Skip to main content

A time to reflect and move forward together

Carol Christ, Chancellor | September 28, 2017

The past several weeks have been trying ones for Berkeley.

In demonstrating our firm commitment to the free speech protections of the First Amendment, this week we have seen speakers come to campus who brought with them ideas that run counter to our Principles of Community and to our belief in the fundamental value of every individual in our institution.

To provide the security necessary to protect the community, we have had to close buildings, relocate students and workers, bring to campus a police presence that some find intimidating, and spend money that we would have much rather put toward our academic and research mission.

In the midst of all of this, we have also seen messages of hate written in chalk on campus, posters attacking students and professors, targeted harassment via social media, physical confrontations, and other acts destructive both to individuals and to the kind of inclusive community we so strongly seek to cultivate at Berkeley.

I recognize, and deeply regret, the harmful effects that these incidents have had on students, staff and faculty. I condemn in the strongest terms those who challenged the identities of our community members and who, in a cowardly way, called out or attacked individuals on posters or online. For many who were not directly targeted, I know that these events and the campus response affected your ability to study, work, attend class, participate in activities and more – and I am sorry for that disruption.

Berkeley today faces unprecedented pressures that all of us – students, staff, faculty, administrators – must do our best to understand and to navigate. Universities like ours have been targeted by outside groups to serve as the symbolic stage for intentionally provocative performances and political rallies. In an era of political division, we greatly need reasoned discourse, yet too often we hear inflammatory language, and see violence as a response. Many in our community are troubled by the growing tension between the protections guaranteed to free speech under the constitution and their sense of social justice. These weighty issues present formidable challenges for Berkeley and its community.

We have much to learn from the events of the last few weeks. I am appointing a commission whose membership will include multiple stakeholders—students, faculty, staff, administrators – to study this complex set of issues and propose solutions. To be clear, we will never restrict speakers based on their viewpoint, and student organizations will continue to be permitted to invite speakers of their choosing to the campus. Policy changes will be made narrowly, only in service of minimizing cost and disruption.

I would like to again thank the entire community for your patience and understanding as we work to uphold dual commitments to free speech and to ensuring that Berkeley is a place where people from all backgrounds feel safe, welcome and supported. I would like to extend particular thanks to the many individuals within the divisions of student affairs, equity and inclusion, public affairs, legal affairs, and UCPD, who put in so many extra hours to serve the campus over the last few weeks. I am grateful for all of your efforts as we continue to shepherd Berkeley through a difficult – but important – chapter in our campus’s long history.

Comments to “A time to reflect and move forward together

  1. P.S. The belief I posted yesterday was shot down by Robert Reich today:

    His conclusion for Millennials was: “It’s up to you – the Millennials – to fix a system we Boomers broke.”

    Therefore, the Millennials shall have to repair the democracy and civilization that politicians have broken, and they cannot depend on intellectuals to fix it for them regardless of what Will and Ariel Durant concluded.


  2. I find it impossible to accept that Berkeley as “home to some of the world’s greatest minds” cannot dedicate resources to saving the human race from out of control global warming, violence and inequalities before the climate changes we are now experiencing destroy too many opportunities to produce and perpetuate an acceptable quality of life for all future generations.

    We have been warned about the destructive forces of the Power of Money far too many times for far too many years, like back in the 60s when President Eisenhower gravely warned us in his 1961 Farewell Address, when Edward Teller told members of my class that he expected to achieve fusion power generation to meet the needs of humanity by the end of the 20th century and Linus Pauling championed our paramount need for Peace while he was at UCSD. It appears that the Powers That Be have marginalized these warnings and created the greatest threat to the human race in history..

    I continue to believe that preeminent Berkeley leaders like you Chancellor Christ, Robert Reich and Dan Farber shall find a way to unite your colleagues in time to save the human race from itself.

  3. P.S. Robert Reich updated our decline and fall failure mode on his blog yesterday in his latest post
    “America’s Shkreli Problem”:
    “The Shkreli personality disorder can be found on Wall Street, in the executive suites of some of America’s largest corporations, in Hollywood, in Silicon Valley, in some of our most prestigious universities, and in Washington. If you look hard enough, you might even find it in Trump’s White House.”

