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UC Irvine Academic Senate Issues Letter to Students

The UC Irvine Academic Senate Issued The following letter was issued to UCI students via email today, March 4, 2010.

A Statement by the UC Irvine Academic Senate Cabinet regarding the events of February 8, 2010

The events surrounding Ambassador Oren’s February 8th speech on campus has placed UCI in a world-wide spotlight. In the wake of extensive editorials, letters, phone calls, and e-mails to offices and individuals on campus, the Academic Senate would like to reaffirm the fundamental principles by which we operate. These values at UCI include open access to information and the opportunity to engage in lively debate within a context of mutual respect. The UC mission statement says “the distinctive mission of the University is to serve society as a center of higher learning, providing long-term societal benefits through transmitting advanced knowledge, discovering new knowledge, and functioning as an active working repository of organized knowledge” (UC Academic Plan 1974-78). The open exchange of ideas is a crucial component of building knowledge and understanding. And because public service is one of our three main goals, UC venues serve as valuable public resources and community gathering places. The UCI Academic Senate takes seriously its obligation to help protect UCI as a place where all campus groups have equal access to campus facilities, where they feel free to invite speakers to express their perspectives, and where others with opposing views have an opportunity to express their ideas. In order to realize these goals, we must safeguard invited speakers’ ability to deliver their speeches and protesters’ ability to protest in appropriate ways (i.e. stating a contrary position without preventing the speech from proceeding).

Our system of shared governance gives the Academic Senate, the representative body of the university faculty, the power to exercise control over academic matters (such as courses, admissions and degrees). Although the Senate doesn’t have direct authority over the protection of free speech on campus, our Council on Faculty Welfare is charged to “advise the Chancellor and other officers of the campus administration on matters concerned with the faculty’s welfare, diversity, academic freedom…” In light of this charge, the UCI Council on Faculty Welfare, Diversity and Academic Freedom has developed the following statement:

Council on Faculty Welfare, Diversity, and Academic Freedom (CFW) Statement

The Council on Faculty Welfare, Diversity, and Academic Freedom (CFW) endorses the principle that the free exchange of ideas, especially on subjects where different viewpoints are passionately held, is central to the mission of the university and must be protected and preserved, and that this free exchange of ideas is facilitated and encouraged by an atmosphere of civility. We endorse the principle that all members of the academic community should have the opportunity to protest the words and actions of others as long as these protests do not disrupt or intimidate others in the expression of their views and opinions.

We may disagree with the ideas and perspectives of speakers at UC Irvine, but as members of an academic community dedicated to the examination and debate of issues of importance, we are committed to creating an atmosphere in which the examination of competing ideas can occur without disruption or intimidation. Recent events suggest UC Irvine can do better in this respect.

We endorse Chancellor Drake’s efforts to organize discussions focusing on methods to improve communication and civil dialogue on the campus, and encourage all members of the academic community to support and participate in these efforts. It is important that UC Irvine support actions that allow the expression of different and passionately held opinions while simultaneously creating an atmosphere of free and open debate on contentious issues.

Judith Stepan-Norris, Chair, Academic Senate Alan Barbour,
Chair-Elect, Academic Senate
Mary Gilly, Chair, Council on Academic Personnel
David Pan, Chair, Council on Educational Policy
Bill Parker, Chair, Council on Faculty Welfare
Jennifer Skeem, Vice Chair, Graduate Council
Lyman Porter, Chair, Council on Planning and Budget
John Crawford, Chair, Council on Research, Computing and Libraries
Richard McLeary, Chair, Council on Student Experience
Bruce Berg, Chair, Council on Undergraduate Admissions & Relations with Schools

Endorsed: March 2, 2010

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March 4, 2010 - Posted by | Free Speech, UC Irvine | , , , , ,

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