The matter of “free speech” is not going away. While Chancellor Christ valiantly defends her free speech absolutism, Department Chairs wonder about the enormous cost of securing the campus with the impending visits of Shapiro, Yiannopoulos, and Coulter. The cost comes at the same time as departments bear the brunt of budget cuts. The chairs of Ethnic Studies, African American Studies, and Gender and Women’s Studies have written a letter to Chancellor Christ expressing concerns about the physical safety of our community and about the potential threat to our core missions of teaching and research. One might conclude that it would be better to have Yiannopoulos et al speak in our splendid refurbished stadium, far from the classrooms and campus activities.
The Council of UC Faculty Associations (of which BFA is a member) has published a tougher statement, suggesting criteria for excluding speakers who are likely to incite violence.
As the news summaries below underline, the media have used the mostly peaceful protests against the anti-Marxist protests of last Sunday (August 27) to defame Berkeley. Should we take this into account as we move forward?
While our attention is riveted to these important matters of free speech, other issues are under discussion such as the Regents’ proposal to rescind the 70% Floor for the University’s Aggregate Annual Contribution to the Retiree Health Benefit Program. This will be discussed at the November Regents’ Meeting. And soon we could be facing the repeal of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) — both the Chancellor and the University President have made strong statements defending DACA. Nor should we neglect the more general issue of the effect of privatization and budget austerity on inequality within our campus and on the deterioration of education. Inequality, after all, cannot be separated from the real effectiveness of free speech.
Chair of the BFA.