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Berkeley community talks anti-Zionism, campus safety at UC regents public comment

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On May 18, the UC Board of Regents reconvened for its second and third board meetings of the week, alongside a joint meeting from the academic and student affairs committee and finance and capital strategies committee.

Beginning with another extensive public comment section spearheaded by Opportunity for All, issues of LGBTQ+ rights, students’ immigration status and the statewide housing crisis were raised by UC students, faculty members and the general California community.

ASUC Senator Shay Cohen expressed concern for alleged anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist hatred at UC Berkeley and across the UC system during the board’s public comment session.

“This year alone, UC Berkeley saw antisemitic instances ranging from the ‘no Jews, go away’ graffiti on our MLK building, the swastika-filled flyers that related Zionism to Nazism handed out on Sproul Plaza and the human feces that we found on the doorsteps of our Hillel,” Cohen said. “As a Jewish student who has ties to the Jewish state as part of my identity, I am asking you all for the bare minimum: to uphold your principles of intolerance.”

UC Berkeley parent Elena Salazar voiced concerns about campus safety and security. Salazar referenced numerous instances of sexual battery and assault on and near campus, often by repeat offenders.

“I applaud Berkeley PD and UCPD, but what can we do to prevent sexual crimes against students?” Salzar asked. “We need to pour our proactive safety measures, such as the UC Safe Zone, with added safety enhancements for crimes committed in and around the Berkeley campus.”

Following the public comment session, the board continued to discuss equitable student employment, especially for undocumented students. The item was unanimously approved, allowing the university to hire students, regardless of their immigration status. Additionally, the regents would create a working group of students to assist UC President Michael Drake in creating an implementation plan following assessment of all potential policy ramifications.

Board Chair Richard Leib articulated the board’s commitment to supporting students of all immigration status and said the item would be actualized by November of this year.

“The University of California has long been supported to support all of our students, including the undocumented community,” Leib stated. “Today, we are pleased to propose steps that we think will reaffirm that commitment on behalf of our students.”

Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis then discussed her support for the regents task force on institutional growth, which she believes will pave the way “toward a more inclusive, capacious and impactful institution” by creating UC goals for 2025.

These task force recommendations include reimagining the scope of the university, diversity, student equity and success, research and dedication to addressing broader issues in the state of California.

One of the task force’s members, Regent Jose Hernandez, voiced his support for ongoing collaboration with state and national entities to promote “exemplary research, influencing policy decision, innovative solutions to economic and environmental challenges and curriculum focusing on societal problem solving.” Hernandez added that he hopes the task force increases investments in research and health care and expands affordable graduate education.

This item also received unanimous approval and concluded the board meeting.

During the following academic and student affairs and finance and capital strategies joint meeting, the board authorized UC Merced and the UC agricultural and natural resources division to hold a position on the board of F3 Innovate, a statewide nonprofit organization focused on “climate-smart” food systems and agricultural technology. This concludes the May UC regents meeting coverage.

Kelsey McIvor and Ananya Rupanagunta contributed to this report.

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MAY 24, 2023