Non-violent and loud sit-in outside UCI Chancellor's Office 24 February 2010. Photo © Daniel C. Tsang 2010.Sixty-two UC Irvine faculty members earlier today urged UCI Chancellor Michael Drake and the Chair of the Academic Senate, Prof. Alan Barbour, to publicly ask Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas "to drop the criminal charges" against the UCI students involved in the "civil disobedience" outside the Drake's Office on February 24 last year, suggesting that "political action" can better be regulated by campus rather than "external" authorities.
The signatories to the three-page letter, dated today and delivered this morning to the Chancellor's office, notably include four Department Heads: Jared Sexton, Chair of African American Studies, Jennifer Terry, Chair of Women's Studies, Susan Jarratt, Chair of Comparative Literature, and Jim Lee, Chair of Asian American Studies. It also includes two Distinguished Professors, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, of English and Comparative Literature, and Etienne Balibar, of Humanities, French and Italian, and Comparative Literature. One-third of the signatories are Full Professors, the rest mainly Associate Professors.
"We ask that the university return to an environment engaged in teaching and learning. Student activism and campus debate should be treated as teachable moments, lead to open discussions about the meaning of civil disobedience, the history of social movements, and the wide variety of political discourse within our community," the letter urges the Chancellor.
It concludes: "These and other actions can affirm the mission of the university as one of teaching, learning, supporting a wide range of ideas, opinions, and political actions."
There were actually altogether 19 defendants in the case, not all of whom are UCI students, with many active in the UCI Worker-Student Alliance on campus. The protest outside the Chancellor's office had focused on poor labor conditions facing outsourced workers at UCI.
Today's letter comes in the wake of another, signed by 100 UCI faculty members, urging the Orange County District Attorney to drop criminal charges against the 11 Muslim students involved in protesting the talk given last year on campus by the Israeli Ambassador, Michael Oren. That letter was heavily promoted by the UCI Communications Office and posted on the UCI web site as a featured story.
UCI Police begin the arrests of the protesters outside the Chancellor's Office. Photo © Daniel C. Tsang 24 February 2010.
The Full Text of the Letter and Signatories Follow:
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Dear Chancellor Michael Drake:
CC: Michael R. Gottfredson, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
Dr. Rameen Talesh, Dean of Students and Assistant Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs
Edgar Dormitorio, Director, Student Conduct and Assistant Dean of Students
Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D., Interim Vice Chancellor Student Affairs
Alan Barbour, PhD., Chair, Academic Senate
We write to express our concern about the current campus climate regarding student activism, political debate, and social action.
We have been dismayed to learn that the Orange County District Attorney has criminally charged students who engaged in an organized act of civil disobedience on February 24, 2010 outside of the Chancellor’s office in Aldrich Hall. Taking a cue from a long history of activism on University of California campuses, the student coalition had organized a protest to call attention to a variety of pertinent issues on our campus including tuition and fee increases and a hostile environment for students of color. While two students barricaded doors and engaged in other actions that we may not support, political action on campus should be regulated by the university and not external authorities.
Under the purview of the Student Conduct Director of the Office of the Dean of Students, students were placed on academic probation for a year, required to complete 30 hours of community service, a five-page reflection paper on community service hours, and a ten-page paper on the First Amendment. It is our understanding that students have completed or are in the process of completing this punishment set by the university.
On December 9, 2010, these UCI students were charged by the Orange County District Attorney for disorderly conduct. It is our position that this criminal prosecution is incommensurate with the student actions: There was no bodily harm and no property destruction of any kind. The UCI police, not the protesting students, called for an evacuation of Aldrich Hall. Unlike similar incidents, the student protestors were arrested without the usual intervention of the Student Conduct unit. Lastly, it is striking that the criminal charges were filed ten months following the event, two months before the statute of limitation, and on the last day of the quarter.
• We ask that the university explain its role in the Orange County District Attorney proceeding with criminal charges when usually these acts of student civil disobedience have been handled internally.
• We ask that the Chancellor and the Chair of the Academic Senate issue a public statement asking the Orange County District Attorney to drop the criminal charges.
