Thursday, September 20

Submission: UCLA does not endorse violent disruptions to respectful discussions



Correction: The previous version of this article incorrectly stated Monroe Gorden is the interim vice chancellor of student affairs. In fact, Gorden is the vice chancellor of student affairs.

On May 17, Students Supporting Israel at UCLA sponsored an event titled “Indigenous Peoples Unite.” Protestors entered the room and disrupted the event with enough ferocity that the panelists and audience felt silenced and intimidated.

Thankfully, no one was physically hurt. After the disruptors refused the organizer’s invitation to respectfully join the discussion, UCPD escorted them out of the room so that the event could continue. Video of the incident has circulated online, generating surprise, anger and frustration.

UCLA is a university committed to freedom of expression as well as freedom of inquiry. Even though such commitments require us to protect lawful protest, that does not include disruptions so severe that they effectively prevent speakers from reaching a willing audience. It is one thing to persuade through evidence and argument; it is quite another to interrupt with intimidation.

Given the diversity of our campus, we will be deeply divided on some contentious subjects. How we deal with that division is the challenge. Bullying and insults might be the norm elsewhere, but our UCLA community holds itself to a higher standard – one committed to persuasion and not coercion. Our True Bruin Values require it, and we refuse to settle for anything less.

Many, if not most, of the disruptors were unaffiliated with UCLA. For those outsiders who disrupted the event, we will refer all evidence of wrongdoing to local prosecutors to determine whether they have broken the law. For those who are members of our own community, clear transgressions of university policy will also be addressed appropriately. In doing so, we will be careful about getting the facts right – and not rush to judgment – to remain fair and consistent in our procedures.

We in the administration are committed to continuous improvement. So, we will also use this event to review and revise internal processes to better manage any future disruptions that may occur. We must strive to better communicate what freedom of expression does and does not mean at UCLA, so that all parties clearly understand the rules of engagement for conveying opposing views.

UCLA expects respectful dialogue from everyone on our campus. If we do not hold everyone to that standard, then every organization, community or identity group will be subject to the type of bullying tactics we saw last week. Respectful dialogue is not synonymous with meekness or conformity; to the contrary, it is the ultimate in courage and integrity, requiring us not only to speak but also to listen. The panelists and organizers of the event showed such courage and integrity; the disruptors regrettably did not.

Kang is UCLA’s vice chancellor of equity, diversity and inclusion. Gorden is the vice chancellor of student affairs.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on Reddit

Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.

  • SFLaw

    This “protest” was meant to silence a particular viewpoint using intimidation and bullying tactics. It is no wonder, then, that the disruptors did not show “courage or integrity” — they have none.

  • Teddy Edwards

    What is your evidence that “UCLA is a university committed to freedom of expression as well as freedom of inquiry”, that UCLA “holds itself to a higher standard?” Were the students who interrupted the event in fact detained and identified so a record would exist identify them in the future should they repeat their offensive tactics? Were they suspended, as a bare minimum signal UCLA is “committed”? Where is the follow-up regarding these threatened prosecutions?

    How will you “use this event to review and revise internal processes to better manage any future disruptions that may occur”? Why isn’t the history of tens of thousands of similar such interruptions on thousands of American campuses, including hundreds at UCLA, worthy of study?

    What is the evidence “[m]any, if not most, of the disruptors were unaffiliated with UCLA?” Stop it, Jerry and Monroe. Stop it now.

    You’ve said nothing. But you said what is necessary to justify your high-salaried do-nothing jobs. I’m not offended as such a opinion piece is predictable and inevitable. I just hate the obviously dishonesty of it.

    • Migdia Chinea

      I agree with you. But my comments in agreement and posting vervatim a finding by the state auditor Elaine Howel in regards to UCLA’s failure to allow students to express concerns were removed twice. So there’s your answer. UCLA is a politically correct police state.

      • Migdia Chinea

        The Governor of California President pro Tempore of the Senate Speaker of the Assembly
        State Capitol
        Sacramento, California

        Dear Governor and Legislative Leaders:

        “This report concludes that the universities do not ensure that all faculty and staff are sufficiently trained on responding to and reporting student incidents of sexual harassment and sexual violence. Although staff involved in key roles of the incident-reporting process receive adequate training, certain other employees who are likely to be the first point of contact, such as resident advisors and athletic coaches, do not. By not ensuring that employees are sufficiently trained on responding to and reporting incidents of sexual harassment and sexual violence, the universities risk having their employees mishandle student reports of the incidents. In addition, the universities must do more to appropriately educate students on sexual harassment and sexual violence. The universities should ensure that incoming students receive this education near the time that they arrive on campus, as they may be the most vulnerable to experiencing an incident of sexual harassment or sexual violence in their first weeks on campus. The universities should also provide periodic refresher training, at least annually, to all continuing students. Further, universities should ensure that the content of the education on sexual violence covers all topics outlined in statute.“

  • Harry

    We now know that the university never took any action. It’s been up to the Jewish students who were attacked to file charges. This is shameful.

  • Migdia Chinea

    To Teddy Never mind protesters or organizers first amendment rights. There’s NO commitment to freedom of expression at UCLA. The politically correct line is the only one allowed as Mr. Kang’s disingenuousness exemplifies.

  • Migdia Chinea

    My post was deleted. There’s your freedom of expression.

  • Migdia Chinea

    My comment has been removed twice. There’s no freedom of expression at UCLA.