August 8, 2012
Thank you for your letter of July 20 regarding the report on Jewish Student campus climate recently presented to my Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture, and Inclusion. I appreciate the time you have taken to so clearly express your own impressions and experiences as members of the Jewish community at the University, and also to provide reflections on specific recommendations contained in the report. I also appreciate knowing of your support for the goals I laid out at the start of the Council to address the challenges in enhancing and sustaining an inclusive environment throughout the University of California.
I agree that broad community input and consultation are absolutely necessary as the University continues its groundbreaking work to address campus climate and inclusion challenges. This is why I am honored to have as a member of the Council Alice Huffman of the NAACP, Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Jihad Turk of the Islamic Center for Southern California, Henry Der from the Four Freedoms Fund, Katherine Flores with the Latino Center for Medical Education and Research, and Rick Barton of the Anti-Defamation League. These distinguished community members bring a wealth of experience and expertise, and are aided in the process by faculty, staff and student representatives from the campuses as well as structures on the campuses to advise each of the Chancellors. It is clear that the members bring a diverse mix of viewpoints.
The report on Jewish student campus climate, which you refer to in your letter, was submitted to the Council by two of its members who were commissioned to visit six UC campuses to speak with the Jewish community. I am grateful for the service of Mr. Rick Barton and Ms. Alice Huffman in these efforts. Each campus visit was coordinated by the campus, so, obviously, specifics of each varied. I have no doubt that there is a broad range of viewpoints in the University community with respect to the issues raised in the report. That said, the report raises serious concerns for at least a sector of the campus community.
I have asked my office to review closely the recommendations issued in the Barton/Huffman report as well as those in Muslim and Arab student campus climate report submitted by Council members Imam Jihad Turk, Professor Tyrone Howard, Mr. Armaan Rowther, and Ms. Nan Senzaki and to provide me with additional analysis on each. I will also ask the Vice President for Student Affairs and the General Counsel at the Office of the President to review the policy recommendations included in both reports and to submit to me their analysis. I must say, however, that I believe our current policies may go as far as they can, given constitutional limitations. As I have said before, I will continue to be the first to defend our students’ and faculty’s right to free speech under the U.S. Constitution. Throughout the review period, I will continue to solicit feed back from the Advisory Council, and continue to welcome constructive feedback from all our community members. Along those lines, I will be sure that staff in my office receive your letter as the review proceeds.
Many of the recommendations in both reports, such as those dealing with cultural competency training or curriculum, are campus decisions and will be left for campus councils and the Chancellors to consider. I fully endorse, however, the call to address dietary and living accommodations needs of Muslim and Jewish students, as well as other religiously diverse students, and I believe it is appropriate for campuses to cultivate opportunities to provide all students with meditation or prayer space.
Moreover, to guide all our campus climate efforts, last June I commissioned a system-wide campus climate assessment project to provide comprehensive and reliable data on all our communities’ experiences. The survey will be the largest of its kind in the nation, and data yielded from the assessment will encourage the University to promote greater inclusion and enhance campus climate particularly for our most marginalized communities. I believe the data will provide the higher level of statistical reliability, generalizability, and methodological scrutiny you identify as essential.
The council will continue to address issues for a broad range of campus community members. None of this is designed to stifle free speech, but rather to ensure that our campuses are welcoming to a broad diversity of students, faculty, and staff. While hurtful speech may make that goal difficult to achieve at times, I want to reaffirm that the answer is not to restrict speech, but rather to see that all our community members feel supported by the University and able to take full advantage of the educational opportunities we offer. I expect you will agree that this is a legitimate and, indeed, necessary goal.
With best wishes, I am,
Mark G Yudof
University of California
General Counsel Robinson
Vice President Sakaki
Interim Coordinator Bernal