University of California President Janet Napolitano said Saturday that the UC will continue to support undocumented students in the University, and said the University should continue to host controversial speakers because she thinks hateful speech is protected under the First Amendment.
In an interview with the Daily Bruin and other media outlets at the UC Public Service Law Conference, Napolitano said she thinks President Donald Trump’s decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which deferred deportation for undocumented individuals brought to the United States, was illegal. She added that UC Berkeley has spent a large amount of resources to support free speech on its campus.
In response to Trump’s decision to end DACA, Napolitano, who helped create the program when she was Secretary of Homeland Security, said she thinks the DACA program is lawful. She added the UC is suing the Trump administration for illegally ending the program, and hopes Congress will come up with a legal solution for DACA recipients.
“If Congress acts, all to the better, but I think asking the courts to intervene is also appropriate,” she said.
Napolitano said the UC is encouraging eligible DACA students to renew their DACA applications by Oct. 5 and that the University is providing them with free legal services and has raised private funding to help DACA students pay the renewal fee.
She added the UC will continue to accept DACA students to the University.
“We provide as much support and safety to our DACA students as one can in the current environment,” she said.
Napolitano also addressed the cancellation of “Free Speech Week,” an event set to take place in UC Berkeley from Sunday to Wednesday that would have featured various conservative speakers such as Milo Yiannopoulos and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon. UC Berkeley was reported to have planned to spend more than $1 million in security costs for the event.
Napolitano said she thinks UC Berkeley went out of its way to work with the event organizers and facilitate the event. She added it was difficult for the campus to plan logistics for the event because it was unclear whether the speakers would actually attend.
“Not knowing who’s coming, whether they are coming … it’s just a very confusing situation,” she said.
Napolitano added she thinks UC Berkeley has tried to accommodate conservative speakers while maintaining the safety of the campus.
“That’s one of the reasons why the campus has been spending an inordinate amount of time and resource trying to facilitate this event,” she said. “It’s to show that (the campus) is not going to act as a speech censor, but act to protect the safety and security of the campus environment.”
Napolitano also addressed concerns that the University is not adequately supporting its workers.
Outside the conference Saturday, UCLA students and staff protested UCLA’s treatment of valet workers at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Several protesters said many valet workers will be laid off because the university ended its contract with the contractor that employed valet workers at the hospital.
Napolitano said she could not comment on the valet workers protest because she was not involved in the dispute between UCLA and the workers and did not know its details. She added the UC wants to be a fair place to work and that it was the first university system in the country to implement a $15-an-hour minimum wage plan.
Napolitano also discussed the fairness of raising administrator salaries in the midst of workers’ disputes and potential tuition hikes.
At the UC Board of Regents meeting last week, regents raised several chancellors’ salaries by 3 percent, while discussing potential tuition hikes. Napolitano said she thinks the chancellors’ salaries were raised by the same amount as other staff salaries, and that UC chancellors are paid less that their peers in other universities. She added any potential tuition hike will pay for additional faculty and would enhance students’ academic experience.
“I can’t predict whether the regents will raise tuition, but it’s certainly something we’re going to consider,” she said.