SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — University of California President Janet Napolitano publicly apologized Thursday for referring to a UC student protest as ‘crap’ the day before.

Napolitano’s remarks were caught on videotape and set off a hailstorm of anger from students, and on social media – many calling for her to step down.

During the opening of the regents meeting at UC San Francisco, she asked for “empathy and understanding.”

“I’m sorry for using a word I don’t usually use,” she said.

Napolitano’s gaffe occurred Wednesday as about two dozen student protesters clad in their underwear interrupted the UC regents meeting. Napolitano was sitting next Chairman Bruce Varner when protesters shouted loudly denouncing potential tuition hikes. The former US Secretary of Homeland Security may not have been aware she was being recorded on the UC video stream that is posted on the regent’s website.

As the protests continued, the cameras stayed on the regents. There was some confusion over what to do. That’s when Napolitano leaned over to Varner and said, “Let’s just break. Let’s go, let’s go. We don’t have to listen to this crap.” Her hot mic caught the comment.

Shortly after Napolitano’s remark, the regents left the room and continued their meeting later.

The comment was a different tone from Napolitano at the very same meeting. “They want to be sure that their voices are being heard and I want to commit to them that their voices are being heard,” she said.

Governor Jerry Brown and Napolitano said they were finding common ground during talks on the university system’s budget. The pair are the only members of a committee charged with recommending changes in how the university system operates and spends its money.

Protesters suspect the meetings were scheduled during a busy week of midterms, but they say they won’t stop protesting until their message is heard.

Comments