Chancellor White’s Friday Letter of January 20, 2012
For me this has been a week full of great sadness and worry, great pride, and deep disappointment over opportunity lost. No wonder this Letter is late today… I admit to being a bit spent!
At the beginning of the week, we learned that two graduating seniors were gravely injured in a car accident a few miles from campus. Chris Lee and Regan Moore have been heavily committed to UCR and fully engaged in their academic and living communities. We are all pulling for them to survive.
On Wednesday night, I joined several hundred students and others from campus and student affairs at the Bell Tower. I found the candlelight vigil to be sad and sobering, and at the same time inspiring and hopeful.
Parents and siblings were there and spoke, as did close friends. They have latched on to little signs of hope.
Hope. Community. Unity. Those three elements were so profoundly visible that chilly Wednesday evening… and when we gather together in really dark moments to provide support and encouragement, it makes me proud to know the strength of our community is genuine and strong.
We hosted the UC Regents meeting in the HUB on Wednesday and Thursday, and I was so very proud of our students, staff and faculty who let their voices be heard about the profound concerns and challenges about access, affordability and high quality…elements that are under great duress across the UC. Community leaders also came forward to encourage the Regents’ continued support of our emerging School of Medicine.
And special kudos to our staff, who organized every detail of food, transportation, facilities, safety and communications. I heard over and over from our guests about the special warmth, caring and pride of Highlander Hospitality.
One of our undergraduate students, Chris LoCascio, presented to the Regents a different approach to funding UC. He had worked for nine months with other students, as well as UCR and UC finance people, to design a plan they call FixUC. This concerned group of students, raising their voices and offering thoughtful solutions, garnered national media attention.
But then we lost opportunity because of the behavior of a small number of individuals. Their behavior briefly and peacefully shut down the Regents meeting, on the cusp of an engaging and provocative discussion of innovative solutions to funding UC going forward. Their actions, while making a point to disrupt and while remaining nonviolent, nonetheless prevented others from listening to the discussion by denying public access to the remainder of the meeting.
I was disappointed by that, because it was an amazing opportunity for many, lost by the behavior of a few. These few protestors claimed victory for what was actually a loss.
Several Regents, including Chair Sherry Lansing, met with eighteen of our students after the official meeting ended, and reported a fascinating, difficult, thoughtful, respectful, inspiring and helpful dialogue. That session got no media attention.
Because of the disturbance of a few individuals outside the meeting venue, we needed to use our police to ensure the safety of meeting participants as well as the overwhelming majority of protest participants who were non-violent students and community members engaged in peaceful protest and exercising their right to free speech.
While many of you may be exposed to media treatments of the meeting, what you may not learn is that nine officers received minor injuries, as barricades were thrown at them and signs used as weapons. Yet only two individuals were booked for alleged felony assault of police officers. These two individuals were older men from Los Angeles and Corona…not UC students.
We never seek to use force. But the reality is that some individuals became unlawful aggressors and dangerous to others. Despite several warnings to stop, they chose not to do so. That is a choice that has consequences. And while our co-workers who are police exercised great restraint, they did need to use force at times on Thursday outside the meeting venue to protect themselves and ensure safety for others.
Tim White, Chancellor
Share your ideas: http://fridayletters.ucr.edu/leavefeedback