Jeff Wason, University Relations
9 update on events that took place on campus during the day
8 statement by Chancellor Robert Berdahl: civil debate and reasoned
discourse must prevail
We have all watched the unfolding events in the Middle East,
the escalation of violence there, the lack of progress toward
a peace settlement, with much concern and with profound sadness.
Here on the Berkeley campus, many members of our community
members of our faculty and staff, and numerous students
have family and friends in the region and are deeply concerned
for their well-being. They tell me of the effort to stay in
contact with family, friends, and professional colleagues by
telephone and email. This is an extremely difficult time for
them and for all of us.
Clearly, for those who are directly affected by the conflict,
and for many who see the conflict from the viewpoint of either
the Palestinians or the Israelis, the violence arouses deeply
felt passions and convictions. For most of the campus community,
and for people everywhere, it is not about taking sides, but
about finding a means to end the suffering on both sides. It
is about hope for a solution that stops the fighting and brings
peace and respect for the people caught in this terrible bloodshed.
As many of you know, on Tuesday Jewish students and students
supporting Palestine have scheduled events. Jewish students
will be holding a vigil in commemoration of the millions who
perished in the Holocaust. Palestinian students will be having
an event to commemorate those Palestinians who perished in a
massacre in the war in 1948. Both groups have every right to
participate in these activities.
Given the volatility of the issue, and the extreme passions
that exist, however, I feel it is important to again remind
our students and the public at large of the responsibility of
the University in these circumstances. This University has a
proud history in the defense of free expression. It is our responsibility
to provide a neutral forum for individuals and groups to advocate
their cause. It is our responsibility to provide an environment
for civil discourse to take place that is safe for all participants.
Most importantly, it is our responsibility to protect the rights
of all members of the campus community to pursue their reason
for being here the work of teaching, learning, and research
uninterrupted by anyone.
We do not expect everyone to think alike. We expect people
to disagree. We expect people to express their differences forcefully.
While we can not prevent people from saying ugly and hurtful
things, hateful statements, whether anti-Jewish or anti-Arab,
are reprehensible. Further, let me make clear that we will not
tolerate any action that threatens the physical well-being of
anyone. Acts of violence or vandalism or personal attack have
no place here and will be treated as criminal actions.
Let me close by calling upon everyone in our campus community
and beyond to show that even in exceptionally troubling times
times when passions and emotions run deeply the
great value of a university is that it is a free and ordered
space in which civil debate and reasoned discourse can prevail.
I implore everyone to help us preserve this valuable principle.