One hundred faculty members at the University of California-Irvine signed a letter to the Orange County district attorney to drop charges against 11 students. The students disrupted a speech by the Israeli ambassador to the United States last year and have already been punished by the university. The letter states that charging the students would set “a dangerous precedent for the use of the criminal law against nonviolent protests on campus.”
The decision to charge the students, the faculty letter says, “sets a dangerous precedent for the use of the criminal law against nonviolent protests on campus.” It goes on to argue, as a report in the Los Angeles Times explained, that the charges are harmful and divisive to the school and risk “undoing the healing process” after widespread debate erupted following the protest and the decision to temporarily suspend the group.
“I think there was a great deal of dismay that the DA was reviving what we thought had been a closed chapter in the university’s history,” said UC Irvine history professor and Nation contributing editor Jon Wiener.
The district attorney has argued that the students organized to squelch the speaker in clear violation of the law. The students are set to be arraigned March 11 in Santa Ana.