Students call for resignation of top UC Berkeley officials

UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor Harry Le Grande speaks to the protesters on Sproul Plaza.
Anna Vignet/Senior Staff
UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor Harry Le Grande speaks to the protesters on Sproul Plaza.

A group of UC Berkeley students has launched a petition demanding the resignation of four top UC Berkeley officials, including Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, for what it calls “their betrayal of the people’s trust” during the Nov. 9 Day of Action and Occupy Cal demonstrations.

The petition, which has 54 signatures as of the time this post was written, calls on Birgeneau, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Harry Le Grande, UCPD Chief Mitch Celaya and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer to step down immediately, condemning  “the gross violations of Constitutional protections and basic principles of human decency that they sanctioned on Wednesday.”

Read the petition here:

Resign, effective immediately.

The U.C. Berkeley Faculty Caucus has begun gathering signatures for a petition decrying the use of violence against peaceful protesters on campus on November 9th, 2011, and calling for a statement of no confidence in Chancellor Birgeneau and his administration. We — a coalition of graduate and undergraduate students of the University of California and allies of public education more broadly — wish to go further.

We are calling on U.C. Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau, U.C. Berkeley Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Breslauer, U.C. Berkeley Vice Chancellor LeGrande and U.C. Berkeley Chief of Police Celaya to resign, effective immediately.

On Wednesday, November 9th, 2011, Dr. Birgeneau, Dr. Breslauer, Mr. LeGrande and Mr. Celaya violated the public trust. They authorized officers of the University of California Police, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department and the Oakland Police to use force in breaking up a peaceful protest. They have told us that the protesters overstepped their bounds by attempting to set up an encampment on University property. We ask how the enforcement of a University policy could trump the Constitutional protection of free speech and free assembly. We ask, further, how this policy justifies the extraordinary violence that the police directed at student, faculty, staff, alumni and community protesters, all of whom were non-violently resisting. The police response Dr. Birgeneau et al authorized turned the setting-up of seven tents into an occasion for brutality, injury and mass resentment.

Dr. Birgeneau, Dr. Breslauer, Mr. LeGrande and Mr. Celaya, as senior members of the U.C. Berkeley administration, should stand with the 99% by supporting the Occupy Cal encampment and calls for Wall Street corporations and the super-rich to pay their fair share for refunding public education. By authorizing police violence, they are promoting the interests of the 1%, including the many U.C. regents who sit on corporate boards. They have defaulted on their responsibilities to protect students and steward the University of California in these difficult times.

U.C. Berkeley has a venerable legacy of protest that is an inspiration to many around the world. What is especially grotesque is that Dr. Birgeneau et al continue to insist that they are the inheritors and defenders of this legacy, even as they routinely avail themselves of police violence to silence free expression. We reject their rhetoric as so many lies, and stand in solidarity with those who are truly fighting for peace and justice – from Egypt to Chile, and from New York to Oakland.

Given their betrayal of the people’s trust, and the gross violations of Constitutional protections and basic principles of human decency that they sanctioned on Wednesday, November 9th, 2011, we consider Dr. Birgeneau, Dr. Breslauer, Mr. LeGrande and Mr. Celaya unfit to lead the University of California in keeping with its ideals. We ask that they step down immediately.

Soumya Karlamangla is the assistant city news editor.

Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comment policy
  • Facepalming UC Politics
  • Cocoaangel559

    As a cal alumni C/O ’07, who attended chancellor’s Birgenau’s talks when he first came to the university, praising our activist free speech movement history, I thought wow a real liberal who would stand against the regents conservatism. So naturally upon getting his email letters about the occupy brutality, and the police shooting, I feel ashamed and betrayed. Cal’s stock has gone down. I am frankly appalled by how  in the face of real activism he hypocritically defaults to the same tactics employed by Regan and Chancellor Kerr used against the free movement protesters that gave cal its prestige. Next time he sends me one of those support Cal letters, I’ll be forwarding my donations to STANFURD, until he resigns.

  • Princeton67

    Let’s see: Berkeley has 35.838 students as of Fall, 2010 (from berkeley.edu). 
    And 54 signed this petition.
    How about a headline reading
    “35,784 Students Have Not Called for Resignation of Top UC Berkeley Officials”?

    • http://www.facebook.com/desiree.perry.395 Desiree Perry

      They never said when it started. You shouldn’t assume. =)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Beau-Martin/516572313 Beau Martin

    54 signatures makes news? Really?

  • Completely Serious

    “Students call for resignation of top UC Berkeley officials”

    But they do this after EVERY protest.

  • Five Oh Needs 5150d

    if only they would resign…
    but they won’t b/c they are
    i) DELUSIONAL and
    ii) LACK THE CAPACITY FOR SHAME and
    iii) MORALLY BANKRUPT

    the second is true beyond any shadow of a doubt,
    else at least one of them would have jumped from a tall building by now.

  • disgusted

    Great career move!
    Beat the tution paying students.  The police brutality won’t end until they beat the kid with the high powered defense attorney father.  $$$$$$$ — the only thing the 1% can relate to.   Whoever was in charge has more than their current job to worry about…. can you say lawsuit?

  • Somebody

    The trust between students and administration has been broken, there can be no future dialogue with these people.  Administrators should resign immediately.  This is now a disgusting chapter in the history of Berkeley and the University of California.

    • http://anonymoustroll.myopenid.com/ anonymous

      Good, they shouldn’t dialogue with law-breakers and malcontents in the first place.

  • je

    Regents are the ones that need to change… Democratize the regents and other things will change. Singling out these Administrative heads is a waste of time — they’ll just get someone else to replace them.

  • Jonahstein

    The faculty needs to join this movement and suspend all classes until the Chancellor resigns.

