At Wednesday’s senate meeting, senators voted on two resolutions, including the controversial Freedom of Speech resolution.
The Freedom of Speech resolution concerns the group of students now known as the Irvine 11. The people in this group, three of whom are students from UC Riverside, were arrested on Feb. 8 after they continually shouted over the speech being made by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren.
Supporters of the Irvine 11 claim that disciplinary actions against the students violate their freedom of speech.
“These students had the courage and conscience to stand up against aggression, using peaceful means. We cannot allow our educational institutions to be used as a platform to threaten and discourage students who choose to practice their First Amendment right,” said Muslim Public Affairs Council Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati, according to the council’s website.
However, critics, including some ASUCR senators, have referred to the opinion of Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the UC Irvine Law School. In the LA Times, Chemerinsky argued that the law allows the government to restrict speech in certain situations, such as when there is a heckler’s veto. He contends that no first amendment right allows people to walk into an auditorium and prevent a person from speaking.
Senate Chair Chris Kim shared similar thoughts in an email to the Highlander: “When students want to debate opposing opinions, they should do so in a manner that allows for the sharing of ideas and not the suffocation of differing viewpoints. It is only then that we may have knowledgeable and genuine debate that the university encourages.”
Although this resolution in support of the Irvine 11 had been proposed three weeks prior to the March 9 senate meeting, on that date, ASUCR senators apologized and said that they could not pass it because they did not have enough time to review the situation.
The resolution finally went to vote at last week’s meeting. During the open forum which immediately preceded the voting, fourth-year Brittnay Proctor called on ASUCR to vote yes, citing support from faculty members.
Despite the pressure from supporters, the resolution did not pass; three senators voted yes, five no, and three chose to abstain.
“I believe that part of the reason the resolution was met with opposition was because it called for ASUCR to stand in support of one side of the argument while not considering the perspectives of our other constituents,” said Kim.
Another resolution, the Resolution in Support of a Call to Remedy Injustice at the UC, also went to vote. This resolution was proposed following several incidents of hate on UC campuses. One such incident was the Compton Cookout, a UC San Diego student party that used African American stereotypes as a theme. This SCRI resolution passed easily, with 10 yes votes and one decision to abstain.
Other topics considered at the meeting were LUX, which is a student showcase that will happen on April 9, the upcoming senate elections, and a possible textbook rental system on campus.
Also, Andres Cuervo, ASUCR’s Director of Community Affairs, reported that ASUCR is going to the Riverside City Council next month to request more lighting along Canyon Crest. This request is being made on behalf of students that have said that they feel unsafe when walking in the area at night.