Sunday, May 24, 2009

Univ. of Cal. President Email on Hateful Speech and Free Expression

(Unconfirmed Email)
Mark G. Yudof, UC President
From: President's Office 
Sent: Friday, May 15, 2009 3:41 PM
Cc: Lawrence Pitts; Charles Robinson
Subject: RE: UCI and the MSU
May 15, 2009
Dear Mr.
Thank you for your e-mail regarding the series of events the University ofCalifornia, Irvine Muslim Student Union is holding entitled,Israel: the Politics of Genocide. As I hope you will understand, because of the number of messages I have received on this subject, I am sending this same response to all.
I am taking the liberty of forwarding the messages I have received, yours included, to Chancellor Michael Drake of the Irvine campus, who is responsible for the organization and operation of the campus. I can assure you, without reservation, that he is very sensitive to the issues involved, deplores anti-Semitism, and is a strong opponent of it. In addition, several people have called my attention to a UC Irvine electronic billboard advertising the MSU series and have questioned the appropriateness of using UC property for such a purpose. Chancellor Drake has assured me that the offending message was removed from the billboard almost immediately. Please know that I have every confidence that the Chancellor and his staff are addressing the complex issues surrounding this series in a manner that will be appropriately responsive to all the parties involved. I am sure that he will be in touch with you to address your concerns.
As you can imagine, it is difficult for me to separate my public role as President of a state university from my private life as a Jewish man who is active in Jewish causes and a strong defender of Israel. Permit me now to remove my cap and gown and to exercise my First Amendment rights as a private citizen. In my opinion, the title of the series is virulent, historically inaccurate, and offensive to Jewish people everywhere. For me to feel otherwise would be antithetical to my life and beliefs.
Having said that, Chancellor Drake is responsible for ensuring members of the campus community at the University of California, Irvineare allowed to exercise their own speech rights. A university is a special place for the exchange of views and ideas, and it is critical that our policies be conducive to a spirited intellectual life. The Chancellor is working tirelessly to ensure that the many voices are being heard irrespective of their content.
In the event you have not seen it, I enclose a copy of a speech I gave last July to the Hadassah National Convention that addresses the issue of freedom of speech on our college campuses and my perspective as a university administrator, a constitutional law scholar, and as a Jewish individual.
With best wishes, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Mark G. Yudof  President  University of California
Flashback May 2008 OpEd:Freedom, however, also carries with it a responsibility for others, like university presidents and leaders in human relations, not to censor, but to unequivocally condemn hate irrespective of which side of a political cause it hides behind.

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