  • CalGrad

    Most of the people signing that aren’t even from the Bay area, let alone “Cal Community”

    • http://profiles.google.com/1kenthomas Kenneth Thomas

      Really?  Here’s the current list:
      SAMUEL ENGLAND
      (BERKELEY, CA)

      4 minutes ago

      Jessica Lozano
      (Seattle, WA)

      7 minutes ago

      Christopher Anderson
      (Berkeley, CA)

      8 minutes ago

      Joseph Rosen
      (Berkeley, CA)

      11 minutes ago

      Jacob Metcalf
      (Santa Cruz, CA)

      13 minutes ago

      Chris Schildt
      (Berkeley, CA)

      15 minutes ago

      Lauren Kinney
      (Los Angeles, CA)

      16 minutes ago

      Eric Tseng
      (San Jose, CA)

      16 minutes ago

      Ryan Perry
      (Oakland, CA)

      18 minutes ago

      Noah Friedman-Biglin
      (Berkeley, CA)

      20 minutes agoLooks pretty Bay Area to me,  troll!   And since I’m a Cal grad currently in Tennessee,  I think we can assume an occasional signature from Seattle,  could be from another grad.

      • Anonymous

        Cal is a public university, “The University of California”. For the people of California. Why shouldn’t they be involved too? In addition to graduates, students, etc.

        • http://profiles.google.com/1kenthomas Kenneth Thomas

          Hey,  I’m on the side of those signing!  Just pointing out that the guy above wasn’t even correct,  most of the signatures so far look to be Berkeley-area.

          • Anonymous

            sorry Kenneth Thomas, I didn’t mean this as a reply to you, but to CalGrad … I wasn’t able to delete it. I’m on your side!

    • Anonymous

      So?? Why is that a problem?

    • Anonymous

      Cal is a public university, “The University of California”. For
      the people of California. Why shouldn’t they be involved too? In
      addition to graduates, students, etc.

  • then what?

    Ronald Reagan was perfectly happy to fire Clark Kerr over his handling of Berkeley protests in the sixties. And J. Edgard Hoover was thrilled with this too–the FBI had been following and targeting Kerr for years.

    Think about what comes next: who appoints chancellors? Is it really likely that the the current Regents and UC President would appoint more enlightened administrators? This petition advocates a strategy that, if successful, would be a huge win for the forces of privatization. Actions like this crafted in the heat of outrage can easily be myopic. Look to the horizon.

    • http://profiles.google.com/1kenthomas Kenneth Thomas

      Well,  then, obviously,  it would be time to Occupy Sproul, demand a true voice in the next appointments, and change the ridiculous “governance” of Cal,  as well.    Let an assembly of Faculty and Student Body appoint their leadership;  get rid of the water-bill President and make the regents largely ceremonial.

      • http://anonymoustroll.myopenid.com/ anonymous

        That sounds like a good way to destroy the University.

    • Guest

      I don’t agree with the police brutality, but I don’t see the administration’s fault in this. The students could have sat down and just let themselves be arrested.  Reagan actually did a lot worse including riot gas from helicopters on the same plaza.

  • Anonymous

    Calls for Birgeneau to resign over this issue are idiotic.  This group suffers from a serious lack or perspective.  The haughty tone taken in the letter is embarrassing.  The inclusion of the “senior members of the U.C. Berkeley administration should stand with the 99% ” bit  gives the impression that the petitioners believe the chancellor ought to step down for his political beliefs.  That is outrageous.

    • Nikola1tesla

      He SHOULD resign for his political beliefs- Under the guise of “globalization” he is raising the price of tuition and selling Cal admissions to wealthy foreign nationals (not US immigrants) rather than safeguarding places for Americans in a STATE school. That leaves fewer and fewer places for Americans who pay for this school, and more places for the progeny of 1% rich aliens to come learn how to build everything from businesses to governments to nuclear bombs.  Really– isn’t this a political issue for you?  

      • Anonymous

        As what has been happening for the last several years, Middle Class (Students) will be bearing the brunt of paying the increased tuition while not being eligible for financial aid, while subsidizing those who do get it (now including Ab 131 Students), while they do not have to be as competitive in GPA levels.

    • http://profiles.google.com/1kenthomas Kenneth Thomas

      Lack of perspective?

      Birgeneau order police to attack non-violent resistance with force.  No amount of equivocation changes that fact. 

      Were they resisting?  Sure they were.  Does the police and administration have the (legal) right to compel one to dispurse an otherwise lawful gathering on public property?  That’s entirely another question.

      To have Birgeneau and his stooges claim that linking arms is “violence?”  That’s absurd– and a plain-faced lie.

      What Brigeneau deserves,  is not to be allowed to quietly resign (Penn State),  but to be arrested for conspiracy to commit felony assault.

      • http://anonymoustroll.myopenid.com/ anonymous

        It wasn’t lawful. They were erecting tents, which is explicitly prohibited by the campus. Such a prohibition is viewpoint-neutral, and thus can be enacted by the government, as even the most liberal First Amendment scholar will tell you.

      • Completely Serious

        They erected tents (illegal) and ignored lawful dispersal orders from Police Officers (also illegal).

        Sorry, the protesters were in the wrong on this one.

        • Anonymous

          That’s right, completely serious.  They deserved to be bludgeoned.  That is how we establish ourselves as the deserving standard  bearer for freedom and justice.  By brutally beating young nonviolent protestors who break the law.

          • Stan De San Diego

            They weren’t “bludgeoned” so get over the hyperbole. It only makes you look silly.

          • Anonymous

            OK, I’m willing to be corrected.  What would you say the cops were doing with their billy clubs?  Certainly in the face of, you know, brutal beatings, I wouldn’t want to look “silly.”