March 9, 2018
Dear Campus Community,
Many of you are aware of tabling by the College Republican club this week that harmfully targeted our undocumented students, resulting in an outpouring of anger and intense disappointment in one of our registered campus organizations, and an outpouring of support for our undocumented community.
Many are asking what the administration is doing about the hateful and bigoted tactics of the College Republican club.
We condemn their hateful speech and actions at the tabling event this week and will take every step to ensure that our values are clearly communicated to those who seek to divide and hurt our campus community.
However, after reviewing the incident, including visuals, we have determined that as nasty as the club’s signs were, they are protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. As you know, First Amendment protection is not absolute. Speech and expression can be limited and/or punished when it incites violence or crime, presents a credible threat to a person or group of people or when it defames people — but offensive language and “hate speech” alone generally do not rise to the level of actionable harassment.
Bobcats, if you know of any threat of physical harm made directly to an undocumented student or to any group of undocumented students, please contact the UC Merced Police Department at 209-228-2677 or email@example.com . If you know of any other conduct that you believe violates university policy and is not protected speech, please contact me.
We also recognize that many of our staff members wish to show their support and voice their opinions about issues that incite their passions. It is important to remember that while we are acting in our capacity as university employees, in the workplace and during our workday, we must abide by university policies with respect to conduct in the workplace.
This includes treating our students and fellow employees with respect and in an objective, professional manner consistent with our job responsibilities, regardless of whether we agree with them. Our ability to speak out and act is more limited in the workplace than when we are citizens outside the workplace.
We still have work to do to create opportunities and spaces for sharing and debating differences in respectful ways. One avenue to begin making changes is through the Office of Campus Climate’s Campus Community Forum taking place from noon-1:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 14. We will be discussing recent events, resources and updates, and talk about community-building activities and other ways the Bobcat community can move forward together. Everyone is invited.
If you are interested in attending, please RSVP by 5 p.m. March 13 by contacting De Acker at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Also, watch for other upcoming forums that will promote dialogue — not divisiveness —sponsored by my office and the Division of Student Affairs.
If you would like to talk personally with me, please call me at 209-201-3491 or email me at email@example.com .
Luanna K. Putney
Associate Chancellor and Senior Advisor to the Chancellor
Campus Ethics and Compliance Officer