Photo: UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau
Striking up controversy while commenting on last weekend’s shooting, a University of California Berkeley chancellor sent an e-mail linking the Tucson shooting to Arizona’s war on undocumented immigration, and the downfall of the DREAM Act.
In the e-mail sent Monday, Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau, he stated he was angered by a “climate in which demonization of others goes unchallenged and hateful speech in tolerated.”
The chancellor also gave his opinion on why the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner , could have been motivated to kill those six people and injure another thirteen.
“I believe that it is not a coincidence that this calamity has occurred in a state which has legislated discrimination against undocumented persons,” said the e-mail, referring to Arizona’s law that gives local police officers the authority to enforce federal immigration law, by asking anyone appearing to be an undocumented immigrant for proof of their immigration status during a traffic stop.
The comments in the e-mail were picked up by news sources immediately, as this kind of blunt opinion on a matter like this is rather rare occurrence from a university leader.
Birgeneau added that Saturday’s shooting was caused by the “same mean-spirited xenophobia [that] played a major role in the defeat of the DREAM Act by legislators in Washington, [which left] many exceptionally talented and deserving young people, including our own undocumented students, painfully in limbo with regard to their futures in this country.”
While UC Berkeley has a tradition of supporting student activism, college officials are rarely this vocal, and Birgeneau’s e-mail has caused an uproar, with some going as far as demanding his removal.
Holmes says response from the students has been minimal as they are still on winter break.