In response to police crackdowns on student protests across the University of California system– in particular, an incident where peaceful protestors were pepper sprayed at UC Davis – UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland issued the following statement this week:
“Free speech and nonviolent protest have an honored place in American society and on college and university campuses. In light of recent incidents on several sister University of California campuses, I met last week with senior leadership to review our protocol for managing protests on campus and to plan for a campus teach-in related to the concerns of the Occupy movement.
“In 1962, President Kennedy famously said, ‘Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.’ I have made it very clear to UC Merced personnel that I will neither order nor condone police aggression or force during a protest on campus in the absence of an imminent and substantial threat of harm to persons or property.
“Regardless of your political views, I call on every member of the university community to honor our country’s tradition of nonviolent protest and free speech. As stated in our campus’s Principles of Community, ‘We are a community comprised of individuals with multiple cultures, lifestyles and beliefs. We celebrate this diversity for the breadth of ideas and perspectives it brings.’”