November 10, 2023

Standing Against Bigotry at the University of California

Dear Anteater Community: 

Today, I joined University of California President Michael V. Drake and the UC chancellors in issuing a forceful condemnation of incidents of bigotry, intolerance and intimidation that have taken place on UC campuses over the past several weeks. We must be crystal clear: discrimination, threats, violence and hate have absolutely no place in a university community dedicated to open-mindedness, respect and mutual understanding. Our full message appears below.

More than denounce bigotry, though, we must also actively work against it. President Drake will be sharing a series of systemwide initiatives in the coming weeks to address the current university climate, and my administration will be launching its own set of efforts to strengthen community and reaffirm our values in this period of intense strife.

This is urgently needed. There are very different viewpoints about the relationship between anti-Zionism and antisemitism, but it must be remembered that Regents Policy 4403: Statement of Principles Against Intolerance calls on University leaders “actively to challenge anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination when and whenever they emerge within the University community.” The report leading to the creation of this policy condemned not only to overt expressions of antisemitism but also “antisemitic forms of Anti-Zionism.” We must also stand against any speech or actions that promote Islamophobia, because as stated in the Regents Policy, real harm arises from contemporary manifestations of historical biases, stereotypes, and prejudices, which is why all members of the university community have a responsibility to “foster an equal learning environment for all, in which all members of the community are welcomed and confident of their physical safety.”

Thus, I urge every member of our campus community to express themselves in ways that are mindful of the impact of their speech on others, and to aspire to speak in ways that, while passionate, promote a campus culture of mutual respect.

Our Student Affairs professionals remain in close contact with all students impacted by campus and world events to ensure they are receiving all the support they need and that they understand how to report acts they believe violate the law or university policy.

Finally, because we are an institution of higher education and not merely a forum for political protest, it is vital that we encourage learning and reflection informed by the best scholarship, and we will work with our academic community and others responsible for educational programming to deepen our knowledge and understanding of the relevant issues, including the roots and contemporary manifestations of antisemitism and Islamophobia. On these topics as with many others, we could use more light and less heat.

Fiat Lux.

Chancellor Howard Gillman

University of California President Michael V. Drake, M.D., and the 10 University of California chancellors sent the following message today (Friday, Nov. 10, 2023) to members of the UC community:

To the University of California community,

We write today to condemn the alarming, profoundly disappointing acts of bigotry, intolerance, and intimidation we have seen on our campuses over these past several weeks. It is our shared responsibility to maintain a sense of community where everyone feels safe and welcome.

Some of the rhetoric we have seen and heard over the past month at campus protests, online, in student government meetings, and in classrooms has been shocking and abhorrent. Let us be clear: There is no place for hate, bigotry, or intimidation at the University of California. Period.

Antisemitism is antithetical to our values and our campus codes of conduct and is unacceptable under our principles of community. It will not be tolerated.

Similarly, Islamophobia is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. We will work to ensure that those who advocate on behalf of Palestinians can also be confident of their physical safety on our campuses.

It is our collective responsibility to foster a safe and welcoming learning, living, and working environment while also promoting the principles of free expression and academic freedom. We take our obligation to uphold the First Amendment seriously, even when the viewpoints expressed are hateful or repugnant. We cannot censor voices or ban groups we disagree with, so long as those voices and groups comply with state and federal laws and with university policy.

But free speech is not absolute, and violations of policy or law will have consequences. Regents Policy 4403: Statement of Principles Against Intolerance calls on UC leaders “actively to challenge anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination when and whenever they emerge within the University community.” We will uphold this policy. Our campuses have and will continue to impose consequences on behavior that crosses the line into unprotected speech, such as persistent harassment of individuals or groups, or credible threats of physical violence. We will also take steps against any violations of the law or university policy such as disruptions of university activity, violence, or vandalism. Our educators must continue to provide a supportive and welcoming environment for all students and avoid using classroom time for improper political indoctrination.

And while words matter a great deal — and we stand firmly by the words we share today — this is also a time for action. Over the coming days, President Drake will announce a series of initiatives to help us address the current climate on our campuses, provide additional support for our students, staff, and faculty, and improve the public discourse on this issue.

Members of the UC community may have differing opinions on the Middle East conflict, but our stand on intolerance and intimidation in our own community is unequivocal: We will not stand for it, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that the University of California is a safe community for all.

Michael V. Drake, M.D.
President, University of California

Gene Block
Chancellor, UCLA

Carol Christ
Chancellor, UC Berkeley

Howard Gillman
Chancellor, UC Irvine

Sam Hawgood
Chancellor, UCSF

Pradeep Khosla
Chancellor, UC San Diego

Cynthia Larive
Chancellor, UC Santa Cruz

Gary May
Chancellor, UC Davis

Juan Sánchez Muñoz
Chancellor, UC Merced

Kim Wilcox
Chancellor, UC Riverside

Henry Yang
Chancellor, UC Santa Barbara