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Statement of Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl
September 5, 2002 press conference

I have called this press conference to set the record straight in response to the outrageous allegations published by The California Patriot, a student journal, and picked up by the wire services around the country.

Transcript of questions asked of the chancellor and his responses at the press conference.


Reporter: The article (in the student journal, The California Patriot) suggests that things like the Star Spangled Banner, God Bless America and the flag just might be banned by the University.

Berdahl: That's absolutely absurd. We sing the Star Spangled Banner frequently on this campus.

The central allegation of The California Patriot is that the University of California, Berkeley is unpatriotic in commemorating the events of September 11. This allegation is wrong. This allegation is an insult to everyone at this University. More importantly, this allegation is disrespectful to the thousands who lost their lives and disrespectful to the countless heroes who worked valiantly to save lives on that day. These American heroes inspired all of us and renewed our faith in the American spirit.

We planned next week’s memorial service to be consistent with the spirit and substance of the memorial service we organized last year on September 17. At that service 15,000 people joined in thoughtful reflection. No one suggested that that event was unpatriotic or un-American.  In fact, quite the opposite was true.

The noon events planned for this September 11 are to be a memorial, also marked by contemplative music and prayerful thought to honor those murdered a year ago. We believe it would be a disservice to those who died to allow this memorial to become a political rally of any kind, for any purpose. This is where we differ with The California Patriot.  The California Patriot, not the University, is trying to turn this into a political event.

I will not allow the quiet moments from noon until 12:30 PM -- moments of  prayer, grief, mourning, and reflection --  I will not allow these sacred moments to be misused for political purposes. And I deeply resent the implication that by planning this service in this way, we are unpatriotic. There is nothing more patriotic and American than honoring those lost in this horror.

After the memorial service is completed, at 12:30 PM, the microphone on Sproul Plaza will be open to people who wish to express their thoughts. An open microphone will also be available on Sproul Plaza for two hours later that afternoon. There will be ample opportunity for all to express their grief, their mourning, or their political sentiments, as was the case on Sproul Plaza a year ago. 

Thank you.