UC President Michael V. Drake, M.D., statement on campus protests and arrests at UC Santa Cruz

UC President Michael V. Drake, M.D., made the following statement today (Friday, May 31, 2024):

For the past week, individuals including UC employees represented by the United Auto Workers (UAW) and others protesting the war in Israel and Gaza have intermittently blocked the only two campus entrances and exits at UC Santa Cruz. At various points, members of the campus community have been prevented from entering campus and significantly impeded from exiting it. This resulted in delayed access for emergency personnel and vehicles; childcare challenges for staff, faculty, and students; missed medical appointments; and difficulty accessing jobs, classes, and other educational, health care, and student support facilities and services on campus. In one especially disturbing case, on Tuesday an emergency medical vehicle was prevented from accessing a facility in which a toddler was in distress.

We recognize that members of our community hold diverse viewpoints on the war in the Middle East, and we respect their right to express those viewpoints. The University of California strongly supports freedom of speech and the rights of our community members, including union-represented employees, to participate in nonviolent protests.

These rights, however, are not absolute. Much of the behavior we have seen displayed by protestors over the past week has been dangerous and illegal, and it has left many members of our community understandably frustrated and fearful. Destructive actions that prevent members of the community from accessing public facilities or leaving campus in a safe and timely fashion are not protected actions; they are unacceptable and illegal disruptions to the operations of our campuses and the mission of the University. I support the campus and Chancellor Larive in taking the necessary steps this morning to begin clearing campus entrances and exits and restoring and maintaining free access to campus for all members of the community. The situation on campus remains fluid and we will continue to offer support and resources to UC Santa Cruz leaders during this difficult period.