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UC Regents tables vote on Item J1 until May meeting

Signs put up by community members participating in a sit-in outside the Luskin Conference Center are pictured. The sit-in aims to protest the UC Board of Regents’ Item J1, which was tabled for vote Wednesday. (Megan Cai/Photo editor)

By Catherine Hamilton

March 20, 2024 4:56 p.m.

The UC Board of Regents voted Wednesday to delay its decision on Item J1 – a policy that would prohibit University departments from making political statements on their website homepages – until it reconvenes in May. 

The motion to delay the vote until the board’s May meetings passed unanimously and was the second time the regents delayed a vote on the policy since January. The discussion of Item J1 – known as the “Adoption of Regents Policy on Public and Discretionary Statements by Academic Units” – began during an open joint session between the Academic and Student Affairs Committee and the Compliance and Audit Committee.

The UC Office of the President declined to comment further and pointed to the regents’ decision.

Many community members have expressed concern that the policy will limit the academic freedom of University employees. Students and community members began a sit-in Tuesday night to call on the regents to vote against Item J1, citing concerns that it specifically limits pro-Palestine speech.

[Related: Protesters sit-in at Luskin Conference Center ahead of UC Regents vote on Item J1

The session opened with remarks from Regent Jonathan Sures, who proposed the policy, emphasizing the University’s commitment to academic freedom. 

“Much has been said in the press by some of the detractors of the policy that it is in violation of free speech and academic freedom,” Sures said during the meeting. “Nothing could be further from the truth.” 

As the regents attempted to give an overview of the policy, they were met with chants of “Shame on you!” by members of the audience and ultimately vacated the room. One member of the audience called the regents cowards as they left the space. 

“We know that this is a genocide,” the audience member said. “All you are are just arms of the U.S. empire, and we will not stand for it.” 

The meeting was moved to a closed session for the Finance and Audit Committee, and protesters were asked to leave the room. 

“We have been asked to ask anyone who does not want to be arrested to leave,” a regent official said to the audience.

Around 2:30 p.m., the Academic and Student Affairs Committee restarted its discussion of Item J1 in a livestreamed open session with limited public attendance, where regents heard from the University’s general counsel and shared their thoughts on the policy. Some regents had opposing views about how the policy might limit academic freedom and when the policy should be voted on. 

UC President Michael Drake said he does not support voting on Item J1 now but hopes the regents continue to refine the text and logistics of the policy. 

“I still do not feel the policy is finished and ready,” Drake said in the meeting. “Time would allow us to do a better job.” 

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Catherine Hamilton | News editor
Hamilton is the 2023-2024 News editor and a Copy staff member. She was previously the 2022-2023 national news and higher education beat editor and a national news contributor. She is also a third-year gender studies and political science student minoring in professional writing.
Hamilton is the 2023-2024 News editor and a Copy staff member. She was previously the 2022-2023 national news and higher education beat editor and a national news contributor. She is also a third-year gender studies and political science student minoring in professional writing.
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