UC Regents Chair Richard Leib statement on UC Berkeley School of Law

OAKLAND, Calif.—University of California Board of Regents Chair Richard Leib released the following statement on recent events within UC Berkeley’s School of Law:

Recently a number of student groups at the UC Berkeley School of Law have adopted amendments to their bylaws excluding Zionist speakers and supporters of Israel from being allowed to speak to those groups. This disturbing development has had a damaging impact on Jewish students, many of whom no longer feel comfortable participating in events organized by these groups. For many of these students, Zionism is an inextricable part of their Jewish identity. I am appalled when any group of UC students is subject to discrimination and made to feel unsafe, unwelcomed and excluded.

I want to be unambiguous in expressing the position of the University of California. There is no room for discrimination based on race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity at the University. Regents Policy 4403 entitled “Statement of Principles Against Intolerance,” was unanimously adopted by the Board of Regents in 2016 and will continue to be strictly enforced. This statement includes that, “Anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination have no place in the University.”

The Regents support the position taken by both UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ and the dean of UC Berkeley Law School, Erwin Chemerinsky, emphasizing that the initial reports claiming the existence of “Jewish Free Zones” at the campus are both incorrect and designed to inflame the situation. Please see Dean Chemerinsky’s article at https://www.thedailybeast.com/there-are-no-jewish-free-zones-on-the-uc-berkeley-campus. I urge people to read this to understand both what has transpired and the campus leadership’s strong expression of disapproval.

Fortunately, we live in a country that has a First Amendment protection guaranteeing freedom of speech. As a result, the University has policies in place that allow student groups to express their views. These students and groups are allowed to do this even when some of us find those views reprehensible or offensive. That is the basis for free speech and UC will always support that.

With that said, we reaffirm that no student can be excluded from attending or participating in an event due to their religion or perspectives and that the group’s bylaws cannot prohibit a speaker based on race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Student groups and events must be open to all students and in fact this is what is currently occurring at UC Berkeley and the other nine UC campuses. In addition, any student group that has a policy that discriminates based on race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity or jeopardizes the personal safety of our students, staff, or colleagues will not be tolerated and will be dealt with expeditiously and without reservation, including revocation of registration of student groups that violate our University policies.