Protest Response Team outlines ‘evolving approach’ to campus unrest

Feb. 21, 2012

To the Campus Community,

 As co-chairs of the campus’s new Protest Response Team, we wish to describe our evolving approach to responding when protests occur that violate campus policies.  So far this semester, there have been two such protests: occupation of the Anthropology Library in Kroeber Hall for over two days; and encampments on the steps of Sproul Hall and Doe Library that spanned more than one week.

In both cases, we have used the following guidelines in shaping Berkeley’s response

1.  The timing and manner of campus responses will consider the seriousness of the disruption to campus operations.

2.  When possible, campus leaders will be patient and will choose the time and manner of responding to unlawful protests that will minimize the prospect of physical harm.

3.  Because the form that disruptive protests take can change rapidly, decisions will be context-specific.  This means that the campus’s response to a given protest may differ from its response to other protests.

4.  The campus’s response to an unlawful or disruptive protest will never be determined by the nature of the issue the protesters are raising.

5.  In some circumstances, deans, department chairs, and other faculty members may be effective communicators with protesters, and the campus will work closely with them to support their efforts. 

6.  The campus leadership has included additional faculty members in its deliberations about responding to protests that violate campus rules or the law.  These include the chair of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate and two faculty administrators: the Vice Provost for the Faculty and the Dean of the Graduate division.

7.  While recognizing that police must at times respond to emergency circumstances, we will attempt to ensure that any decision to authorize police engagement, or to escalate or de-escalate police engagement, will be made only by a fully briefed senior administrator, who will be on-site during police actions.

These guidelines proved helpful in reaching peaceful resolutions of the protests in Kroeber and Sproul/Doe.

We will soon provide information on steps we intend to take to improve communication on issues that are important to the campus community.  While we already have a number of ways of reaching members of our community we recognize that we can always do more and be more effective.

Sincerely yours,

George W. Breslauer
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

John Wilton
Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance