Chancellor Gene Block of UCLA addressed students in person at an impromptu sit-in regarding the recent events at UC San Diego that were triggered by a racist-themed party called “Compton Cookout”. The sit-in at UCLA occurred in front of the Chancellor’s office in Murphy Hall on Friday afternoon at around 2:30 p.m.
“So for those of you that I don’t know, I am Gene Block. I am the Chancellor at UCLA, the new chancellor, and I am here to talk you about the events, not only of this morning but events that have been going on for about a week. I am personally deeply, deeply disturbed by what has happened at UC San Diego. This has been such an obvious lack of respect for students of our community, I find it terrible. I have talked with the Chancellor of UC San Diego, who I believe, she is deeply disturbed by what’s happening at her campus, perhaps a bit overwhelmed. It’s a terrible thing to happen on any campus –it’s my worst nightmare, something like this, it’s just terrible to have such bad behavior. I do know that a couple of folks have been identified this morning having been involved in the recent but I don’t know the actual status of the investigation at this point. The 10 chancellors, including Chancellor Fox, have crafted a statement that will go out to the entire UC community. And the statement, I believe, deals explicitly with the values of this institution and how we view the behavior that has occurred recently. And I would like to read it. It is not perfect word for word…it hasn’t been approved yet by our academic senate. But I want to share with you –I have approved it, so the small changes, I’ll review small changes, but I don’t think this will change much. It says:
As leaders of the University of California, we are deeply disturbed by the recent events at a few of our campuses. We condemn all acts of racism, intolerance, and incivility. Regardless of how such offenses are rationalized, or what free speech rights they purport to express, the acts we have witnessed are unacceptable. The actions of these individuals reflect neither our principles nor our values, nor the sentiments of the vast majority of the University of California community. We will not allow the actions of a few to speak for this University. We denounce them.
Each of our campuses is committed to promoting and defending a learning environment that values and supports each student, faculty and staff member in an atmosphere that is open, civil, fair, caring and respectful. These values are enshrined in the “Principles of Community” each campus adheres to and that clearly outline our expectations for the behaviors on our campuses. We expect that all members of our university communities, including our visitors, will be respectful of differing views, opinions, experiences and backgrounds.
When violations occur, it is incumbent on us, as leaders and as stewards of free speech on our campuses, to fight back. We have a responsibility to speak out against the activities that promote intolerance or undermine civil dialogue. As always, the remedy for bad speech is good speech. For that reason, we call on all members of the UC community –students, faculty, and staff – to affirm and defend the values of the University of California. We are speaking out and asking each of you to do the same whenever, wherever and however you confront behavior that violates the principles and values of the University.
This is a statement by all 10 chancellors, again, supporting the right of all of us to go to school with dignity, safety and respect through our entire community. I share your anguish over the events that have happened. It’s my worst dream, it’s not what you want to happen on a great university campus. It’s certainly not what I want to ever see happen on this campus. And I will work with your leadership to make certain that together, we create an environment here, an environment at UCLA that will be supportive. And we will help the students and we’ll be as supportive as we can to students of other campuses so that they can enjoy the same respect and civility that we expect on our campus. But as Chancellor of UCLA, my primary concern is, of course, your education, your feeling of safety on this campus and respectful interactions amongst our students. And I will work tirelessly to make sure you get the education you deserve in an environment that you deserve. I apologize what has happened, as a leader of the campus, I feel badly about all this and I will do everything I can to try prevent actions like this from happening…”
Later in the evening, the Chancellor sent an e-mail to the campus community with a revised version of the statement, signed by UC President Mark Yudof and all the other UC chancellors, read at the sit-in.