I — like Chancellor Carol Christ and Vice Chancellor Oscar Dubón Jr. — am a staunch supporter of free speech and honor the university’s commitment to this constitutional right.
I wish to suggest, however, as the university moves forward, that administrators devote an equal commitment of time, money and energy to the promotion of social justice and the advancement of the claims of those who are most marginalized and oppressed by white supremacist/xenophobic/sexist/racist speech.
I suggest the following concrete acts:
Given that $800,000 was spent on security for Milo Yiannopoulos on Sunday, Sep. 24, 2017, the university should make an announcement regarding how it will dispense a commensurate $800,000 in support of marginalized members of our community — people of color, recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, members of the LGBTQ+ community, the disabled, those of differing religious affiliations and others, i.e. those who are most directly targeted by provocateurs such as Yiannopoulos.
There should be public announcement of and reflection upon the administration’s decision-making processes that led to permission for extensive, multiple-day, centrally located hate speech events occurring on campus without a prior, robust public response plan in place that would evidence UC Berkeley’s consciousness and commitment to social justice values and the protection of its own community members.
There should be development of a university free speech policy that respects the right to express all viewpoints without privileging (through time, money, energy and attention) hate speech over other speech.
Jessica Carr is a doctoral student in human development and education at UC Berkeley.