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Statement on the Events of May 6, 2024

This statement has been authored and/or endorsed by a majority of tenured faculty (Associate Professors and Professors) in the Department of Communication at UC San Diego. It does not necessarily reflect the views of all faculty or of other department affiliates.

In the tradition of student activism that is central to the history of the University of California, coalitions of students, staff, faculty, and community members have called for the university to “affirm Palestinians’ right to life and safety, condemn the genocidal violence in Gaza, and call for a permanent immediate ceasefire” (The Triton, 2024). 

On Wednesday, May 1, protesters formed a peaceful encampment adjacent to Library Walk, the heart of campus, that was carefully designed so as not to obstruct free movement between and among university facilities. Within the encampment, students and others organized peaceful protest activities, teach-ins, calls to prayer, Shabbat services, and other activities that demonstrated their insistence on a community of protest defined by inclusion and nonviolence.

Early in the morning of May 6, upper administration officials summoned multiple branches of law enforcement – dressed in riot gear and carrying arsenals of militarized equipment – to close down the encampment, arrest protesters, and confiscate their possessions. Administration officials also coordinated with local public transportation systems to shut down access to campus, and dispatched police officers to close all campus entrances. This took place without any discernible attempt to engage in good faith dialogue about protesters’ demands. The administration ignored many faculty members’ offers to mediate conversations between various groups. Campus community members – including faculty, staff, and students – did not know about any of these planned actions until they were already underway.

Many of the choices made unilaterally by upper administrative officials had implications beyond the closing of the encampments. Among other things, they failed to notify any of the responding police agencies that some university affiliates serve as designated essential staff members who are explicitly permitted to enter campus when it is otherwise closed. These community members were turned away from campus on a day when their support was most needed. Administrative officials also closed the Student Health facilities for 24 hours, leaving students on a campus of 43,000 people without access to their medical providers or to the pharmacy where their prescriptions are held. In photographs and videos captured of these events, snipers can be seen using the roof of the Student Health facility as their perch.

As a group of scholars and artists who convene as a Department of Communication with a wide range of histories, experiences, identities, and expertise, we are trying to reckon with and make sense of these events. Although our responses to these events as individuals represent a diversity of perspectives, positionalities, and practices, we are unified in our concerns over the following points:

  • Although the campus was essentially closed down to students, staff, and faculty on the morning of May 6 with very little notice, the media were present to document the police response, situating themselves primarily behind a line of officers clad in riot gear. News cameras appeared to have been given unfettered access to the scene, often moving freely among mobilized police officers while protesters were cordoned off into separate areas. In addition, after protesters were cleared from the encampment, local media were permitted to roam through the area, broadcasting their own perusal of personal belongings and other materials.
  • Police appeared to selectively remove items of clothing from the students; most notably, in several instances visible on local media’s news streams, police were seen deliberately and roughly removing keffiyehs from around protesters’ necks, which they then dropped to the ground and trampled.
  • As noted above, the closure of the Student Health center – and the use of its rooftop by snipers – left many students without access to their health practitioners. Most notably, students also lost access to their prescriptions in the Student Health pharmacy, and were denied any avenue to transfer those prescriptions to other pharmacies. We have heard from several students who lost access to their essential medications for over 24 hours. Similarly, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) – already overburdened – has been overwhelmed with students requesting mental health services specifically because of the trauma of May 6.
  • Faculty have been in regular contact with students at the encampment since it was first established, participating to varying degrees in their educational activities. Despite the multiple channels of open and available communication, upper administration nonetheless unilaterally chose a set of actions – summoning multiple heavily-armed law enforcement agencies, the last and most extreme option – rather than an approach that would have been defined by de-escalation, dialogue, and mutual respect.
  • Our capacity to give our students the education they deserve has been impacted by the sudden mandate to move to remote instruction, inconsistent and unclear guidance, and a lack of concern for psychological safety on this campus. Students woke up on May 6 to the spectacle of a militarized raid in the heart of their campus, with overwhelmingly chaotic and dangerous interruption of their educational and extra-curricular schedules. The space of and around Library Walk, ironically including the Student Health center, was transformed from its historical role as a site of gathering, student group activity, and dialogue, into a space of repressive control.
  • Some of us have been engaged in years-long research on surveillance, policing, and public safety, including work on community-based alternatives to existing policing infrastructures that lack adequate oversight and accountability practices. Some of us have deep experience and expertise in political communication, free speech, and democracy. As a faculty, we have a broad base of specialized experiential and research-based expertise on these issues that has been celebrated in university publicity and recruiting materials. Upper administration drew on none of this expertise in the lead-up to May 6.
  • We are more generally concerned about increases in the policing, regulation, and repression of individual and collective speech, and targeted harassment of people making particular kinds of speech, including statements such as this one.

