot of turnover to our staffing, they’re not even close to the mental health standards they’re supposed to be achieving — of a therapist available for every 1,000 to 1,200 students. They’re failing.”

The steep decline in counseling psychologists shown on the graph (see above) was due to the termination of contract staffers at UC Davis. The audit states that ten contract employees were hired “temporarily to satisfy general under-met student need” but “only one of the ten employment contracts was renewed past June 2017.”

UPTE is currently in negotiations with the UC over its healthcare contract.

Since the existing healthcare contract does not include any contract employees, who are at-will and may be terminated without explanation, several of the UC campuses transferred their contract employees to full-time positions during bargaining with UCOP. According to McDole, however, rather than transfer UC Davis’ contract employees to full-time positions, they were terminated — “they just laid them off instead of dealing with it.”

McDole said a charge of “unfair labor practice” has been filed against UC Davis. Nan Senzaki, a senior staff member of UC Davis counseling and psychological services, commented on the hiring of the 10 contract staff members.

“Last year (2016), several […] contract staff were suddenly hired with varying levels and kinds of experience,” Senzaki said via email interview. “Although, I believe this was done with good intentions, it did not feel to me that we were providing exponentially more services commensurate with the addition of staff. I’m not confident we were being as efficient or thoughtful in what seemed a rush to increase staffing. I appreciated the additional staff, but in my experience the distribution of clinical workload was not even.”

According to Margaret Walter, the director of health and wellness at UC Davis, “the decision to end the contracts early was related to budget.”

In discussion about the SHCS budget and the funding of mental health services, Walter, who came to UC Davis in June, said that “in looking at the budget,” she “found that a lot of folks here […] didn’t quite understand how our budget worked.” Asked if there is an issue with transparency regarding the budget, de la Torre said Walter could present informational materials to the staff — Walter replied, “we have been.”

Walter added that she hoped the staff “would trust that [the money from the initiative] was spent appropriately.” The audit, Walter said, “found the money was spent appropriately as it was supposed to be.”

The audit states that $250,000 has been allocated annually to Student Judicial Affairs and the Student Disability Center for case management positions.

“As a result, fewer funds are available for recruitment of Counseling Services counselor [full time employees] FTEs,” the audit states. “Guidance published by UCOP in 2015 indicates that the funds should be used in support of the Counseling Services department. We discussed this with leadership at UCOP, who suggest that though the guidance is not binding, it demonstrates an expectation of the UC students and Regents that the funds be spent in support of undifferentiated care from a central counseling unit to which all students have access.”

The joint response from Vu, Carney and Easley states that “Student Affairs and Budget and Institutional Analysis (BIA) will seek clarification from […] UCOP regarding the funding for the positions at Office of Student Support and Judicial Affairs (OSSJA) and the Student Disability Center (SDC). Student Affairs and BIA believe the current use of funds is appropriate.”

Both positions funded with the money, at the SDC and OSSJA, are clinical psychologist positions.

The audit states that counseling services employed 28 counselors in January of 2016 — “at that time the Provost documented an agreement with the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs to add 11 new FTEs by the end of FY 2017.”

According to Walter, there are currently 28.5 counselors at UC Davis and several open positions. Walter was asked if she agrees with de la Torre’s claim that the university does not “necessarily need to hire more counselors.”

“We do need more mental health providers,” Walter said. “In turn, we will need more counselors as well, people providing more direct clinical service to students, especially as our student body grows.”

In October of 2016, plans were announced to move the Women’s Resource and Research Center out of North Hall so counseling services could expand into the first floor. The additional space would be needed to house the estimated 11 to 12 counselors UC Davis planned to hire through the UC-wide initiative. The WRRC currently remains in North Hall, and counseling services have not drastically expanded elsewhere on campus. Director of Student Health and Counseling Services Sarah Hahn said the university is “not yet in need of additional space for counselors.”

“They needed that space for 12 new counselors,” said Samantha Chiang, a fourth-year English major and the director of the UC Davis Mental Health Initiative. “But now, they haven’t gotten any new space. Where are the 12 counselors? Also, we haven’t had a net increase of 12 counselors. [… We’ve] potentially hired more than 12 counselors but because our retention rate is so bad due to poor pay, we haven’t increased by 12. That has really been obscured from the student body. We really need to mobilize in some way to ensure that we get our money’s worth. That was supposed to go to direct counseling services. They can’t say, ‘Oh, this was for [something else].’ No, that money was earmarked for direct counseling services.”

According to UCOP, the $18 million “will support hiring 85 mental health clinicians to include psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and case managers.” The statement from Vu, Carney and Easley states “UCOP was not prescriptive in how the Mental Health funds were to be used other than for mental health services.”

UC Davis currently employs 3.5 psychiatrists. The UCOP-recognized ratio is one psychiatrist per 6,500 students. There are “postdoctoral psychiatry fellows from the UCD Medical Center that see clients,” Walter said, stating the university is “aware that our ratio for psychiatry needs to be addressed, especially in light of increased enrollment in the future.” Additionally, including the postdoctoral fellows in the ratio would result, Walter said, in a “psychiatry provider-to-student ratio of approximately 1:7,500.”

Another issue addressed in the audit during talks with de la Torre, Vu and Walter — and brought up repeatedly by all three — concerns low levels of productivity. The audit shows that in 2017, clinical counselors had an average of 2.26 clinical sessions per day, data based on self-reported numbers. Walter emphasized this low number of reported sessions taking place in a workday.

“My experience working at other schools has always been to use the benchmarks they put in the audit to argue for more clinicians because staff were seeing seven, eight people a day,” Walter said. “That’s been my experience at some other schools. I’ve not been on the flipside ever before. This is really unusual. Of course, there’s days when a provider will see five or six, but there’s days when they’ll see none or one. It was shocking for me.”

Senzaki commented on the audit’s findings regarding productivity — she commented after being notified that The Aggie had already obtained a copy of the audit.

“I am deeply concerned with the apparent misrepresentation of the [data] despite disclaimers in the audit report,” Senzaki said via email. “I fear it has the potential to be interpreted that we are all grossly underperforming and underutilized in all areas of service. This type of data continues to undermine morale, is misrepresentative and distracts from more meaningful and important conversations with how to provide competent mental health services which meets student/campus community needs. It does not address retention of staff and sustainable measures of performance and productivity. There are many components to this discussion. From my reality and experience, some staff provide way more direct clinical hours than other staff.”

