Taking Back Our First Amendment

The Division of Equity & Inclusion vigorously upholds our First Amendment right to free speech, which is in the very DNA of our campus and our values. And we vehemently condemn the use of free speech as a vehicle for hate, bigotry, and oppression.

Students, staff, and faculty come to UC Berkeley to be part of a vibrant learning community that places knowledge and social justice at the core of our commitment to serving communities locally, nationally, and globally. On this campus we should be able to learn, work and live without facing threats, hatred, and violence. Today we affirm our commitment to protecting our students, staff, and faculty and to ensuring the physical and emotional well-being of everyone here, especially those in our community who are underrepresented and marginalized.

We stand resolutely against the white supremacist agenda and the use of hate speech of all kinds. We call out purveyors of hate and bigotry who harass, target, and stalk others. We oppose the defacement of our campus with slogans and symbols that are in stark contrast to the values we hold.

Speakers who center their rhetoric around bigoted and oppressive ideologies invite a very real and damaging type of intimidation and violence onto our campus. They disrupt the values of the university and fracture our community. Further, the increase in security that results from such events has a harmful impact on members of our campus and heightens tensions that do not contribute to a positive learning environment or to Berkeley’s Principles of Community.

Martin Luther King, Jr. challenged us to create and grow a “beloved community.” We do this by standing together against hate. We call on our campus community - all affiliations, all identities and across the ideological spectrum - to peacefully and assertively use our diverse voices to denounce all forms of oppression. Above all, let us do so in a way that will take back the First Amendment as a vehicle to lift equity in society, just causes, and our collective humanity.

Be safe and practice grace with yourself and with others.

Division of Equity & Inclusion
UC Berkeley
September  2017