Chancellor’s statement to ASUC Senate cut short by calls for resignation

Chancellor Robert Birgeneau speaks to the ASUC Senate in Stanley Hall. Over 90 students and members of the public attended the meeting.
Kevin Foote/Senior Staff
Chancellor Robert Birgeneau speaks to the ASUC Senate in Stanley Hall. Over 90 students and members of the public attended the meeting.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s address to the ASUC Senate was cut short Wednesday night after an interruption from protesters demanding his resignation.

Birgeneau spoke for about 10 minutes in front of an audience of around 90 people before being interrupted. In that time, he said state budget cuts have forced the UC Board of Regents to increase student tuition multiple times over the last few years, and began to explain how the campus has started to compensate for the declining state funding.

“In many ways, every single one of us is committed to excellence and increasing access. People should be able to attend Berkeley no matter what their family income is,” Birgeneau said.

But as he started talking about the campus’ efforts to increase its number of out-of-state and international students to compensate for decreased state funding, Yvette Felarca — a local teacher and national organizer for the activist group BAMN — abruptly called for Birgeneau to resign through a human mic check characteristic of the Occupy Cal movement.

“Chancellor Birgeneau, you need to resign,” she said through the mic check.

Subsequent efforts by ASUC President Vishalli Loomba and Executive Vice President Chris Alabastro to quell the commotion in the room and resume Birgeneau’s address were unsuccessful, as protesters began chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, Chancellor Birgeneau has got to go.”

The chancellor left the meeting immediately without finishing his statement. The senate then decided to move the meeting — which was being held in Stanley Hall — back to the senate chambers in Eshleman Hall.

“That statement was nothing but an insult,” Felarca said in regard to Birgeneau’s speech.  “The best thing for him was to stop talking.”

Cooperative Movement Senator Elliot Goldstein said the disruption prevented a larger dialogue about a growing divide between students, UCPD and the administration.

“Personally, I am very upset that some people chose to disrupt a dialogue that could have happened,” Goldstein said. “But I am also upset that the chancellor chose to leave after a relatively small interruption.”

Senators had planned to ask Birgeneau a set of questions after his speech that members of the campus community had submitted through an online forum, but Birgeneau left the meeting before the scheduled question and answer session could be held.

After his departure, the senate modified a bill that was originally written to thank Birgeneau for attending and address concerns the senate has with certain policies of the chancellor and campus administration.

The modified bill asks Birgeneau to answer the set of questions developed for his appearance and to express the senate’s regret for the manner in which his speech was interrupted.

Though it was made clear that Birgeneau would not address the Occupy Cal events of Nov. 9 due to the lawsuit against the campus, a few of those questions address the faculty and police response to the administration’s handling of the events. Other question topics range from decreased state funding of public education to student participation in the campus cost-cutting Operational Excellence initiative.

The senate also planned to ask Birgeneau to hold regular town-hall style meetings for the campus community to voice their concerns directly to him. Goldstein said this would help “bridge the gulf” between students and administrators.

“I think the vast majority of students are upset with the chancellor and his lack of leadership surrounding the events of Occupy Cal,” Goldstein said. “They want to hold him accountable, but students need to see a face. That the chancellor retreated tonight just reinforces an image of a bunker mentality.”

Chloe Hunt of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.

Amruta Trivedi covers academics and administration.

Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comment policy
  • Gues

    Wow, Felarca is still pulling this shit more than 10 years after I was at Cal and she was doing the same thing.  And watching the video, I see that Ron Cruz is still there too.

  • Elaine

    The disrupters were stupid.
    a) Their actions let the chancellor off the hook; he didn’t have to answer for his behaviours, actions and lack of leadership.
    b)Their actions took the focus off the chancellor’s behaviours and put it on them.

    That the ASUC allowed the disrupters to take over their meeting is pathetic.