De la Torre talked about a “productivity issue” which can be addressed by a “need to redistribute the workload.” Senzaki, however, who has just begun her 18th year working at UC Davis, said that how productivity is being measured is flawed.

“These low numbers have in the past, resulted in a pattern of management often directing pressure at North Hall clinical staff to pick up the pace (productivity) vs. looking at all the other apparent issues with utilization within various programs, management, the system and data,” Senzaki said via email. “In other words, if we are defining “apples” and more specifically, “MacIntosh apples” as one variety of an apple (representing direct counseling contact or sessions=clinical), you can’t also include all varieties of “apples” along with “oranges,” “pears” and “peaches” (representing all the other functions and duties one might include in mental health services) and then create a hybrid and assume you have a legitimate measure of standard productivity. It begins to minimize our sincere efforts and our diverse roles within supporting and providing various facets of mental health services.”

The university has plans to hire one additional counselor each year for the next three years. Asked if the university has, during the time of the four-year UC-wide initiative, hired significantly more counselors, de la Torre instead stressed the importance of diversity.

“I think there’s something more important that I have seen in the last few years and that is the diversity of counselors,” de la Torre said. “I can honestly say, as a faculty member for 15 years, the biggest complaint that was against counseling was quite frankly the lack of diversity of the counseling staff. We can talk about hiring more, it’s like hiring more faculty. But if it’s the same person, meaning the same demographic, that doesn’t address the fact that we need diverse ones. It’s a trade-off. Then the question becomes to the students, ‘Is it important for you to have that diversity?’ And that’s a really good question to ask, ‘Are you willing to give that up?’”

UC Davis does send monthly reports to UCOP concerning the university’s progress with additional hiring and the allocation of the mental health fund. The audit, however, addresses misinformation within UC Davis’ reports.

“Data are currently being reported with the intent to show how the new MHF funds are used, [which] does not take into account whether the funds are used to increase net counselor FTEs, but rather aims to show that the funds are not used elsewhere and are not being accumulated as reserves,” the audit states. “A conflicting interpretation is that the data are meant to show how many FTEs have been added using the new MHF funds. The most recent reports claim new counselor positions, several of which we found to have been existing positions, but whose funding sources had been shifted to the new MHF. We conclude that these reports do accurately report a new use of MHF funds, but that they do not satisfy the intended purpose of showing net increase in total counselor FTEs. Rather, they tend to suggest an inflated number of new positions added.”

In response to these findings, Walter said UCOP now “knows where people are.” Another issue in the audit addresses the fact that counseling services is currently “operating without a strategic plan.”

“One of the [needs] is a strategic plan — how would we start [one], especially in light [that] the chancellor doesn’t want us to have a strategic plan until his strategic plan is done,” Walter said. “We have to hold off on this as the greater UC Davis strategic plan is unfolding, but we could do some groundwork right now. It will help us not just preserve the things we’re doing well, but add things that we want and realize that we can lose some things.”

A spokesperson for Chancellor Gary May said that May’s chief of staff indicated that no such directive came from the Chancellor’s office.

Walter later said via email that “current strategic planning efforts of the Chancellor will not delay us, and I’m sure they will all align once complete.”

In January, Dr. Greg Eells, the director of counseling and psychological services at Cornell University, came to UC Davis to perform a needs assessment using the findings of the audit. Eells last performed a needs assessment for the university in 2013.

The Aggie obtained a copy of Eells’ findings in 2013. The assessment recommended additional hiring of staff to meet nationally-recognized ratios and student demand, the development of guidelines for clinical productivity as well as “relationship building […] to shift the culture of ‘they’ to one of ‘we’ where staff within CAPS and across the broader SHCS feel committed to the singular mission of providing integrated care to UC Davis students.”

In reference of the recommendations and findings of the 2013 Needs Assessment, Walter said she thinks “it’s interesting that things come up in the audit that were also true four years ago.”

A town hall on mental health is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 13 at the ARC Ballroom at 7 p.m.

 

Advertisements

Reality of counseling services in UC system

Published: The California Aggie. January 21, 2018. Viewable here.


 

This article is the second in a three-part series examining issues that counseling psychologists in the UC system are currently facing, including under-market wages, understaffing and high demand leading to systemwide recruitment and retention issues. The final installation will examine how these issues affect UC Davis.

When Rodolfo Victoria, a senior staff psychologist at UC Irvine, first began working for the university as an intern in 2011 and then as a postdoc from 2012-15, every senior staff psychologist was doing about two intakes — initial appointments with students — every week. Now, every senior staff psychologist does an average of four to five intakes a week in order to “get folks in […] within 10 business days.”

But seeing a student within 10 business days is just the goal for an initial appointment and assessment. According to Victoria, the follow-up appointment, to actually give therapy to students, can take up to two to four weeks to schedule. At particularly hectic points in the quarter, a follow-up appointment can take up to six weeks.

In conjunction with what Victoria says is an increase in “the severity or acuity” of student mental health needs on campus, UC Irvine also struggles with recruiting qualified mental health professionals and retaining staff.

“In the last three years, we have been trying desperately to fill vacated spots, and because of the turnover that we’ve been experiencing, essentially over the last three or four years, we’ve only increased our full-time senior staff by one,” Victoria said. “We constantly have searches for a senior staff psychologist — we’ll interview three or four people [and] we offer offers. In the last two or three years, I can list off probably six names of people that didn’t last more than two years. Retention has been a huge issue.”

When asked whether or not UC Irvine was meeting the overall mental health needs of students in a timely and efficient manner, Victoria first said “yes and no.” Later, Victoria qualified his answer. After the initial appointment, he said, “no, we’re not meeting the mental health needs of students. I think we could do more.”

A very similar sentiment was expressed by Diana Davis, the clinical director of Student Health and Counseling Services at UC Davis.

“Sometimes people have to wait for an appointment because we only have so many of those,” Davis said. “We’re very accessible. I think where it gets slowed down is if students want ongoing counseling. We may not be able to see them every week for like four or five weeks and usually […] five sessions is an average amount we can offer students. The appointment, getting it for ongoing counseling, may require a wait.”

Issues relating to wait times, recruitment and retention, turnover and burnout are apparent at several, if not all, UC campuses. These issues are ongoing, even two years after the UC Office of the President announced serious steps toward promoting and expanding mental health resources at all UC campuses.

In 2016, UCOP announced that an additional $18 million, composed of annual student service fees, would be added to the mental health budget to hire 85 new clinicians UC-wide. According to UC Spokesperson Stephanie Beechem, “as of October 2017, 98 mental health providers have been hired across the UC system.”

