Last night, an incident occurred on campus that we believe crossed the line of civility, prompting me to re-emphasize our position on free speech, safety and mutual respect.
The incident centered on a film-viewing event sponsored by Students Supporting Israel. A group of protesters reportedly disrupted the event, blocking exit paths. Participants feared for their safety, calling on our police force for assistance.
While this university will protect freedom of speech, that right is not absolute. As I mentioned in a campus message at the beginning of the academic year (freespeech.uci.edu), threats, harassment, incitement and defamatory speech are not protected. We must shelter everyone’s right to speak freely – without fear or intimidation – and allow events to proceed without disruption and potential danger.
We are thoroughly analyzing all reports and information regarding this incident and investigating whether disciplinary or legal actions are appropriate.
The month of May is filled with cultural celebrations and remembrances that highlight the diversity of this brilliant campus. Please respect your colleagues’ right to recognize their heritage and express opinions in a safe environment.