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Pro-Palestinian protesters shut down UC regents meeting over plan to limit faculty website statements

Pro-Palestinian protesters on Wednesday succeeded in temporarily shutting down a University of California Board of Regents meeting as members reviewed a systemwide proposal to rein in controversial statements on departmental websites that purport to represent the entire faculty.

The regents’ discussion on the topic during their meeting at UCLA was repeatedly disrupted by chants of “shame on you,” forcing them to call for police assistance and vacate the room, according to several news reports.

“Many individuals chanted, causing the regents to ask for police intervention and adjourn the meeting for about an hour. The livestream was cut during this time, and it is unclear if any arrests were made,” the Daily Californian student newspaper reported.

“We know that this is a genocide,” one protester said as the regents left the room, the Daily Bruin student newspaper reported. “All you are are just arms of the U.S. empire, and we will not stand for it.”

An Instagram post from the activist group By Any Means Necessary celebrated the shut down of the meeting, posting a video showing several dozen demonstrators clapping and shouting in the board room “no justice, no peace, we want free speech.”

“UC regents meeting was shut down! We can defeat this censorship proposal and attack on the supporters of the Palestinian Struggle,” the group stated on Instagram. Many of the demonstrators wore keffiyehs, a Palestinian scarf.

In the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorists attacks against Israeli civilians that killed 1,200-plus, and the subsequent Hamas-Israel war it prompted, many faculty departments within the nine-campus University of California system have published statements on their websites supporting the Palestinian cause and accusing Israel of genocide.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the “proposal would ban commentaries from an academic unit’s main homepage and require them to be placed on a separate opinion page with a disclaimer that the comments don’t represent the university’s position.”

“Before publishing statements, campus departments must put them to an anonymous vote of their members and explain on behalf of whom the opinions speak. Departments also will be required to develop standards to govern the process.”

For example, a statement published March 8 on UC Santa Barbara’s Feminist Studies department website, prominently linked on its homepage, states that the “faculty in the Department of Feminist Studies are unflinching lovers of freedom and proud members of the collectives at UCSB fighting for Palestinian liberation and an end to the genocide in Gaza.”

But it does not offer a disclaimer on whether all faculty in the department agree with the statement, and appears to speak on behalf of all faculty in the department.

While the topic is currently hyper-focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, departmental websites have also been used in recent years for statements that advance progressive political stances and support Black Lives Matter.

When the regents resumed their meeting “with limited public attendance,” some expressed opposition to the proposal, arguing it might limit free speech, the Californian reported. A vote has been postponed until May.

“I still do not feel the policy is finished and ready,” UC President Michael Drake said at the meeting. “Time would allow us to do a better job.”

MORE: Time for real consequences on campus for violent protests

IMAGE: Instagram screenshot

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Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.