“I would expect there’s also a significant number of staff who have left,” said Aron Katz, a psychologist at UC Davis’ SHCS.

The additional hires “will bring UC staffing in line with recommended ratios” of one psychologist per 1,000 to 1,200 students and one psychiatrist per 6,500 students. The staff-to-student ratio UCOP recognizes is a number established by the International Association of Counseling Services, Inc. The IACS states on its website that when a university is not meeting the recommended staff-to-student ratio, there will likely be longer wait times, decreased availability, increased risks for liability and an overall decrease in support for students.

“Imagine the liability that the counseling center and university would have if it was discovered that a student who went on a shooting spree had gone to the counseling center for help only to be put on a wait list,” the IACS website states.

Jamie McDole, the vice president of the University Professional and Technical Employees, which represents counseling psychologists, said she doesn’t know of any UC campus that is currently meeting or close to meeting the IACS ratio.

“There are some campuses that are certainly better staffed than others,” McDole said. “Throughout the campus, the one that is absolutely the worst staffed that I’m aware of is UC Riverside who’s currently at, I believe, six therapists for 22,000 students.”

A source from UC Riverside who wished to remain anonymous stated that the current number of counseling psychologists is five full-time staff members. With a total student body of 23,278, the ratio of psychologists per students is roughly 1:4,655. In the past, UCR has had as few as three full-time psychologists.

“Prior to me working there, UCR lost their entire staff and had to rehire,” the anonymous source said. “I know that […] probably at least over the last three years [they’ve] lost their staff three times. We should be hiring about three times the amount of people we have now.”

According to the source, retention issues are not unique to UC Riverside, but are “especially worse at UCLA and UCR.”

An anonymous counseling psychologist at UCLA spoke about the reality of counseling services at the university.

“I would say UCLA has a reputation in the mental health community in the wider Los Angeles area of being a very challenging place to work at due to the acuity and the large caseloads and the pace of work here,” the source said. “That became rapidly and readily apparent when I began working here. We have a large staff, but we have an enormous student body too, and we also have one of the highest utilization rates of any campus in the country, […] in terms of the percentage of students that seek counseling.”

Due to retention issues at UCLA, the counselor said that when they were first hired, they were “struck” by the number of staff members who would jokingly ask how long they planned to say.

“Like, ‘Are you going to stick around?,’” the counseling psychologist said. “It was very apparent that there was a fear, basically, and sort of a trauma of the number of people that had left. I kept hearing […], ‘We keep losing really good people.’ It’s often like you don’t have any idea why people are leaving either because it’s sort of shrouded in secrecy often due to HR reasons.”

Victoria spoke about a systemwide issue regarding the recruitment and retention of qualified mental health professionals. Just last quarter, Victoria said UC Irvine lost one staff psychologist and one social worker — “we just don’t have enough staff to provide the services that we want.”

“All of this kind of preventative work that we could be doing to prevent the next kind of crisis from occurring, that gets put off and completely put on the side because we can’t give our attention to that,” Victoria said. “We are a place that really values doing preventative outreach work, and that I can tell you has gone down over the years because we just can’t dedicate time and attention to that. I worry that eventually we will simply become just a crisis center — […] that’s an important element of what we do, but it can’t be the only thing that we do. Not only is that not really addressing the mental health needs of students, but it’s not fulfilling. That’s what leads to these burnout and turnover numbers that we’re seeing, because it takes a toll.”

According to the IACS website, after the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, which left 32 people dead, counseling centers nationwide were “asked to provide training to faculty and staff to help them detect warning signs of students who might be a risk to themselves or others.”

“It would be very difficult to find the time to do this when the counselors are hardly able to keep up with the growing clinical demand,” the IACS website states.

With regard to to the additional $18 million of student fees allocated across the UC system by UCOP specifically meant to bring staff in line with recommended staff-to-student ratios and “increase access to mental health services,” neither the source from UC Riverside, Victoria or a counseling psychologist from UC San Diego who wished to remain anonymous could say definitively how much of the money has come to their respective universities or where it has been allocated.

Another issue prevalent at several UC campuses is the lack of space allocated for mental health resources and professionals. The anonymous counseling psychologist from UCLA discussed their frustration with seeing a multimillion dollar football facility built “less than a hundred yards” from their offices, while the campus says “they, ‘can’t find any more space.’”

“If student mental health is a priority of this campus, as they seem to indicate, it would be important to demonstrate that with actions,” the UCLA counseling psychologist said.

Victoria also said he sees the lack of space allocated to counseling services at UC Irvine as a reflection of how the university chooses to prioritize mental health needs on campus.

“Even if, by some miracle next month we got 10 new staff, where would we put them?” Victoria said. “You can say all the right things about how mental health is a priority to the campus, but unless you show me, it’s just talk.”

The anonymous counseling psychologist from UCSD expressed, almost word-for-word, the same problem.

“Even if we have the money right now and had a great candidate, we wouldn’t have any place to put them,” the UCSD counseling psychologist said.

The IACS website discusses a nationwide trend regarding the increase in the severity of mental health issues in recent years.

“Of the 367 universities and colleges that filled out the National Survey of Counseling Center Directors (2013), 95% reported that the number of students with severe psychological problems has increased in recent years,” the website states. “As the severity increases, so does the time that’s required by the mental health professional to adequately manage the case. Thus, the ratio of counselors to students should actually decrease as severity of issues increase.”
The UCSD counseling psychologist, alongside the aforementioned sentiments from Victoria and the counseling psychologist from UCLA, discussed an overall increase of the acuity in the problems seen on campus.

“My biggest concern is wanting to not just have the quantity of staff but the quality of staff,” the UCSD counseling psychologist said. “Our staff is really hard-working. The stuff that we’re dealing with is not what some of the administrators would make it sound like, like we’re just dealing with people with relationship problems or someone’s having trouble in their classes. We’re dealing with really intense, acute issues — people who are seriously contemplating suicide, people who are going through their first mental or psychotic break. It’s just a ton of stress that we have in our job, and there’s this pressure that we need to be the ones preventing anything from happening, like preventing someone from acting out in a suicidal manner or a homicidal manner. I know that’s something that weighs heavily on our staff. With limited resources, that just adds to […] the pressure and stress and frustration, […and] it’s a reality of our experience as a psychologist on campus.”

Counseling psychologists demand market-level salaries during negotiations with UC

Published: The California Aggie. January 15, 2018. Viewable here


 

This article is the first in a three-part series examining issues that counseling psychologists in the UC system are currently facing, including under-market wages, understaffing and high demand leading to systemwide recruitment and retention issues.