    • Well, Elaine, to be blunt, this is the ongoing problem with the Left, where emotions take precedence over logical thinking. Sane, rational, intelligent people use the opportunity to meet with a political adversary in a public forum to organize their thoughts and express their views in a persuasive manner, keeping in mind that their audience is not merely the person in question, but the public as well. Unfortunately, the crazed nutcakes who think the solution to all conflicts is to go 1968 on everyone only shoot themselves (and their cause) in the foot. Yelling and screaming like some demented street person isn’t going to make Birgenau or anyone else in any position of power/authority/control change their mind. Cal students really need to be a lot more critical in who they accept as allies for their various causes…

  • Sticky

    Yvette Felarca’s actions hurt those who seek real change. Her “BAMN’s way or the highway” philosophy is counter productive to real democratic dialog.

    Let know how you feel though. She is a seventh and eighth grade humanities teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School here in Berkeley. You can reach her at [email protected] or 510-644-6280, ext. 32102.

  • truth

    Felarca only believes in speech she approves of.  A decade ago (this bitch is old) she organized a theft of an entire run of a Daily Cal issue because the DC had an editorial supporting an end to Aff Action.    Felarca doesn’t believe in free speech.  She is, by definition, a facist.  She is, in reality, a sad woman who needs to move on.  It’s funny that she screams that students should have the right to protest when 1) she’s not a student and 2) she doesn’t believe in the right of free speech for others.

  • Anonymous

    And
    yet the Regents and Gov. Brown backed AB 131, giving Illegal Aliens $65
    Million of Legal Students’ State aid and further impacting education
    budget with no ROI (return on investment). This will only become larger
    every year. Say goodbye to YOUR higher education. Middle Class Students
    are seeing their aid reduced or nullified, Tuition costs increased, and
    have to resort to lifetime Loan Debt. Sorry if the truth hurts. :(

  • Guest

    We should ask Yvette Felarca to resign from MLK middle school. Her disrespect and unprofessionalism during the Chancellor’s meeting was unacceptable. 

  • Guest

    BAMN and Yvette are a bunch of fascist thugs.

  • Student

    I don’t really think this is a great way to get more people on your side. Also, I’m tired of Felarca. She needs to stop acting like she speaks for the entire campus. 

  • Monicareneesmith

    Most of the people in the room wanted to demand that Birgeneau resign and drive that beater of students and privatizer of the university out of the room with the force of the movement. BAMN was the leadership to help it happen. Well done

    • Guest

      Really? Because I see only about 5-10 people participating in the people’s mic. And I see a number of Occupy Cal activists not participating.

    • Stan De San Diego

      Where did the issue of “privatization” come up, except in the minds of paranoid left-wing kooks?

    • truth

      Okay, Monica — you want majority rule?  Cool.  Take a poll — the vast majority of campus wants BAMN to fuk off.      You know it’s true.

    • Michael

      what good does it do?  i’d rather see him change than throw him somewhere else

    • guess

      Are you BaMN’s lawyer????

  • The UC should invoke its legal prerogative and ban Yvette Felarca from the campus and toss her ass in jail for 6 months for trespassing every time she violates that order.

    • Claude

      that would be a rather facist move.  it’s tough: Birgeneau’s actions have been facist, Felarca’s too: who to support?  guess neither.  how about that Senate?  good questions eh 

      • Are facists people who discriminate based on faces? #thingstoponder

      • How is it “facist”, given that she is not only NOT a Cal student, but that her organization (BAMN) has a long track of violence, disruption, and criminal behavior? You apologists for the uber-left-wing fruitcakes don’t seem to understand that there’s a huge difference between exercising your First Amendment rights and parading/demonstrating/protesting in a civil, peaceful, effective manner (Civil Rights Movement, Tea Party, annual Gay Pride event, whatever) and engaging in physical confrontations with others. There’s enough of a history with BAMN out there that the university has perfectly legal grounds to exercise a restraining order against her and her group’s presence on Campus. In fact, Cal needs to do the same with these other various and sundry groups of malcontents who come on campus to disrupt life for the serious students. Let them protest, demonstrate, picket to their hearts content on the perimeter of the campus property. They don’t need to be on campus mixing it up with the students.

  • Guest

    Since when is Berkeley Felarca’s campus?

    A quick Google search reveals her to wander all over the east bay, supporting any agitation no matter the cause. 

    That she even associates herself with Berkeley tarnishes the institution’s good name.

  • Jeffrey Bean, Jr.

