Campus & community, Campus news

Responding to the events of Feb. 26

"What happened on Monday, Feb. 26 is unacceptable," leaders write.

By Public Affairs

Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Ben Hermalin sent the below message on Monday, March 4.

We write with an update about our response to last week’s protest at an event featuring a speaker from Israel.

As we stated in last week’s message, what happened on Monday, Feb. 26 is unacceptable. In the wake of protesters’ efforts to shut down the event, a criminal investigation has been launched. We intend to gain a complete picture of what happened and hold accountable individuals or groups responsible for violations of the law and/or our policies. 

After we sent last week’s message, UCPD and OPHD received reports that two of the Jewish students who organized the event, as well as some of the attendees, were subjected to overtly antisemitic expression. UCPD is investigating these two alleged incidents, which also included allegations of physical battery, as hate crimes. They are also investigating other reports of illegal conduct, including one additional allegation of physical battery upon a student. One criminal suspect has been identified to date, for trespassing. Our Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination has also opened a separate discrimination investigation. 

Interviews are being conducted and video evidence is being reviewed. We urge anyone who has information about crimes to contact UCPD.

We will now reevaluate and modify our security preparations in the current environment of heightened disagreement about issues that connect to the identities of many people in our campus communities.

This university has a long history of commitment to and support for nonviolent political protest that respects the First Amendment rights of others. That is not what occurred on Feb. 26. It was not peaceful civil disobedience. We condemn it in the strongest possible terms.

Every student, every member of our community, has a right to feel safe and welcome, and a true sense of belonging regardless of their identity or perspectives."

Nor can we turn a blind eye towards the hatred and stereotyping at the heart of all forms of bias and discrimination. While hateful expression may be protected by the Constitution, we still have a responsibility to respond by working to protect and support targeted communities and by marshaling the educational resources of the university to confront the ignorance at the heart of bias.

Political protest is about opposition to an idea, action or policy. Antisemitic expression is a frightening attack on an entire people. Every student, every member of our community, has a right to feel safe and welcome, and a true sense of belonging regardless of their identity or perspectives. All members of our community, no matter their political views, should feel safe on our campus. Our commitment to these values is nonnegotiable.

We continue to urge all community members to immediately report any harassment or discrimination to our Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination, and any alleged crimes or threats to the University of California Police Department. These reports are a necessary step to respond appropriately and quickly to behavior or expression that violates the law and/or our rules. 

We are confident that the UC Berkeley community will rise to meet the opportunities and challenges we face.