From the chancellor: A message on safety

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks sent this message to the UC Berkeley community late today:

To the Berkeley community,

I am writing to follow up on this morning’s message regarding free speech, safety, and Ann Coulter’s planned appearance on our campus.

While Ms. Coulter has now stated that she will not come to Berkeley tomorrow, the University of California Berkeley Police Department (UCPD) has seen evidence of and continues to plan for potentially violent demonstrations and counter-demonstrations on Sproul Plaza throughout the day.

Our goal — tomorrow, and always — is to ensure the safety of those in our campus community while also protecting the First Amendment rights of those who wish to gather on our public campus. It is likely that the majority of those who demonstrate tomorrow will do so peacefully, but UCPD is aware that there are individuals and groups unaffiliated with campus who have clearly stated their intention to use violent tactics in support of their respective causes. As such, I would like to share some specific information about staying safe.

First, we encourage students and staff who do not wish to participate in or be affected by the events tomorrow to choose alternative transportation routes that avoid the Sproul Plaza area.

For those who will pass through Sproul, we urge you to follow several guidelines that will both help keep you safe as well as ensure that UCPD can best respond to any criminal activity. If you see violence occurring, separate yourself and keep a distance. Doing so will not only help keep you out of harm’s way, but will prevent criminals from acting without fear of repercussion under the cover of a larger crowd. Report what you see to police if you can do so safely, and follow police instructions. UCPD will be using the text and email messaging service Nixle to keep the campus at-large informed about major developments throughout the day.

For those who do wish to demonstrate tomorrow, we encourage you to review our standing suggestions regarding how to protest safely. We encourage you to think critically about your actions and not react to provocations of others. If the actions of those around you are not consistent with your own values and goals, remove yourself from the situation. Again, follow police instructions — if you choose to remain in the area where violence is occurring, you may be subject to arrest, removal, or police use of force. Our campus will not tolerate acts of violence or the destruction of property in our community, and UCPD will dutifully investigate, arrest and prosecute anyone who commits crimes on our campus.

While most campus services and facilities will be operating as usual tomorrow, access at both Sproul Hall and the Martin Luther King Student Union will be restricted. Faculty, students, and staff with classes, work and appointments in those buildings should bring their Cal 1 campus identification cards with them. Services including Cal Student Central, the Financial Aid Office, and the Office of the Registrar will remain open, but individuals are encouraged to use available online services. Other services including the Cal 1 Card office, Golden Bear Café, Eshleman Hall, and the Career Center remain open but may close at midday depending on safety and operational needs.

Please know that if you or anyone you know needs additional support during this tumultuous time, the campus has several resources (Dean of Students Office, Tang Center Social Services, information on reporting hate crimes, Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination, Student Legal Services) available for your use. Remember, you can and should contact law enforcement directly if you experience physical harm, direct threats, or emergency situations.

Please take care of yourselves and each other.

Sincerely,

Nicholas Dirks
Chancellor

Earlier today, Dirks sent another message about Coulter’s then-impending visit. Read it here.