Message from Dave Kliger regarding March 4

To: The Campus Community

From: Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor David Kliger

In the wake of last week's demonstration, I have heard from many students, faculty, and staff, and I would like to take a moment to share my thoughts with you.

As befits a university campus, the calls and messages reflect a broad range of views, from those who wish I had praised the protesters to those who criticize me for failing to prevent demonstrators from blocking access to campus. I appreciate all of you who have taken the time to communicate with me.

The campus protests on March 4 were part of a national day of action in support of greater funding for public education, a cause I wholeheartedly support. As I have said before, I appreciate advocacy on behalf of UCSC, and I encourage people to express support for the university without violating the rights of others. That endorsement certainly includes those who choose to engage in peaceful public protest.

I have heard from professors who hiked to classrooms and lecture halls last Thursday to honor their commitment to their students. I know others came to campus with more mixed emotions, while some faculty members chose to hold classes off campus or to support students in other ways. Staff also responded to the day with a range of strategies: many telecommuted, some came to work at the crack of dawn or made other arrangements so they could serve the campus, others took a furlough day, and many told me they would have provided service but were thwarted by those who blocked campus entrances. Student input has ranged from those who believe last week's actions were entirely appropriate to many others who felt frustrated and angered by the disruptions.

I want to emphasize that the tactics embraced by a handful of protesters evoked a range of reactions among students, faculty, and staff. One professor wrote that she had planned to bring a carload of students to campus to join the protest but changed her mind upon learning that masked protesters were using threats and intimidation to discourage motorists from entering campus. In the end, her words reflect the views of many who contacted me. She wrote that although she is delighted to see students and faculty standing up for the noble cause of education, she was dissuaded by a strategy that she wrote "goes against every peaceful sit-in that I took part in during the 1970s--and we were able to stop a war that time."

There is room for a range of views about last week's protests. With due respect to those who disagree, I simply do not support the tactics of a small group of people who chose to impose their views on the majority through acts of intimidation, violence, destruction of property, and disruption of campus operations. Their actions suggest a disturbing lack of tolerance for diverse points of view. Daniel Simmons, a professor of law at UC Davis and vice-chair of the UC Academic Senate, published an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee that expresses the sentiments of many in our campus community.

UC Santa Cruz is a dynamic and vibrant community with a proud history of engagement and public protest. There are strong opinions on all sides regarding the best tactics and strategies. I appreciate the variety of viewpoints, and I encourage you to reach out to colleagues and fellow students, particularly those who disagree with your own views, to foster free and open discussion.


David Kliger