On November 28th, the UC Berkeley Academic Senate, meeting after a string of clashes between nonviolent protestors and campus police, adopted a resolution to condemn UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau for his handling of the situation, and called for a more coherent and humane policy for dealing with nonviolent student protest.
The resolution, co-authored by Profs. Wendy Brown (Political Science), Judith Butler (Rhetoric and Comparative Literature), and Barrie Thorne (Sociology and Gender and Women’s Studies), was passed by a vote of 336-34. The motivation for the resolution was spelled out succinctly in the text:
“This is the third time in two years that such police violence has been unleashed upon protesters at Berkeley, with resulting bodily injuries to protestors, student and faculty outrage, a series of expensive lawsuits against the university, a tarnished university image, and a severely compromised climate for free expression on campus.”
Many had been outraged over a statement issued by Chancellor Birgeneau on November 10th, where he described the human chains students formed on November 9th “not non-violent civil disobedience”, suggesting support for the violent police response seen in the YouTube video above. There had also been growing anger over prior events that escalated due to administrative failures to communicate with the demonstrators and campus police.
While falling short of a “no confidence” vote (the original intent of the resolution), it resolution was a sharp critique of the Chancellor and the administration on violent police response to non-violent protest, and demands that the administration develop a coherent policy “to secure student welfare amidst these protests, and to minimize the deployment of force and foster free expression and assembly on campus.”
Three other resolutions were also passed with similar statements of condemnation of the administration and call for a more tolerant policy toward student protest.