UC Berkeley NewsView of Campanile and Golden Gate Bridge
Today's news & events
News by email
For the news media
Calendar of events
Top stories
Berkeley and the Mideast logo

Middle East tensions: A UC Berkeley chronicle

Framing the Issue
Memorial roses
 Tension & tolerance at Berkeley: A chronology
 Calendar of coming events
• A free & ordered space for learning
• The days following Sept. 11
• An academic controversy
• Diversity & tolerance
• Other resources

'Let those of us who hold the candle of learning in our hands, hold firm in the vigil for freedom and reasoned discourse.'
-Robert M. Berdahl

At UC Berkeley, where international issues often spur debate and protest, emotions have run high in the wake of Sept. 11 and the subsequent upheaval in the Middle East. Opinions have clashed, and at times, limits have been pushed as some on campus have spoken out forcefully on current events. Through it all, campus leaders, including administrators, faculty, students and staff, have worked to defuse tensions and foster tolerance, restraint and learning.

This page chronicles key events beginning in Fall 2001 and the campus administration's response to them.

A free & ordered space for learning
Protest rallyUC Berkeley has a proud tradition as a forum in which ideas are expressed freely and with conviction. With this commitment to free speech comes an equally strong commitment to maintain the campus as a free and ordered space for learning and to protect the rights of all to teach, study and freely exchange ideas. Below are documents and campus regulations that address the issue.
Chancellor's open letter on free speech and the university's mission(May 1)
UC President's welcome letter
Mideast-related rallies (April 9)
Campus privileges reinstated for Students for Justice in Palestine (May 7)
Student conduct charges from Wheeler Hall sit-in resolved (Feb. 21)
Regulations on campus activities, organizations and students
Policy on respect & civility in the campus community

 Candlelight vigil
See photos and coverage of the week's events on campus.
The days following Sept. 11
During the week following Sept. 11, the campus community came together in vigils, prayer sessions and moments of silence to mourn, reflect and remember the victims of the terrorist attacks. More than 12,000 joined in a moving campus memorial that week. Many students wrote their thoughts on yards of paper stretched across Sproul Plaza. Others donated blood, raised money for victims and even developed a Web site to assist people around the world searching to learn if their loved ones in New York were safe.

An academic controversy
Students in classroom rallyMany courses on the Middle East emerged following the Sept. 11 attacks, but media attention and debate focused in Spring 2002 on an English class to be taught this fall by a graduate student instructor. Many found the course description alarming, particularly its note discouraging "conservative thinkers" from taking the class. The English department acknowledged a failure of oversight, worked with the instructor to revise the course description and took measures to ensure that the class allows for free and open discussion. At right is information on the course, "The Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance."
The English R1A class
Campus statement on the class (May 10)
Campus actions on the class (May 21)
Analysis of academic freedom & responsibility issues surrounding the class
Course syllabus

Diversity & tolerance.
Diverse gradsUC Berkeley is home to students from a broad diversity of experiences, backgrounds, interests and strengths. No single racial, ethnic or cultural group forms a majority of the students here. However, with such diversity can also come intolerance, particularly during times of heightened emotions and sensitivity. Soon after the terrorist attacks, reports of hate crimes against Arabs, or individuals thought to be Arab, raised concerns on campus. Months later, reports of vandalism and fears of anti-Semitic behavior near or on campus raised concerns among Jewish students and other members of the campus community. The links at right explain the campus's regulations concerning hate crimes.
Chancellor's statement on acts of hate (April 3)

Other resources
Student policies & procedures index