    Video of the what happened:

  • Guest

    Felarca is a disgrace to the campus.  I don’t think she’s done anything positive her entire life.

    However, her approach is consistent with the ideals of the left.  If you don’t agree with someone, restrict their ability to speak.  Free speech only if you share our beliefs!

  • Jeffrey Bean, Jr.

    What happened at the meeting tonight was completely unacceptable.  Chancellor Birgeneau was trying to speak to the students and answer questions that were chosen by the lawfully elected representatives of the students.  I disagree with the Chancellor on many issues and wanted to hear his response to my question and to other questions.  The people who interrupted the meeting prevented that.  What they did is not an example of democracy.  What they did is an example of interference with democracy.

    • Guest

      Since when does Yvette Felarca believe in democracy?

      She wants you to believe what she believes.  And if you don’t, get out!

      Totalitarianism.  As they say, if you go far enough left, you end up on the right.

    • Jeffrey Bean, Jr.

    • Unfortunately, this type of stuff has gone on at Cal and in Berkeley for decades. The hard-left activists aren’t interested in anything resembling a two-way discussion. They have this rather distorted concept of free speech that permits them to do just about anything to advance their own views yet silence anyone who may disagree. Look at the disparity between the Occupy Cal demonstration, where the participants argued that they had the right to break the law to get their message across, with the BCR Bake Sale one month earlier, where many of those same oh-s0-vocal advocates of “free speech” were demanding that the Bake Sale organizers be sanctioned or punished for “offending” others. Hypocrisy has been the order of the day among the Left in Berkeley for years now. This is merely the latest example of it…

  • Guest

    What a stupid troach

  • After Dinner Entertainment

    On the one hand: Bob Birgeneau has a waged a longstanding campaign of deceit, and he has displayed contempt for students at every turn. At this point he should know better than to continue on like that. Since he cannot or will not change course, he deserved to be shouted down.

    On the other hand: If you have bitched and complained about all the canceled appearances, about the fact that he hasn’t directly addressed ASUC in years, then you cannot tell him to get lost when he finally does come to talk to you. If you do that, are you not acting just as childish as the administration?

    Right now Birgeneau & Co. are drinking highballs while Celaya works the remote; they are watching video of the event as a prelude to making arrests.
    When chaos reigns on Sproul and you find yourself in zip-ties, well if you haven’t tried to damage anything or hurt anyone then you’ve got an argument to make.
    In light of what happened to the students at Irvine wrt Michael Oren’s talk, tonight’s video alone establishes probable cause.
    Was it worth it?

    BAMN: Didn’t you know ‘Celaya’ is a Mexican name? He’s on your side!
    http://www.exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=8223

  • Janet H.

    The BAMN people expect respect yet never give it.

    • Anonymous

      How many times has BAMN called in riot cops to beat peaceful student protesters with batons?

      Shut the fuck up.  (I’m not BAMN)

      • Physically obstructing lawful police activity is not peaceful.

        • Anonymous

          Why do you say this anonymously?  Why don’t you come out to a GA and make your slanders to our faces?  Do you lack the courage of your convictions?

          You are coward.  Live with your shame and fear.

          • MCC

            What anonymous said was not slander, though you did childishly distort it to pretend that it was.

            What you said however, seems to be a lot closer to the definition of slander.

            Also, keep in mind, you aren’t posting with your full name either.

          • Nor is he posting with all his brain cells intact, judged by the moniker he uses for posting here. Google his handle and you will see links to a website full of the rantings of a dope-addled idiot.

          • So you admit that you assholes are a violent bunch that seeks to intimidate anybody who doesn’t agree with you? Kinda defeating your own point there, buddy.

            For the record, when I was in Berkeley, I’d amuse myself on occasion by going to your events and making fun of you. You’d call me a ‘privileged racist’ or ‘privileged bigot’ and we’d both move on with our lives. It didn’t require much courage, Mr. Keyboard Revolutionary.