Bargaining negotiations are currently taking place between the UC Office of the President (UCOP) and University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE) over terms relating to employment under the job titles Counseling Psychologist 2 and 3 in the UC system, including and perhaps most notably relating to the under-market pay scale these employees receive at the UC.

When asked why several, if not all, UC campuses are severely understaffed in terms of counseling psychologists, Aron Katz, a psychologist at UC Davis’ Student Health and Counseling Services said “it comes down to money.”

“I love my work, I love being here, but you can go ten miles down the road in either direction and make 20 to 50 percent more,” Katz said. “It’s a tough sell.”

According to Jamie McDole, the vice president of UPTE, the below-market salaries counseling psychologists currently receive, in addition to heavy workloads, are the main factor behind the retention and recruitment issues UC campuses struggle with. McDole said counselors are “stressed, overworked and overburdened.”

“The only way to achieve adequate staffing is to have adequate salary to recruit competent therapists and then retain them,” McDole said.

_______________________________________________

In January, UPTE successfully petitioned the Public Employment Relations Board, a state agency, to add the job titles Counseling Psychologist (CP) 2 and 3 into union membership. Previously, counseling psychologists were not unionized. According to Katz, the distinction between CP2s and CP3s is not “meaningful” — currently, the title of CP3 is used to denote “semi-management positions.”

Two separate processes between UPTE and UCOP are now occurring. Accretion is the process of adding counseling psychologists to the pre-existing healthcare contract (Hx). Since accretion negotiations began, the pre-existing Hx contract counseling psychologists are being added to expired on Oct. 31.

“Accretion negotiation began in January,” said Katz, who is also the UC Davis counseling psychologist representative for bargaining in the accretion process. “In the time it’s taken to negotiate this, the Hx contract has expired, so that also needs to be negotiated. We are fighting to keep those two negotiations separate, because if they were combined, counseling psychologist staff would have next to no influence on our terms because we would make up such a small proportion of Hx members.”

According to Katz, salary negotiations are the “major sticking point to resolving accretion.” The current pay range for CP2s is $66,214 to $119,186 — “but no one is at either end” of the scale, Katz said, “so it’s terribly misleading.” Using the list of counselors posted on the SHCS website, The Sacramento Bee’s 2016 state worker salary database shows most of these full-time counselors received salaries in a range between $86,000 to $98,000.

At a local healthcare provider such as Kaiser, the job title “psychologist” has a pay range of $119,955 to $155,764. UPTE has presented UCOP with a step scale structure of pay ranges for counseling psychologists reflective of local markets. Each UC campus has a different salary structure it is presenting.

“The current step that has been presented to represent UCR is pretty much indicative of other community colleges [and] it also […] takes all those different local pieces into consideration,” said a source from UC Riverside who wished to remain anonymous. “I think the biggest issue that UCOP has with the step salary is that it requires them to pay us more, basically comparable to what people are leaving the UC system for — people are leaving the UC system for higher paying jobs. The only argument is that they have no money or that there’s no funding for it, that it would require too much stretching of the budget to give us comparable pay.”

During negotiations, UCOP presented UPTE with three offers. UCOP has proposed a step 1 entry pay of $72,850.32, according to a source who wished to remain anonymous; for comparison, the UC Davis Medical Center’s entry pay for the job title “Psychologist 2” is $96,653.52 and the entry pay at Kaiser for the job title “Psychologist” is $119,955.60. Both UPTE and UCOP are proposing a step scale for salaries — UCOP’s salary proposition would place existing counseling psychologists on a salary step corresponding with the salary range they currently receive.

According to Katz, UCOP’s salary proposals are effective wage reductions. Although counseling psychologists could potentially receive a small raise, when union dues and an increased contribution to the UC Retirement Plan are taken into account, there is “a reduction in the take home pay.”

According to UC spokesperson Stephanie Beechem in an email interview, the UC has, since March, “offered multiple fair and reasonable proposals on wages, benefits and other employment matters in order to reach a settlement.”

In 2016, the UC Office of the President publicized and promoted a mandate which stated that, by 2018-19, an additional $18 million would be allocated to the mental health budget to “support hiring 85 mental health clinicians” UC-wide. Counseling psychologists in the UC system are funded by student fees. The additional $18 million allocated to the UC’s student mental health budget is comprised of “an increase in the annual student services fees,” according to the UCOP website.

“UC states that salary funding is limited to student fees (which students recently voted to increase for additional availability of services),” McDole said via email. “That limit is set by the university and there is no reason, other than an arbitrary university decision, that mandates the limited funding source. We have brought this up many times in bargaining, but the University continues to limit funding.”

Beechem did not respond specifically to the question: “If there is an additional $18 million in the mental health budget, why is UCOP’s most recent salary proposal for counseling psychologists unreflective of local markets?” Beechem did say that the UC“continues to negotiate in good faith.”

McDole and Rodolfo Victoria, a senior staff psychologist and the bargaining representative from UC Irvine, however, both allege that UCOP has engaged in bad faith bargaining.

“We thought, coming into this, that we would be negotiating in good faith and that has not been the case,” Victoria said. “There seems to be a very strong reluctance to negotiate with us in any kind of meaningful way. They initially had offered to lower our salary and then now they’re at a place where they’re trying to present themselves as very generous and offering to give us a raise that we would have been entitled to under the […] system that we were under. They’re trying to say that we are a valuable resource on campus, but yet, when we ask them to […] at least give us fair and competitive market wages, they have been incredibly reluctant to do so.”

In a memo from June 1, composed and sent by Dwaine Duckett, the vice president of human resources for UCOP, he claimed “UPTE has presented a wage demand UC believes is unrealistic that would almost double costs for our Counseling and Psychology Services and Student Health Centers.”

“That is false,” McDole said about Duckett’s claim. “I think if we did all the full calculations of what we are proposing, [it] is overall approximately a 30 percent increase in total costs. We did the math, they didn’t.”

Duckett was unavailable for comment.

An online petition titled “Petition for Good Faith Bargaining With Campus Counseling Psychologists” states that the “UC has lost staff due to the lack of competitive campus wages, which has substantially decreased the availability of mental health staff for students. The intensity of student needs is increasing to the point that we, the staff, fear for our safety and that of the students and campus community.”

A counseling psychologist from UCLA, who wished to remain anonymous, said they signed the online petition, which has over 200 signatures, because, after working “at a number of different counseling centers, […] there’s something about the fear and dispirited, disjunctive culture that is palpable here.”

