UC President Janet Napolitano wades into campus free speech debate

September 1, 2017

Misinformation and bigotry are proliferating and threatening American democracy, University of California President Janet Napolitano said Thursday in an address to political science academics.

The UC leader waded into the issue of free speech on college campuses, too, saying that controversial, right-wing figures such as Milo Yiannopoulos want to provoke universities and their students, not engage in meaningful debate or discourse.

And although Napolitano said that white supremacy cannot be tolerated, she stopped short of saying that people with such views should be denied platforms on UC campuses.

Her remarks at the American Political Science Association’s conference in San Francisco came ahead of a conservative UC Berkeley student group’s “Free Speech Week” next month, which Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin asked the campus Monday to cancel in the wake of anarchist violence.

“I can appreciate the mayor’s concerns,” Napolitano told The Chronicle after the address. “I think the chancellor made the right call — that the speakers will be allowed to come. There will be a lot of law enforcement planning.”

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SF Gate