UCLA Faculty’s Open Letter to Chancellor Block

20 Nov

November 20, 2011

Dear Chancellor Block:

In the predawn darkness this past Friday, a large contingent of police arrived on campus to remove a group of students who were peacefully protesting tuition increases, student loan debt, and the collapse of public funding for the University of California. In an act of civil disobedience, 14 students chose to ignore an order to disperse and were arrested.

Their crime, formally, was to violate a campus policy against camping. But in reality they were arrested for engaging in political speech at a time and in a manner that did not please the campus administration. For this political action, they may face disciplinary proceedings.

As UCLA faculty we call on you, to drop any charges that may be pending against these students. The freedom to debate controversial topics is at the core of university life. The students occupying Wilson Plaza on Thursday night were not posing a health or safety risk. They were not disrupting the educational mission of the university. They were holding ongoing discussions—what they call a “general assembly”—to share information and experiences, and decide together how to face the future.

So far UCLA has avoided the bitter conflicts between campus police and students that we have seen at Berkeley and Davis. However, you will recall that in 2009 UCLA Police engaged in questionable use of force that injured students and triggered an internal review. While different people may have different perceptions of the Review’s conclusions about the use of force in 2009, no one would disagree with their reaffirmation that “[w]hen members of the university community peaceably assemble to challenge some aspect of University governance, their rights to advocacy must be respected.” (44)

We have a chance to find another path at UCLA. As UCLA’s own “Principles of Community” declare, “We are committed to ensuring freedom of expression and dialogue, in a respectful and civil manner, on the spectrum of views held by our varied and diverse campus communities.” As anyone visiting the protest site can attest, the protesters were upholding their end of this charge—far better than we see in most of the political debate in this country. To stifle their voice would shortchange the future. At both Davis and Berkeley, campus police have deployed deplorable violence and injured students and faculty. On both campuses, police introduced violence while students, staff, and faculty were engaged in peaceable protest. We call on you to ensure that UCLA does not follow in their footsteps and fail to uphold the principles for which the University stands.

We urge you to drop all charges and disciplinary proceedings against the students arrested in Wilson Plaza, and also to respect students’ rights to protest the pressing issues of our political, social, and educational life.


Tobias Higbie Associate Professor of History

Michael Meranze, Professor of History

Jenny Sharpe, Professor of English and Women’s Studies

Michelle Clayton, Assoc Prof Comp Lit & Spanish & Portuguese

Chris Looby, Professor English

Nouri Gana, Assoc Prof Comparative Literature

Jan de Leeuw; Distinguished Professor and Chair, UCLA Department of Statistics

Joseph Bristow, Professor English

Saree Makdisi, Professor English

Steven Nelson, Associate Professor of African and African American Art History

Carole H. Browner, Professor Anthropology

Jeffrey Prager, Professor of Sociology

Jessica R. Cattelino, Associate Professor of Anthropology

Jack Chen, Associate Professor Asian Languages & Cultures

David Delgado Shorter, Associate Professor World Arts & Cultures

Noah Zatz, Professor of Law

Katherine King, Professor Comparative Literature

Matthew Fischer, Assistant Professor English

Gerry A. Hale, Emeritus professor, Geography Department

Peter McLaren, Professor, Graduate school of Education and Information Studies

Michael Cooperson, Associate Professor NELC

Andrea Goldman, Assistant Professor History

George Baker, Associate Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art

Allen F. Roberts, World Arts & Cultures/Dance

Susan Curtiss, Professor Emeritus, Linguistics

Henry A. Hespenheide, Professor Emeritus of Ecology

Kathleen A. McHugh, Professor, Department of English, Cinema and Media Studies Program

Valerie Matsumoto, Professor, History and Asian American Studies

Sondra Hale, Professor, Anthropology and Women’s Studies

Elizabeth DeLoughrey, Associate Professor, English

Stephen Yenser, Distinguished Professor, Department of English

Robert Brenner, Professor of History

Vinay Lal, Associate Professor of History

Sharon Traweek, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies and History

Susan Slyomovics, Professor of Anthropology and Near Eastern Languages & Cultures

Susan L. Foster, Distinguished Professor, Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance

Teofilo Ruiz, Professor of History, Spanish & Portuguese

Rafael Perez-Torres, Professor of English

Jason Throop, Associate Professor, Anthropology

Kenneth L. Karst, Price Professor of Law Emeritus

Susan Plann, Professor of Applied Linguistics and Spanish & Portuguese

Alex Purves, Associate Professor of Classics

Helen Deutsch, Professor of English

Yogita Goyal, Associate Professor of English

Michael Salman, Associate Professor of History

Jan Reiff, Associate Professor of History

Chris Tilly, Professor of Urban Planning

Grace Hong, Associate Professor Women’s Studies and Asian American Studies

Lowell Gallagher, Associate Professor English

Arthur Little, Associate Professor English

Carollee Howes, Professor Education

A. J. Julius, Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Robin Lauren Derby, Associate Professor of History

Jonathan H. Grossman, Associate Professor of English

Robert N. Watson, Distinguished Professor of English

Andrew Apter, Professor of History & Anthropology

Calvin Normore, Professor of Philosophy

Victor Bascara, Associate Professor of Asian American Studies

Ching Kwan Lee, Professor of Sociology

Francoise Lionnet, Professor of French and Francophone Studies

John McCumber, Professor of Germanic Languages

Michael Chwe, Associate Professor, Political Science

Michelle Erai, Assistant Prof. Women’s Studies

Felicity Nussbaum, Professor of English

Mishuana Goeman, Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies

Sherry Ortner, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology

Anurima Banerji, Assistant Professor, Department of World Arts and Cultures

Laure Murat, Associate Professor of French & Francophone Studies

Shane Butler, Professor of Classics

Elizabeth Upton, Assistant Professor of Musicology

Sorin Popa, Professor of Mathematics

Elizabeth Marchant, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies

King-Kok Cheung, Professor of English and AsianAmStudies

Zrinka Stahuljak, Associate Professor of French & Francophone Studies

James Gelvin, Professor of History

David N. Myers, Professor of History

John Dagenais, Professor of Spanish and Portuguese

Timothy Taylor, Professor of Ethnomusicology/Musicology

Gary Blasi, Professor of Law

Barbara Herman, Professor of Philosophy

Joanna Schwartz, Acting Professor of Law

Thu-huong Nguyen-vo, Associate Professor, Asian Languages and Cultures and Asian American Studies

Namhee Lee, Associate Professor of Asian Languages & Cultures

John Carriero, Professor of Philosophy

Brian Kim Stefans, Assistant Professor of English

George Dutton, Associate Professor of Asian Languages and Cultures

Samuel Cumming, Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Law

Sheldon Smith, Associate Professor of Philosphy


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