The much-anticipated protests of August 26-27 ended with the evaporation of the right-wing protests even before they began. It is not clear whether there was “no there there” from the beginning; whether the right-wing groups retreated in the face of the anticipated huge crowds, already angered by the events in Charlottesville; or whether it was fear of antifa. No doubt this will give pause to those who have invited Yiannopoulos, Coulter, Shapiro and Bannon to our campus.
The Board of the BFA met to discuss the issue of free speech last Wednesday, supported by expert advice from an ACLU lawyer. While we understand the Chancellor’s commitment to free speech and the university’s obligation to adhere to the legal doctrine of “content neutrality,” nonetheless we are wary of eulogizing free speech. We want to stress two limitations: first, the context of inequality that inhibits the democratic potential of free speech and second, the importance of condemning speech that endorses inequalities and limits the rights of others.
The focus on free speech must not distract us from other issues, such as the disastrous roll-out and huge cost of the new HR and payroll system, UC Path, exposed last week by another report from the state auditor. One report after the next points to the problematic mode of governance coming from UCOP, supported by the Regents.
Chair of the BFA.