Several counselors at multiple UC campuses said both they and their colleagues feel that the UCOP sees counseling psychologists as replaceable. Victoria said, at UC Irvine, “there’s already a huge morale burnout issue on our campus.”

According to Katz, a UC employee asked UCOP’s Chief Negotiator Patty Donnelly at a meeting during negotiations “if recruitment and retention of counseling psychologists is a bargaining interest of UCOP” and Donnelly said “no.”

Donnelly was not available for comment. Beechem did not respond to the specific question: “Is the recruitment and retention of counseling psychologists a bargaining interest of UCOP?”

“We get the message that we should be grateful to work for UC and that if we’re not happy here for any reason, that we should just consider leaving,” said a counseling psychologist from UC San Diego who wished to remain anonymous.

The same UCSD counseling psychologist said, as negotiations drag, there is the risk of losing more staff — “I’ve already heard murmurings about people looking elsewhere and feeling frustrated.”

Another meeting for accretion negotiations is pending scheduling for Jan. 12. Asked how hopeful he was that negotiations would be completed within the next month or two, Victoria said “not very.” McDole said, most recently, “the university has proposed scant increases that in no way moves therapists toward market wages.”

At this point, there has been informal discussion of a strike among several individual campuses.

“I can say that […] we are quite frustrated with how things are going and the lack of progress on UCOP’s end,” Victoria said. “There has been talk about [striking]. We obviously would like to avoid that at all costs — we don’t want the students and the campus community to be impacted by this. But at some point, if this continues like it has been, that’s obviously an option we’ll have to consider.”

UC Student-Workers Union organized statewide, UC Davis grade-in

Published: The California Aggie. December 18, 2017. Viewable here.


 

On Tuesday, Dec. 12, the UC Student-Workers Union (UAW) Local 2865 coordinated a statewide grade-in in order to increase the visibility of the work done by graduate student workers throughout the UC system. UC Davis’ grade-in was held at the CoHo from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. More than 50 graduate students attended. They congregated at multiple large tables to complete end-of-quarter work and grading.

A poster board which asked graduate students “How much grading do you have to do?” was posted on a window of the CoHo. Post-it notes attached to the board answered: “58 (5-6 page) term papers,” “40 papers (6-10 pages), 40 finals, 40 take-home essays,” “60 essay questions, 40 quizzes, 40 response papers,” “72 lab reports/week” and “50 essays, 50 final exams.”

According to Amara Miller, the head steward of the UC Davis UAW unit and a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology, the work graduate students do for the university, including research, “contributes to the appeal of the UC system for potential students,” and the universities also profit “from research work through grants or private contracts that we work on.”

“Essentially, graduate students on campus are currently doing a great deal of labor to support undergrads through their classes whether as teaching assistants, associate instructors (acting professors […] who get paid roughly $200 more than a TA does), tutors, and readers,” Miller said via email. “Most of this labor, though, is often done in spaces that are not visible to the broader campus community and to undergraduates, whether that is grading from our homes or working on our research in our offices/lab spaces.”

Maggie Downey is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate studying social welfare at UC Berkeley. Downey talked about the importance of making private graduate work public.

“A lot of academic work […] can be lonely and isolating, so [the grade-in] is a way for us to come together and sort of share the work we do,” Downey said. “It’s also a way our undergraduate students [can] see us doing the work and make sure that they know that this is about us wanting to give them the best mentorship and feedback that we can. We also want the UC administration, the UC Regents [and] the UC chancellors to know how much we value our students’ work. Our own working conditions are student-learning conditions.”

The grade-in also raised awareness about the upcoming contract renegotiations between UAW 2865 and the UC Office of the President which begin in February. Savannah Hunter, a second-year Ph.D. student at UC Davis studying sociology, who is also a recording secretary for the union, discussed the 12 different bargaining goals the union has outlined.

“All throughout Fall Quarter, members could vote to let us know what things were priorities for them, and these were the list of 12 things that were collected,” Hunter said. “One of the biggest things, of course, is increased compensation. Housing across all the UCs is really expensive and there’s not enough housing. We also want UCD to be established as a sanctuary campus.”

Another bargaining goal is the complete remission of tuition and fees, specifically for international students. Tanaya Dutta Gupta, an international Ph.D. student studying sociology, said she is especially supportive of the proposed fee remission.

Undergraduate student workers, who might work as tutors or readers, are also protected by the same contract up for renegotiation. Additionally, Hunter stated that the contract also impacts undergraduates who are not student workers.

“We do a lot of the work that’s vital to make the university run — TAs actually provide about half of the contact hours for undergrad students,” Hunter said. “If we’re underpaid, and we don’t have housing and we don’t have healthcare benefits, it’s really going to affect the quality of education that undergrads get.”

Michael Culshaw-Maurer, a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the graduate group in ecology and a head steward of the union, emphasized the importance of establishing consistency. Culshaw-Maurer said he alternates between holding a TA position and a research position, which is common among graduate students.

“You’re not a completely different person, you’re not a completely different student, but your rights, your pay [and] your contract varies wildly across those different positions,” Culshaw-Maurer said. “What we want is to establish continuity of rights and benefits for graduate students regardless of what their position is throughout the year.”

Culshaw-Maurer said he is hopeful that all 12 bargaining goals will be met.

“We’re building a lot of solidarity here,” Culshaw-Maurer said. “We’ve had a lot of really good turn-out at events recently, statewide our membership is going up, we’ve been doing a lot of outreach [and] a lot of organizing. I feel really confident we’re going to have a good result this coming year. We’re going to win.”

Interfaith event on Oct. 22 met with protest outside Islamic Center

Published: The California Aggie. Oct. 22, 2017. Co-reported & written. View here.


 

Community members who attended the Oct. 22 event “Walking Our Faith and Sharing a Meal,” an interfaith potluck and walk, were met with protestors when they arrived at the Islamic Center of Davis. The event began at Congregation Bet Haverim where Rabbi Greg Wolfe presented, participants then walked together to the Islamic Center of Davis to hear a presentation by Imam Ammar Shahin. The group Davis United Against Hate had pre-planned to assemble in front of the Center to protest for the removal of Shahin.

Shahin’s sermon in July of 2017 sparked outrage in the community and was covered nationally. Although Shahin claimed that part of his sermon was mistranslated, he says in English during the speech that “the time will come, the last hour will not take place until the Muslims fight the Jews.” Shahin has since apologized.

“To the Jewish community here in Davis and beyond, I say this deeply, I am deeply sorry for the pain I have caused,” Shahin said at a joint press conference in late July. “I let my emotions get the best of me and cloud my better judgement.”

