BERKELEY (CBS SF) — UC President Janet Napolitano on Wednesday said all free speech is welcome on campus, even the recent cases of hate speech used in chalk political messages seen around campus.
The comments come as California voters get to ready to hit the polls in June.
I think it will be a very lively election season in California generally and particularly on our campuses, said Napolitano.
The season will likely be controversial as well, as evidenced by the inflammatory language of recent so-called “chalkings” at UC campuses with messages like “DEPORT THEM ALL,” “BUILD THE WALL” and “SAVE THE TACOS.”
“We’ve seen this across the country. It’s generally pro-Trump supporters taking some of his slogans and chalking them either on sidewalks or on walls on college campuses, explained Napolitano. “We had a recent incident in San Diego, but that is a form of speech in a way.”
But even at the birthplace of the Free Speech movement, some students say the chalkings go too far.
“Your right of free speech ends when it impedes on the rights of others,” said student Zack Harris.
“Everyone is allowed the freedom of speech but when you are supporting – frankly, a bigot — I think it comes off as hate speech and it can be not only offensive but also incite violence,” said Miguel Maurico.
“Should the university allow it? I don’t think so.”
But when it comes to impeding free speech, Napolitano says she will not institute restrictions.
“I’m not the censure here. I’m not going to make that decision,” the UC President said.
In another case, Students For Justice in Palestine caused a stir when they set up a mock Israeli check point at Sather Gate.
“We don’t find that to be hateful, because we think that is a way to show students in Berkeley what is happening in Palestine,” said student Bathool Syed.
When asked how to balance the line between offensive speech and political speech, Napolitano replied, “Well, a lot of political speech can be offensive. These are open speech campuses and campus communities ought to be places where different and sometimes extreme points of view are expressed.”