          • Anonymous

            This is what happens when you have non academic race, gender, ethnic studies majors. You graduate uncivil scum like these clowns

          • GoldenBear

            I agree with many of the responses to Ergoat’s childlike rant.  However, I sincerely doubt by this comment alone you can infer (a) whether he/she is a student at CAL, or if (b) Ergoat is an “ethnic/gender studies” major. This leads me to ask youi in just what way  are ethnic/gender studies “non academic”?  Also, does CAL offer “race studies” courses? 

          • Ergoat is an all likelihood not a Cal student or alumni, but he does a damn good impression of your typical race/ethnic grievance study major.

          • Stan De San Diego

            Before challenging others, why don’t YOU do the same?

          • Guest

            Watch out everyone, we have a badass over here

          • Probably one of those “badasses” who wet his pants and cried like a baby when he got arrested at the Occupy Cal protest.

      • Janet H.

        Ergoat I see anyone who doesn’t agree with you will quickly be told to shut up. I guess free speech only applies to people who agree with your point of view.
        Fact is Felarca does not represent the way most people feel.  Not even close.

        It’s sad because most people believe the police used excessive force.  But when people like Felarca represent police opposition, it changes people’s minds. Now more people will sympathize with the police simply because of the caustic tactics used by Felarca and her ilk.

        • Anonymous

          Bullshit. 

          In regards to cowards using anonymous online names to slander, I refer also to “Guest”.  If you want to call me a clown, I invite you to do so to my face.  Come to a GA and ask for Ergoat.  You’ll find me, as that’s my name.

          I’m not here to defend BAMN, they can do so themselves and ably at that.  I’m writing this to the spineless toadies who glorify and justify police brutality, authoritarianism, and get in line to kiss the pinky rings of scum like Birgeneau to put more feathers in your academic caps and get those resume recommendations.

          You are a blight to humanity.  Giving these institutions legitimacy that brutalize and treat students like pieces of meat to be economically exploited; shame on you.

          And Janet H: fuck off for portraying me as some antagonist against dialogue.  I didn’t start this thread with blanket, ad hominem condemnations.

          • Stan De San Diego

            I find it amusing that the person telling others to “f-ck off” doesn’t like being called an antagonist. Why don’t you go back to squatting and panhandling on your little piece of Telegraph Avenue sidewalk, and leave the grownups and real students alone?

          • Anonymous

            Bitch, I rent.  Come to a GA and say that to my face.  Please.

          • Stan De San Diego

            Thanks for reminding us that you are a small child with a small penis, who feels the need to cover for his insecurities by threatening people online.

          • Aster

            Honestly, don’t bother with these people. To them, civil disobedience is “obstructing lawful police activity” and refusing to talk with the administration that sent in police to brutalize students is not participating in “dialogue”. They don’t think for themselves, and they don’t get it. But that’s okay. Because they are obsolete anyway.

          • Stan De San Diego

            Give it a rest. There’s a difference between legitimate peaceful protest/demonstration and conducting activity designed to result in childish confrontations with people who have nothing to do with the issue at hand. Whatever you may think personally of the campus cops, they didn’t cause the student tuition hikes, and have no power to address that situation.

            Part of growing up is developing good judgement and choosing one’s battles wisely. The Occupy Cal folks chose to get in a counterproductive pissing contest with those given the power and authority to enforce the law, and they lost. Learn from your mistakes, learn how to articulate your argument more intelligently next time, and direct it towards those who can remedy the situation, not at those who can not.

          • Wow, guys like you are really tough behind a screen name, or in a mob…

          • I’m not kissing any part of Birgeneau’s anatomy. He’s a gutless coward who can’t stand up for the people enforcing the law (at his behest), and I’ve said as much in non-internet public fora. He’s a gutless coward who can’t use an appropriate amount of force (all of which would be lawful) to maintain order on this campus.

      • Stan De San Diego

        How many times has the chancellor done that? As it turns out, none either, despite your pathetic attempt to derail the discussion. And before telling others to STFU, how about you shut your own trap and listen to some other input for a change? Anyone who has read any of my posts knows that I’m NO fan of Birgenau whatsoever, however, as a responsible adult, I understand there’s a time, place and proper manner for voicing disapproval and dissent. These BAMN people are the type of bozos who give Berkeley and liberalism a bad name. The last thing you should be doing is sticking up for them.