About my visit to UC Berkeley’s campus

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To the editor:

Your Feb. 18 editorial about my visit last week to the UC Berkeley campus overlooks the many efforts I have embarked upon to meet and work with students beyond the meetings scheduled during my official campus visits. Graduate student leaders, undocumented students and veteran students are among the groups I have reached out to and consulted with since I became president of the University of California. It was after these meetings, and based on the constructive dialogue I had with students, that I committed substantially more resources to address the specific needs and concerns of these student groups. I also have begun a series of open-ended web chats with students to further access. And I have provided any student who wishes the chance to receive my regular letters and reports on campus activities.

Unfortunately, at one meeting of undergraduate students at Berkeley, the students chose to read a series of angry “letters” to me and then stood as a group and walked out before I could utter a word. Some of these were the very same students with whom I had had a productive meeting just the week before. One was the same student who had asked that I pose with her for a picture that she could send her mother. I hope by your editorial that you are not suggesting that this behavior by one group of undergraduates is appropriate or that it is reflective of the sentiments of all students at UC Berkeley.

In fact, not mentioned in your editorial were the positive, constructive engagements during my UC Berkeley visit with several groups of students — graduate students, student athletes and students engaged in learning and research at the Space Sciences Laboratory and the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, or CITRIS.

As UC president, I am committed to listening to and learning from students at every opportunity. One contentious meeting won’t change that commitment.


Janet Napolitano

President, University of California