Amr Zedan, the president of the Islamic Center of Davis, told The Aggie on Oct. 22 that the Imam’s sermon is “not a statement that we endorse here.”

Ralph Libet, one of the protestors outside of the Islamic Center, held a sign in Arabic which he said, read “dear Imam, you are crazy, please leave here now.”

“I find it very disturbing, and to me it’s just ridiculous that we […accept] people talking about annihilating other people,” Libet said. “It just doesn’t fit in our society, it doesn’t fit in our city and it shouldn’t be happening across the University of California, either.”

About 20 people gathered to protest in front of the Islamic Center and across the adjacent streets. Gail Rubin, the organizer of Davis United Against Hate, said the group is a “loose affiliation of residents in the community.” Recently, Rubin’s guest opinion piece was published in The Davis Enterprise. In the opinion piece, she asked members of the community to join her group in the “peaceful interfaith vigil” they held on Oct. 22 from 4 to 6 p.m.

“UC Davis students who are Muslims, all they have to do is cross the street […] and hear those words now to become radicalized,” Rubin said. “We’re here to say, ‘He needs to go.’ We are here because the interfaith community is being cynically manipulated by this Imam to stand with them as a show of solidarity.”

Frohar Osmani, a third-year international relations major, said the Islamic Center of Davis is where she and others go to feel safe; “one person doesn’t represent Islam,” Osmani said.

Protesters held signs that read “I am a Jew. Here in Davis an Imam wants me and my family DEAD,” “Speak out no hate peace please,” “teach love practice tolerance,” “no hate in Davis words hurt” and “stop attending Mosque that preaches genocide of the Jews.”

Alexander Groth, a professor emeritus from UC Davis’ Department of Political Science as well as a survivor of the Holocaust from the Warsaw ghetto, was one of the protesters in attendance. Groth emphasized the need to stand up against hateful and anti-Semitic speech and likened Shahin’s speech to Hitler’s call for the “decimation of Jews” in World War II. He also expressed dismay that the Davis “city council has done nothing” in response to the July sermon.

A large group of around 60 or more were inside, around and behind the Islamic Center as part of the interfaith event — the group was a diverse mix of children and adults talking, eating snacks and passing around glow sticks. After the Imam spoke, the group was preparing to continue the walk and end the night at the Davis United Methodist Church for a reflective discussion and potluck dinner.

Kate Snow was one community member at the interfaith event. Snow works as a school climate coordinator for the Davis Joint Unified School District and is involved in “restoring justice” as well as in how to “use conflict as a place to transform.”

“It’s so clear that this community, Davis as a whole, wants to transform and I think wants to be connected,” Snow said. “To me, [this event] is an opportunity to see another group of people […and] to build our learning, our education and to build our connection and then to think about what it is we can do ourselves to continue to build a community.”

When asked about her thoughts on the gathered protesters outside of the event, Snow reflected on what she had heard from Rabbi Wolfe and Imam Shahin earlier in the day.

“As the Imam said — and as Rabbi Wolf [said] — it’s important for us to listen,” Snow said. “My belief is that, as [the Imam] said, we make room for all and that […] includes people who say things you don’t like and […] includes people who scare you.”

 

Admissions data released for new school year

Published: The California Aggie. July 17, 2017. View here.


 

On July 6, the UC Office of the President released news that over 130,000 incoming freshmen and transfer students were offered admittance to a UC school for the fall of 2017. According to a UC Davis news release, the university itself has offered admission to over 41,000 incoming freshmen and transfer students after receiving almost 80,000 applications, a record-breaking number.

Although final enrollment numbers are not released until the second week of October, Associate Vice Chancellor Walter Robinson said what he finds most noteworthy about the admissions data is the diversity, accomplishments and backgrounds of the students accepted. With regard to diversity, the demographics of California students admitted to the university is now composed of over 30 percent historically underrepresented groups –– African American, American Indian and Chicanx/Latinx populations –– according to the news release.

“As an engine of social mobility, the University of California, Davis has an obligation to make sure that it’s providing access and opportunity to a world-class education to the cross-sections and the demographics that make up the state’s population,” Robinson said. “We happen to be in a state that’s extremely diverse, so whenever we see the distribution of enrollment across the many different [demographics], especially historically underrepresented populations, we’re making steps in the right direction.”

The university currently has three strategic retention centers set up –– one for African American students, one for Native American students and one for Chicanx/Latinx students. Additionally, according to Robinson, a campus-wide retention center will move to a permanent space next year.

The university increased admissions for students from low-income families by 2.5 percent.

UC Davis also made significant advancements toward receiving the status of and becoming a Hispanic-Serving Institute (HSI). To become an HSI, the undergraduate student population must have a demographic of over 25 percent Hispanic students, a reality Robinson said is feasible within the next year or two.

UC Davis is one of the five UC schools that has to cap undergraduate enrollment of nonresidents at 18 percent or below, due to a decision made by the UC Board of Regents earlier this year.. According to Robinson, 4,300 California residents are projected to make up the anticipated incoming freshmen class of around 5,800. However, UC Davis did admit more international students this year than any other UC school.

“We do realize that there’s an 18 percent cap, and we are below that cap,” Robinson said. “Once we achieve that cap, we will do everything we can to stay at or below it.”

According to The Sacramento Bee, the admissions rate for international applicants was around 60 percent, while, for California residents, the admissions rate was around 36 percent — Robinson cited a number of reasons for higher rates of admission among international students.

“We do know that the yield rate of international students, as well as national students, aren’t as high as Californians,” Robinson said. “For example, we have a 24 percent yield rate for California freshmen, but we have a 14 percent yield rate that comes from students outside of the state of California. As we think about the ultimate enrollment goal, we have to think about how making offers […] will result in what outcome.”

Incoming first-year mechanical engineering major Adarsh Umarani, an international student from Abu Dhabi, said in an email interview that being accepted to UC Davis was a great feeling.

“I was not aware of the enrollment cap,” Umarani said. “Given that UCs are meant to be primarily for California residents, it makes sense that the local students will be given more preference than out-of-state students.”

Regarding transfer students, over 9,600 of the total 10,300 transfer students admitted are from California community colleges. Robinson himself attended community college and later transferred to a four-year university.

“UC Davis, for over the last decade, has had more transfer students enrolled than any other UC campus,” Robinson said. “We have a Transfer Admissions Guarantee agreement with all 113 California Community Colleges. I’d say that easily a third of our transfer students that are coming from a California Community College are coming from the Transfer Admissions Guarantee program. I’m a strong believer of the transfer pathway.”

