And the solution? Host a series of discussions on civility and values

UCI ruckus leads to forums on civility

February 18th, 2010, 10:42 am

by Gary Robbins, science writer-editor

Less than two weeks after 11 students were arrested at UC Irvine for disturbing a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, the university’s chancellor says the campus will soon host a series of discussions on civility and values. The Feb. 8 ruckus generated national attention, and it led the Zionist Organization of America to call for a boycott of UCI. (Story)

Responding to the uproar, Chancellor Michael Drake posted a message on the UCI website  Wednesday titled, “Why Do Values and Civility Matter?” Here is the chancellor’s complete message:

I have spoken and written often about the manner in which we discuss and debate our differences, about our values, and about how we use those values to guide our decision-making. I am disappointed that some in our community seem more comfortable engaging in confrontation than collaboration, and in closing channels of communication rather than opening them.

At this juncture, we have two options. We can continue to amp up the rhetoric of outrage that is reverberating inside and outside our walls. Or, rather than fortifying barriers, we can use this energy to build bridges across the spaces that divide us.

We can discuss our differences respectfully, moving first toward understanding, and perhaps eventually toward resolution. And we can challenge ourselves to be better: What does it mean to be a part of a learning community? How do we engage each other in constructive dialog? How do we move forward?

To that end, I am asking several campus units to join together to host a series of discussions that will help light our path forward. School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky’s “First Amendment in a Multicultural Society” lecture last week set a high standard, and we will explore other issues in upcoming weeks. We will announce these shortly. I hope that all interested students, faculty and staff will participate, and that rather than repeating the behavior of so many others and sinking backward, we will move forward as a campus.

I know that we can advance. As we do, we must remember that the collective energy of our diverse communities is among our greatest strengths, and one that clearly enhances our position among the great learning centers of the world.

Chancellor Michael Drake


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