An alumna speaks about protests

Dear Chancellor Birgeneau:

It was 50 years ago that I proudly enrolled as a freshman at Cal, from which my mother (Class of 1933) and my aunt had graduated long ago. All these years I have bragged about the wonderful experience of my four years at Berkeley and the superb teachers from whose erudition I benefited in such a deep, wide and long-lasting way.

It was my senior year when the Free Speech Movement erupted in front of Sproul Hall.

I never became involved with it — I was too busy being a preppy sorority girl, a decision I regret to this day.

Now the Occupy movement has come to the university but with a very different result — students being beaten with batons by campus police.  Following up on that, we have you defending the actions of the police. No police were injured, but several protesters evidently suffered bruising and broken ribs.

I suppose I should be grateful that no pepper spray was used as it was at Davis — maybe we have a kinder, gentler police force at Cal?

For many years from my teacher’s retirement and Social Security income I have donated annually $1,000 to Cal and an equal amount to Purdue University, my late husband’s alma mater. The only way I knew how to protest your decision-making process from 3,000 miles away was to withhold my 2011 donations and direct both amounts to Purdue.

I hope the 1,600 instructors and the university community will be able to take more meaningful actions than my small gesture of opposition to ensure that the campus population will never again be subjected to Middle East-style brutality.

Andrea Martin Bonette,
Berkeley ’65