Robinson said that he couldn’t be happier with the commitment he sees at every level of the university to ensuring the best possible experience for every student.

“I’ve seen very few universities who try to get it right every time for every student the way that UC Davis does,” Robinson said.

The efficacy of environment-related activism

Published: The California Aggie. May 27, 2017. View here.


 

At a recent Fossil Free UC Davis (FFUCD) meeting, the ten students in attendance planned for the next steps in the movement to demand that the University of California (UC) divest from corporations tied to fossil fuels. Spirits and hopes remained high despite the meeting which had occurred a day prior with UC officials who, according to group members, repeatedly deflected questions, and despite the sheer magnitude of the 2.5 billion dollars that UC has invested thus far.

“I just felt like this was a campaign that could really shake up the UC and make a big statement,” said fourth-year evolution, ecology and biodiversity major Cameron Clay. “Right now is a really important time for the UC to step up and make this divestment. It just seemed like such a clear connection: UC claims to be a climate leader and it also has 2.5 billion dollars invested in fossil fuels. It’s time to break that relationship.”

FFUCD’s divestment movement is working in conjunction with Fossil Free groups on other UC campuses and recently four chancellors have come out in support of the movement, including Interim Chancellor Ralph Hexter.

On the UC Davis campus, there is an array of politically-active, environment-related groups attempting to effect change. The success of such groups or specific movements can be hard to measure, according to Clay.

“Often a movement will appear unsuccessful because it doesn’t necessarily get its goal, despite a lot of public support and hard work,” Clay said. “For our movement, […if] the UC moved to divest those fossil fuel holdings and never reinvest them, that would be an obvious victory. It is tricky when something can feel like a win and when you can feel defeated despite doing really good work.”

One impact of change-oriented groups can be heightened awareness about a cause. Environmental Justice for Underrepresented Communities (EJUC) is a newer group on campus, formed in Spring of 2016, whose work focuses on increasing awareness of and education about environmental justice. The group has been invited to give educational presentations at Black Family Week and Native American Culture Days.

Yajaira Ramirez Sigala, a second-year sustainable agriculture and food systems and Chicano studies major and the publicity chair for EJUC, said starting the discussion is the “first step towards liberation.” Ramirez Sigala is also an ASUCD senator and she said she has noticed a greater incorporation of environmental justice ideologies in senate discussions since the formation of EJUC.

“It’s not just the few folks who are in EJUC — folks are incorporating it into their dialogue,” Ramirez Sigala said. “EJUC [is] opening a space to have these dialogues about environmental injustices […] in our own communities and our own backyards.”

Recently, the ASUCD Office of Advocacy and Student Representation (OASR) partnered with EJUC for the Flint Water Crisis Learning Demonstration event, in which 112 water bottles – each one symbolizing ten days the city of Flint, Michigan has been without clean drinking water – were displayed near the Quad, wrapped in informational labels alongside educational signs.

“It was supposed to be a very passive demonstration,” said first-year political science major and deputy campus organizing director Parker Spadaro. “We were just trying to raise awareness that it’s still fucking happening, it’s still a huge issue [and] it’s not an isolated incident. Knowing is a great jumping point into getting more involved.”

Incorporating environmental justice into curricula is amongst the list of demands included in a letter EJUC sent to the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Science. The organization has been in contact with the head of the department who has proposed a seminar solely focused on environmental justice – one of the stated demands.

Second-year animal science major Edith Ruiz, the record keeper at EJUC, emphasized the importance of engaging in efforts to effect change.

“Part of our education here at a research institution teaches us that nothing new comes out if you don’t challenge it,” Ruiz said. “If everything stays the same, nothing is going to be improved.”

With the knowledge that action effects change, one success of the three day sit-in FFUCD organized at Mrak Hall was raising awareness, according to third-year ecology, evolution and biodiversity major Seth Strumwasser who is involved with FFUCD as well as Strategies for Education and Ecology Diversity and Sustainability (SEEDS).

“Environmental issues are, in my opinion, the biggest issue facing our civilization,” Strumwasser said. “It feels super helpless when you look at the scale of the problem. I can become a vegetarian and I can recycle, but that’s not going to make a difference. Even if our actions are not going to totally solve the problem, I think the symbolism of it is important.”

In terms of agency, Clay said “it’s hard to feel like you have a real impact.” However, he remains hopeful that the actions of FFUCD will bring about tangible change, especially in light of Hexter’s support following student pressure. Ruiz also said she believes change is inevitable given enough student action.

“What a student can do is great,” Ruiz said. “We can do great things, especially when we come together, […] agree on something and we see it as a common issue. If it’s something that we feel strongly about, I do think student voices are a big power that we have. Our voices can be heard.”

 

Collecting data: Technology’s effect on communication, studies and expertise

Published: Granite Bay Gazette Vol. 19, Issue 2. Friday, Oct. 23, 2015 (can be seen here).

Category: News Gathering

Reason for publication: To give my hypothetical idea that modern technology was having a significant influence on communication I used a variety of published sources and a top expert. Quoted pieces of the published story are followed below by the publication or expert with which they were used from.


 

  •   “According to research published by the Pew Research Center, 89 percent of cellphone users report using their phones during a recent social interaction. Cellphones “are always present and rarely turned off,” according to the Center, which claims that they are directly responsible for new social and communicational difficulties.”

This group of findings published by the Pew Research Center in 2014 surveyed a relatively high number of 3,042 cellphone users for their findings.

 

  •    “A new phenomenon describes the instance of using one’s phone to snub someone else – appropriately dubbed “phubbing.” Researchers at Baylor University have found that increased levels of unhappiness occur as an effect of phubbing.”

Baylor University published this study which found that “phubbing” – phone snubbing – can have detrimental effects on relationships, but also lead to higher levels of depression. Two experts in their field conducted a study which involved 453 U.S. adults and two individual surveys.

  •   “Technology could be the culprit of an even bigger emotional revolution, which has caused a 40 percent decrease in empathy amongst college students. Psychologist Sara Konrath collaborated with a University of Michigan research team to combine the findings of over 70 studies from 1979 to 2009 to conclude the shocking decrease in empathy. In an interview which took place via email, Konrath proposed technology’s plausible influence.”

This publication detailed the finding of over 30 years by psychologist Sara Konrath and her research team at the University of Michigan which concluded that college students have experienced a lack of empathy, speculating it might have to do with increased communication via online sources.