    Prior to this time this failure mode was defined by historians Will and Ariel Durant, as documented in The Story of Civilization, when they concluded “When a civilization declines, it is through no mystic limitation of corporate life, but through the failure of its political or intellectual leaders to meet the challenges of change.“

    We still have a most definite need for intellectual leaders to save us from our political leaders, but Reich has now warned us that even intellectuals still remain one of the gravest threats to the future of the human race today.

    Reich’s update makes my impossible dream to save and protect the human race even more impossible.

  4. Chancellor Christ, when is Berkeley going to follow the recommendation in
    ” Why more scientists are needed in the public square”?

    We are rapidly running out of time to save an acceptable quality of life for future generations from the out of control consequences of global warming we are experiencing today?

    “Berkeley is home to some of the world’s greatest minds leading more than 130 academic departments and 80 interdisciplinary research units and addressing the world’s most pertinent challenges.”

    I most strongly urge you to rededicate Berkeley, with the greatest sense of urgency, to saving and protecting the human race from global warming.

  5. Gravest threats to the survival of the human race include global warming, violence and inequalities.

    In order to produce solutions that guarantee the survival the human race, scholars must inform, educate and motivate the peoples of our planet to demand leaders who practice truth and morality as their paramount principles of behavior.

  6. Chancellor Christ, I have been very happy that you are the Chancellor of Berkeley.

    But we still don’t seem to be joining together to fight for the survival of the human race and guarantee an acceptable quality of life for our newest generations even though global warming, worldwide violence and inequalities continue to destroy us faster and faster.

    This is a time when the Power of Money can destroy us more than any other time in history as our representatives in Washington appear to completely ignore the needs of We The People, placing the lives and future of even our children at increasingly outrageous risk.

    Time is running out as we lose opportunities to save ourselves with the resources we still have left.

    Must it really be true that our brains aren’t wired to protect us from ourselves!

    Can we still join together one more time, like we did during the Revolutionary War and WWII, to find and implement ways to fight for survival the human race or is this our final impossible dream?


    1. Historians Will and Ariel Durant documented the key failure mode in The Story of Civilization when they concluded “When a civilization declines, it is through no mystic limitation of corporate life, but through the failure of its political or intellectual leaders to meet the challenges of change.“

    2. President Eisenhower warned us in his 1961 Farewell Address “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.”

    3. Our CALIFORNIA alumni magazine documented another failure mode in our 2006 Global Warning special issue cover story, “Can We Adapt in Time?”

  8. Disingenuous car mechanics earn more money
    than 80+% of college grads
    because they know how to charge
    for unnecessary procedures
    and bill at outrageous rates
    to gullible fearful customers.

    “In anticipation of potentially violent protests, the campus paid an estimated $600,000 in security expenses for conservative author Ben Shapiro’s visit Thursday, according to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof.”
    ( Elise Ulwelling, Daily Cal)

  9. Chancellor Christ, it is no surprise that Berkeley is once again providing leadership with efforts to produce an acceptable quality of life for the human race like we did in the 60s.

    Historians Will and Ariel Durant concluded in “The Story of Civilization”:

    When a civilization declines, it is through no mystic limitation of a corporate life, but through the failure of its political or intellectual leaders to meet the challenges of change.

    We are experiencing destructive events including global warming, violence and inequalities, and I trust that you and Berkeley intellectuals shall produce innovation and actions to meet the challenges of change we face today.

      • The question remains, “Can we handle it?”

        We The People created the answer by uniting to win the Revolutionary War and WWII.

        But we also failed when Us/Them dichotomies produced the Civil War and hatreds that overrun Washington again today.

        Can our intellectual leaders teach We The People to meet the challenges of change that Will and Ariel Durant warned us about, or shall we allow ourselves to destroy yet another civilization?

        • It has been 4 weeks since I posted my “Berkeley, We Have A Problem!” comment above and tragedies keep occurring with no political or intellectual leadership in sight to produce and implement solutions to save the human race from self-destruction.

          Yesterday, National Geographic published the following:
          “Current Climate Pledges Aren’t Enough to Stop Severe Warming”

          The academic culture has totally failed to communicate with the public because, as Hofstadter warned us in 1963, you “don’t want to take on the sort of complications and impurities that come from being public” so our newest generations are already paying the price.

          Berkeley, Time Is Running Out!

Comments are closed.