Saturday, June 15, 2024
HomeOpinionOp-EdsHoward Gillman, shame on you

Howard Gillman, shame on you

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Chancellor Howard Gillman referred to May 15 as a “sad day for our university” in a statement released late Wednesday night. 

There was no shame behind this statement. He placed blame on the peaceful encampment in solidarity with the Palestinian genocide. Gillman, without remorse, actively took opposition to the encampment — an arguably illegal maneuver by a man who is required to be politically neutral. 

I rarely am shocked by UCI’s administration and their decisions — over and over again, students and faculty alike have watched administration go against the morals a supposed R1 caliber research university should uphold. UCI, just like every other alleged elite public research university, should be at the forefront of all progressive issues. Whether it is housing insecurity, labor rights, foreign policy justice, racial justice, economic inequality or any other progressive movement, UCI students must be able to freely express themselves peacefully however they please. 

Over the last two weeks, Gillman repeatedly proved beyond any reasonable doubt that he is not the person fit to lead this school through adversity and into prosperity. His whiny statement vilified students and set a dangerous precedent: that if students do not conform to what he feels is just, they are at risk for arrest and police brutality. 

In what will almost certainly go down as the darkest day in UCI’s 59 year history, Gillman turned his back on students. He allowed them to be brutalized, arrested and jailed for organizing against a genocidal regime that has spent decades committing human rights violations. 

The courage of the students, activists, journalists and all those on the right side of history should be commended. Against the threat of rubber bullets and batons, hundreds of people stood strong opposite of evil. 

The encampment protesters may have dispersed for one night and leadership may have been arrested en masse, but they will be back. Students are resilient and demonstrated more courage standing unarmed against hundreds of cops than any police officer at the encampment could’ve dreamed to show. The fight of the student organizers is a reminder that there is hope in this world for change — but it will not come from anything but persistent pressure and calculated action. 

Gillman is scared, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Willie Banks is scared and every other university official that has the blood of students who were assaulted by police on their hands is scared. They know what their complicity in genocide has caused at UCI. 

The police presence at the beginning of the encampment did not work. The lies told in the press releases and statements did not work. The suspensions given to student negotiators did not work. Now, their police raid of the encampment with multiple arrests, did not work. 

As police carried off a professor, her voice rang out in support of students and activists. As Dr. Tiffany Willoughby-Herard was arrested, she yelled into news microphones about how much taxpayer money was being used to silence a peaceful protest. She shouted to reporters that the potential millions of dollars of resources being used could’ve been allocated to housing, tuition and other student benefits.

Willoughby-Herard is absolutely right in her call for amnesty and reinvestment in students. Her words of courage were a spark of hope during a dark time at UCI. 

When multiple police departments are called in to crush a peaceful student led and faculty backed protest, it is clear who is winning. 

What’s next, Chancellor Gillman? How will you remedy this? Will you continue to blame students and activists? This is a stain on your legacy, and it will follow you for the rest of your academic career and life. You sign off every nasty statement you send to students and staff with “Fiat Lux”, Latin for “Let There Be Light”. 

Until you step down as chancellor of this once proud university, there will be no light at UC Irvine. 

Jacob Ramos is a 2023-2024 Opinion Editor. He can be reached at jacobtr@uci.edu

Edited by Trista Lara and Annabelle Aguirre.