 

 

Collecting data: Effects of sitting equal to effects of smoking, studies and expertise

Published: Granite Bay Gazette Vol. 18, Issue 7. Friday, April 17, 2015 (can be read here).

Category: News Gathering

Reason for publication: To give proof to the statement that the effects of sitting are equal to those of smoking, I used online statistics and a doctor for verification. Below are quoted statements from the published story alongside the publication/expert I found it through.

 


 

  • “‘Sitting is the new smoking’ is the new health-fueled, anti-sedentary behaviors slogan that has linked sitting, among other common sedentary conduct, as a major catalyst that heightens health risks such as cancers, obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and increased risk of death. The American College of Cardiology has found that sitting can be just as detrimental as smoking to one’s health because sitting for prolonged hours of the day increases a person’s risk for such diseases previously mentioned.”

The evidence for the heightened risk for such diseases mentioned was found through the American College of Cardiology’s website, which can be seen here.

  • “Additionally, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found sitting for long periods of time increases risk for colon, endometrial and possibly lung cancer, and a 2008 Vanderbilt study concluded Americans spend an average of 55 percent (or 7.7 hours) of their conscience day sitting, or in other sedentary positions.”

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute published this finding about increased risk for possible types of cancer through research conducted by two experts, alongside an entire department for disease control.

I found the Vanderbilt study concerning the number of hours average Americans spend sitting through this infographic published by juststand.org.

  • “‘High school students do spend a lot of time sitting,’ Dr. Arshia Islam a rheumatologist with UC Davis said. ‘However, whether they are at increased risk of … (having or suffering from) obesity, diabetes, or neck and shoulder pain depends on what they are doing to counteract the risks associated with prolonged sitting.’ Dr. Islam also said the factors contributing to the health problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle include a decreased metabolism – resulting in a decrease of calories burned – potentially leading to obesity and diabetes, as well as poor posture which can lead to musculoskeletal problems.”

Doctor Islam provided her expertise to this story concerning the effects of sitting and the possible solutions for the health risks/damages it causes.

 

  • “One study from Indiana University found five minute walking breaks may reverse sitting-related consequences, however this may not be a practical solution.”

This proposed solution posed by the Indiana University was published online here.

Collecting data: Great gun debate, statistics and polls

 

Published: Granite Bay Gazette Vol. 19, Issue 5. Friday, Feb. 5, 2016 (full post here).

Category: News Gathering

Reason for publication: In order to give solid standing to points made in a story I wrote about gun culture in Granite Bay, California and America, I used various credible sources which I will detail below.


 

Below are excerpts from my Great Gun Debate story followed by the sources with which I received the information.

 

  •    “In terms of guns used with a malicious intent, the degree with which gun violence occurs in the U.S. is higher than rates in other developed nations. According to Professor of Sociology Tom Kando, who is an expert in crime statistics and popular culture, firearms are used in approximately three fourths of all criminal homicides and suicides.”

Professor Tom Kando is a retired sociology professor and has a range of expertise which can be viewed here.

  •    “It is also true that while the U.S.’ gun death rate has decreased by 31 percent since 1993 – according to the Pew Research Center – a Harvard study found that the number of mass shootings since 2011 has tripled.”

The Pew Research study was compiled from information published by the CDC, the DOJ and the Research center’s own surveys. It can be seen here. The Harvard study was compiled from independent research from Harvard and Northeastern students and data published by Mother Jones. It can be seen here.

  •   “While a portion of U.S. residents favor an increase in gun restrictions – approximately 55 percent according to a Gallup poll – others stand strong beside the right to bear arms, guaranteed by the second amendment.”

This Gallup poll surveyed approximately 1,000 Americans over the phone with a sampling error of +/-4. Although the sampling error is larger than I wished for, the confidence level reported among those survey was significantly high – at 95 percent. It can be seen here. It is also important to note that this survey shows that U.S. residents’ desire for increased gun control is not at an all-time peak, which is why I specifically said that only a portion of residents favored increased gun control, although it is a slim majority.

  •    “As reported in a 2012 Congressional Research Service report, in 2013 the number of guns in the U.S. was expected to exceed the total population – 357 million guns compared to 317 million people.”

 

 

I found this article published by the Washington Post in which they use the Congressional Report that I also used. The article explains that it is hard to pinpoint exactly how many guns are in the U.S. at any given time, and it is only assumed that the number of guns exceeds the population. I could have cited their assumption, but chose to instead cite an older source which seemed more credible.

  •  “However, those who stand against gun control remain strongly opposed. These adversaries include Congressman Tom McClintock, who represents California’s fourth district which includes parts of Placer County.

 “‘The best defense against an armed terrorist is an armed American,” read McClintock’s official statement on gun control, sent electronically by his Press Secretary. “That’s what the second amendment is all about.  It is an absolutely essential pillar of our security.'”

This statement from Congressman Tom McClintock can be found here on his website, but it was sent to me in an e-mail by his Press Secretary.

  •  “This opposition to gun control is not shared by all elected officials, including President Barack Obama, who recently committed to reduce gun violence by using a series of Executive Orders. These Executive Orders plan to prevent gun crime by requiring those who sell firearms – whether in person or online – to have a license to do so and conduct background checks. Also, by funding personnel from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to enforce the new gun laws, by increasing investments in mental health care and by asking specific departments, such as the Department of Justice, to conduct investigations into gun safety technology.”

 

I found these facts about President Obama’s newest Executive Order concerning increased gun control through the White House website, in this link.

  •   “The President’s Executive Action will affect other states more than it will California –which is known for having stricter gun laws than most other states. Among other restrictions, California bans certain assault weapons, restricts gun shows, requires a ten day waiting period before individuals can receive the gun they bought and requires that gun sellers have a license and issue background checks – a requirement also seen in the Executive Action. In some cases, in terms of the banning of assault weapons, California’s currently implemented restrictions exceed the level of restrictions in the President’s Executive Order. Because of this, the restrictions may not affect Californians to a great extent.”

I found a list of California’s gun laws and restrictions here, through a post from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, published in 2015.

  •    “Granite Bay itself may have an attitude towards guns different than most cities in California, and even the state of California itself. Placer County is one of the more Republican-dominant counties in all of California, with 45.95 percent of registered Republican residents. Because Republicans are generally more opposed to gun regulations, some speculate that Granite Bay is more open to guns and resistant of restrictions.”

  Finding a list of recent voter partisanship for Placer County was a bit difficult. I ended up finding it on Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s website in a list published for 2015, which can be seen here.