• We ask that the university return to an environment engaged in teaching and learning. Student activism and campus debate should be treated as teachable moments, lead to open discussions about the meaning of civil disobedience, the history of social movements, and the wide variety of political discourse within our community.
These and other actions can affirm the mission of the university as one of teaching, learning, and supporting a wide range of ideas, opinions, and political actions.
Jean-Daniel Saphores, Associate Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering
Paul Dourish, Professor, Informatics
Jared Sexton, Associate Professor & Chair, African American Studies
Scott Bollens, Professor, Endowed Professor in Peace and Intl Cooperation
Francesca Polletta, Professor, Sociology
Lilith Mahmud, Assistant Professor, Women's Studies
Mike Burton, Emeritus Professor, Anthropology
Jennifer Terry, Associate Professor and Chair, Women's Studies
Catherine Liu, Associate Professor, Film and Media Studies
Tiffany Willoughby-Herard, Assistant Professor, African American Studies
Catherine L. Benamou, Associate Professor, Film and Media Studies
Frank Cancian, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology
Rodrigo Lazo, Associate Professor, Department of English
Heidi Tinsman, Associate Professor, History
Cynthia Feliciano, Associate Professor, Chicano/Latino Studies and Sociology
Annette Schlichter, Associate Professor, Comparative Literature
Eyal Amiran, Associate Professor, Comparative Literature and FMS
Jessica Millward, Assistant Professor, History
Etienne Balibar, Distinguished Professor of Humanities, French and Italian,
Victoria Bernal, Associate Professor, Anthropology
Tom Boellstorff, Professor, Anthropology
Jeanne Scheper, Assistant Professor, Women's Studies
Ellen S. Burt, Professor, French and Comparative Literature
Roxanne Varzi, Associate Professor, Anthropology and Film
Keith M. Murphy, Assistant Professor, Anthropology
Robert Garfias, Professor, Anthropology
Julia Elyachar, Assistant Professor, Anthropology
Kris Peterson, Assistant Professor, Anthropology
Steven Topik, Professor, History
Michael Montoya, Associate Professor, Anthropology, Chicano and Latino Studies,
Public Health, Nursing Science
Elizabeth M. Guthrie, Senior Lecturer, SOE (Retired), French
Claire Jean Kim, Associate Professor, Political Science and Asian American Studies
David A. Smith, Professor, Sociology
Luis F. Aviles, Associate Professor, Spanish and Portuguese
Cecelia Lynch, Professor, Political Science
Elizabeth Allen, Associate Professor, English
Daniel M. Gross, Associate Professor and Director of Composition, English
Rebecca Davis, Assistant Professor, English
Deborah Vargas, Assistant Professor, Chicano/Latino Studies
Santiago Morales, Assistant Professor, Spanish and Portuguese
Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Distinguished Professor, English and Comparative Literature
Carolyn Boyd, Professor Emeritus, History
Susan Jarratt, Professor and Chair, Comparative Literature
Karen Leonard, Professor, Anthropology
Rajagopalan Radhakrishnan, Professor, English and Comparative Literature
Irene Tucker, Associate Professor, English
Adriana Johnson, Associate Professor, Comparative Literature
Ivette N. Hernandez-Torres, Associate Professor, Spanish and Portuguese
Charles Chubb, Professor, Cognitive Sciences
James Fujii, Associate Professor, East Asian Languages and Literatures
Dina al-Kassim, Associate Professor, Comparative Literature
Gilbert G. Gonzalez, Professor Emeritus, Chicano Latino Studies
Jon Wiener, Professor, History
Kavita Philip, Associate Professor, Women's Studies
Frank B. Wilderson, III, Associate Professor, Director, Humanities & the Arts,
Drama & African American Studies
Alice Fahs, Associate Professor, History
Lynn Mally, Professor, History
Raul Fernandez, Professor, Chicano Latino Studies/Social Sciences
Laura J. Mitchell, Associate Professor and Vice Chair, History
Arlene R. Keizer, Associate Professor of English and African American Studies,
Director, PhD Program in Culture and Theory
Jim Lee, Chair, Asian American Studies
Rachel Sarah O'Toole, Assistant Professor, History