Retiring Manuel Gomez on Oren disruption: “I need to restrain myself because I am the last appeal once the deliberations are completed at the Dean of Students level.”

Here is what  the “restrained “outgoing Vice Chancellor Gomez said in an interview in  this weeks New University

“Q: The Michael Oren incident seems to be a recent example of this. Could you comment on how the campus has chosen to deal with it?

A:  I need to restrain myself because I am the last appeal once the deliberations are completed at the Dean of Students level. But I can say that I believe that this office and certainly the University of California, Irvine as a whole has been extraordinary for defending freedom of expression for all groups, even though different groups have different perceptions of that defense.

The growth of our campus, the maturity of our campus as a consequence reflect in my view more of a clash of ideas, more and more controversy. I think all great universities and their surrounding communities need to be aware [of] academic freedom and freedom of speech and fundamental values of a university.  They define a university; you cannot have a university without them. Having said that, at the same time, you can’t have a university that allows anyone to take away one’s right to speak. The idea of a university is exchange, critique, listening; no one group can assume that they and only they have the truth and no one else does.”

In contrast, a less “restrained” Manuel Gomez said the following in  An Open Letter from Vice Chancellor Gomez

Dear UCI Students

Over the past few years, we have had numerous opportunities to talk about free speech – about what is and is not protected within the broad scope of the First Amendment. Now, following the incident at Israeli Ambassador Oren’s disrupted address on Feb. 8, it is clear we need to review some actions that are not protected and do not legally constitute free speech.

Preventing someone else from speaking is not the same thing as exercising free speech. As Chancellor Drake has stated, “A great university depends on the free exchange of ideas. This is non-negotiable.” Disrupting someone else’s right to speak is antithetical to the principles of the First Amendment because one cannot claim the right to speak in service of depriving someone else of that right. In some contexts we call that censorship.

In California, anyone “without authority of law willfully disturbs or breaks up any assembly or meeting that is not unlawful in its character…” can be charged with a misdemeanor under California Penal Code §403. Other penal codes can apply as well. In short, this is a very serious situation. (emphasis added)

No one can steal the right to speak from someone else. No one’s right to speak is greater than anyone else’s. If you want to claim your right to speak, you must acknowledge and respect the same right for everyone.

Manuel N. Gómez
Vice Chancellor,
Student Affairs

One Response

  1. “What it means in terms of impact for the Jewish students on campus or the school’s relations with the Jewish Community at large remains to be seen.”

    -OC Jewish Experience (OC Jewish Federation)

    That is the extent of the OC Jewish Federation’s editorial comment on Gomez’s retirement.


    Gary Fouse
    adj teacher

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