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Berkeley chancellor: We share many principles associated with OWS

Robert Birgeneau, chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, sent a campus-wide e-mail yesterday urging students to be respectful of campus property and obey university rules during a rally at noon on Wednesday, November 9. Organizers of the event have called for students to walk out of classes, organize teach-ins, and participate in peaceful demonstrations.

Birgeneau expressed support for the young protesters who identify with the Occupy Wall Street movement, but also urged them not to resort to violence or vandalism:

UC Berkeley as an institution shares many of the highest principles associated with the OWS movement.  It is here at Berkeley, and at many other campuses across the country, where so many young people acquire the knowledge and skills that enable them to live fulfilling lives without unreasonable economic stress.  In fact, more than one-third of our undergraduate students come from families who earn less than $45K a year; it is through their Berkeley education that these students and, often, their entire families are able to move into the American mainstream. …

With that said, and as a model of the right to free speech, assembly and activism, we encourage our entire community to act responsibly and show the world what we are known for – a place where the best and brightest youth, staff and faculty from all socioeconomic backgrounds work collectively to solve world problems. …

*Encampments or occupations of buildings are not allowed on our campus.  This means that members of our community are free to meet, discuss, debate, and protest, but will not be allowed to set up tents or encampment structures.

*Any activities such as pulling fire alarms, occupying buildings, setting up encampments, graffiti, or other destructive actions that disrupt or interfere with anyone’s ability to conduct regular activities – go to class, study, carry out their research etc, — will not be tolerated and will be subject to the campus Code of Student Conduct: http://students.berkeley.edu/uga/conduct.pdf

*As always, our normal operating hours on this campus will be adhered to; this means that most buildings will be closed by 10 PM.

In these challenging times, we simply cannot afford to spend our precious resources and, in particular, student tuition on costly and avoidable expenses associated with violence or vandalism.   Rather, these funds should be spent on urgent needs such as financial aid for low income students including those who are undocumented, increased numbers of GSI’s, increased library hours etc.

The president and vice president of the Associated Students of the University of California–UC-Berkeley’s student government–also emailed campus yesterday, offering support for the rally:

This coming Wednesday, November 9, students and community members will join together in a Day of Action to draw attention to the current crisis in higher education. As California continues to struggle with its budget, social services across the board have witnessed unprecedented cuts and higher education has not been exempt. These reductions have resulted in higher fees forcing students to bear a heavier burden in funding our own education.

This is part of a larger national conversation about wealth distribution and misguided priorities at all levels of government. The only way to solve this growing disparity is to invest in public education. As student leaders at the premier public university in the world, we stand with students across the nation in raising awareness around these issues and compelling our elected leaders to respond. …

While Wednesday’s events are important, this dialogue cannot end here. We encourage all students to join us in our efforts to lobby our elected officials at the state and federal levels to halt continued reductions in funding and identify new sources of revenue.

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  • Milan Moravec

    University of California hijack’s our kids’ futures: student loan debt. I love University of California (UC) having been student & lecturer. But today I am concerned that at times I do not recognize the UC I love. Like so many I am deeply disappointed by the pervasive failures of Regent Chairwoman Lansing, President Yudof, Chancellor Birgeneau from holding the line on rising costs & tuition increases. Paying more is not a better education.
    Californians are reeling from 19% unemployment (includes: those forced to work part time; those no longer searching), mortgage defaults, loss of unemployment benefits. And those who still have jobs are working longer for less. Faculty wages must reflect California’s ability to pay, not what others are paid.
    Current pay increases for generously paid University of California Faculty is arrogance. Instate tuition consumes 14% of Ca. Median Family Income!
    Paying more is not a better education. UC Berkeley(# 70 Forbes) tuition increases exceed the national average rate of increases. Chancellor Birgeneau has molded Cal. into the most expensive public university.
    UC President Yudof, Cal. Chancellor Birgeneau($450,000 salary) dismissed many much needed cost-cutting options. They did not consider freezing vacant faculty positions, increasing class size, requiring faculty to teach more classes, doubling the time between sabbaticals, cutting & freezing pay & benefits for chancellors & reforming pensions & the health benefits.
    They said such faculty reforms “would not be healthy for UC”. Exodus of faculty, administrators? Who can afford them and where would they go?
    We agree it is far from the ideal situation, but it is in the best interests of the university system & the state to stop cost increases. UC cannot expect to do business as usual: raising tuition; granting pay raises & huge bonuses during a weak economy that has sapped state revenues & individual Californians’ income.
    There is no question the necessary realignments with economic reality are painful. Regent Chairwoman Lansing can bridge the public trust gap with reassurances that salaries & costs reflect California’s ability to pay. The sky above UC will not fall when Chancellor Birgeneau is ousted.

    Opinions? Email the UC Board of Regents

  • Ugh

    So when did the Occupy rioters become guided by “principles”? And what are they?

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  • Wayne M

    The problem indeed is rising costs of going to school. If we really want to solve the problem, then we need to start at the top and eliminate the Dept of Education. It’s a states issue. When the states cannot send all of this money to schools, they will find a way to cut costs, reduce costs and salaries. Take that to the bank. Protests on campus will not solve this issue. I know we have little choice in choosing candidates any longer because they all are liars and crooks. So, if you really want to protest the issue, then take it to the steps of Capitol .

    I wonder how many of these people honored our veterans today, who fought and died for them to have the right to assemble?

  • Milan Moravec

    Like Coaches, University of California campus Chancellors Who Do Not Measure Up Must Go. UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau’s campus police use brutal baton jabs on students protesting increases in tuition. UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau ($450,000 salary) is in dereliction of his duties.

    UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau’s campus police report to the chancellor and the campus police take direction from the chancellor. University of California (UC) campus chancellors vet their campus police protocols. Birgeneau allowed pepper spray and use of batons to be included in his campus police protocols.

    Birgeneau needs to quit or be fired for permitting the brutal outrages on students protesting tuition increases.

    Opinions? Email the UC Board of Regents [email protected]