In response to the “UC Leaders Letter”
To the authors of the UC Leaders Letter,
Thank you for your letter. We greatly appreciate you sharing with us your perspective.
We understand that this is a very personal and difficult issue for many UC students. UCSA is the collective voice of all UC students, and we are elected to represent you all and take stances on behalf of all UC students. We strive to do that as best we can on all of the issues that come before us. As representatives of 10 UC campuses, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, we decided that our resolution opposing HR 35 was reflective of the values of our constituents and voted to support the resolution 12-0-2. We understand and respect that there is disagreement on this issue among UC students. Still, we stand by our decision and stand by the resolution.
Our Board weighed the issues involved in our resolution opposing HR 35 carefully and seriously. There are 18 voting members of our Board and over 40 total members of our Board representing a diverse range of viewpoints. There was a long and spirited discussion. We considered this resolution line by line, and we voted in the way that we believe reflects the views of our student bodies. We would like to clarify that this was done in an open meeting, and all of our meetings are open to the public. Furthermore, we would also like to point out that this resolution was not under consideration for months prior to the Board meeting. The Board reacted to the passage of HR 35 in the Assembly in a timely manner due to the fact that this resolution passed the Assembly without any consultation with students. We continue to believe that it was critical for UC students to express our opposition to HR 35 and its impact on free speech and free expression on our campuses. As stated in the resolution, we also believe that universities should not engage in “unethical investments in companies implicated in or profiting from violations of international human rights law, without making special exemptions for any one country.” This particular clause, as well as the other clauses of our resolution should be read and understood on its own, and is not intended to be directed at any particular country.
By no means is it our goal to create division between UC students. We recognize the fact that students must stand as one in order to enhance the quality, affordability and accessibility of the UC system. It is crucial for us to ensure that the myriad of views held by our constituents are represented by the Board, and we take that responsibility very seriously. The External Vice-Presidents, the elected officials of each campus, always strive to ensure that the Board recognizes their constituent’s opinions and perspectives. As student leaders, we welcome and encourage constructive campus dialogue. It is for this reason that we believe that a stance against the Assembly’s Resolution, HR 35, was needed– in order to protect the quality of the UC education by ensuring that no one’s freedom of speech or academic freedom is put in jeopardy.
We apologize that you feel that you were excluded from the conversation, and we want to make it clear that it was not the intention of our Board for that to be the case. Whenever a resolution is presented to the Board, the author has the option of providing background information to the Board as they see fit. In this case, the author believed it was important to bring in a small group of students who were undertaking academic research that they felt was under attack by HR 35. There was no collective discussion or decision made by the UCSA Board as to who would or would not be included in the conversation—that was a decision made by the individual representatives of our Board that presented the resolution. While we stand by our resolution, we also agree that more student voices on this issue, and other issues, would have been valuable. For that reason, at our Board meeting at UCLA, we invited concerned students to come and speak to our Board. We also would like to extend an invitation to any UC student to come and speak to us at future Board meetings as well. You are welcome at any time. We also hope you will have a dialogue with the many students that expressed concerns about HR 35 and consider the negative implications that parts of HR 35 have on your fellow students academic and free speech rights.
In the future, we are committed to working to make sure that more student voices and perspective are consulted and included in decisions that we make as your representatives. Ultimately it is the responsibility of each individual External Vice- President to reach out to constituencies on their campus that may have a viewpoint or experience on a particular issue. Moving forward, this is a commitment that we make as a Board as well as in our individual capacities as elected student representatives. We also assigned to our Campus Action Committee the responsibility of discussing how we can ensure that we are engaging more students with our work and decision-making process. We are committed to ensuring that our agendas are not just sent out to the External Vice-Presidents and student governments before our Board meetings, but also posted on our website.
Again, thank you for your letter. We greatly appreciate your perspective, and hope to work closely together on the critical issues that we face as UC students in the near future.
2012-13 UCSA President