We call for the immediate reversal of all recent suspensions. We call for the immediate dropping of all charges for peaceful protesters. We call for the expansive embrace of free expression, including political speech and activity, on our campus. We call for good faith dialogue with protesters about their stated demands.

We further call upon the Academic Senate to use its oversight privileges to investigate and ensure accountability for the lack of consultation, communication, and shared governance in the lead-up to the morning of Monday, May 6.

Enquiries about this statement may be sent to the Department Chair:

Statement on Rise in Anti-Asian Hate Crimes & the Atlanta Shooting

Dear Communication Department Community,


Hatred is a powerful communicator. The lives taken from families, friends, loved ones in Atlanta this week exact an immediate devastating toll that screams out now and speaks into an unfolding future. The overwhelming immediacy of this devastation threatens to transform the lives of 8 people—among them, 6 women of Asian descent and 4 ethnic Koreans—into a spectre of expected yet unpredictable racialized attacks that haunt our Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) family.  We must reject every aspect of this attack and condemn the hate it conveys. Our own communication matters in moments like this, and we—as individuals and as campus community members— must grow louder, stronger, and unyielding in our rejection of hatred, and especially in our rejection of attacks on AAPI people and communities. We are saddened by, angered by, and strongly condemn, escalating racially-motivated intimidation, bullying, microaggressions, harassment, and verbal and physical attacks against Asian and Asian American community members. Sadly, the public health emergency spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic has been exploited to foster racism, ethnic scapegoating, and blatant xenophobia that draws fuel from and reignites an ongoing history of anti-Asian racism in the United States, dating back to the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) and earlier.

We recognize that these acts of hatred have caused significant harm to our Asian and Asian American communities, and are the latest iteration of a long history of systemic racism in this country. We are emboldened in our steadfast embrace of inclusion and belonging for all peoples. Xenophobic and racist actions are contrary to our values and  are not representative of our community beliefs. We stand with, and in support of, all Asian and Asian American members of our campus and local communities. We commit ourselves to having one another’s backs.

The department’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is reflected in our stated values, but it must also be embodied in our actions. We recognize that vocalization of support must be accompanied by explicit strategies to dismantle systems of oppression, especially the forms of oppression that directly target specific people and communities. Moments like this one require a clear articulation of action: this is an ongoing effort that we must willfully take on and integrate into the various facets of our work together, in the classroom, across campus and beyond the university. The wellbeing of our students is always our primary concern. We encourage you to reach out to us for support when you need it, and to care for each other in the face of these profoundly harmful attacks. We are here for you.

Brian Goldfarb
Associate Professor & Chair
Department of Communication

UC San Diego Department of Communication Commitments to Actions in Response to the Murder of George Floyd

The Department of Communication is outraged, aggrieved, and heartbroken by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. We say his name and the names of so many other precious Black lives that have been lost at the hands of state and state-sanctioned extrajudicial violence. Tanisha Anderson. Ahmaud Arbery. Sandra Bland. Jonathan Coronel. Atatiana Jefferson. Charleena Lyles. Tony McDade. Alfred Olango. Aiyana Stanley-Jones. Breonna Taylor. Jonathan F. Vasquez... 

We extend our deepest solidarity with Black students, staff, and faculty at our university, with Black communities across the country, and with people throughout the world who are grieving. We declare that ALL Black Lives Matter here and across the world. 

As scholars, educators, and activists, we know that George Floyd’s murder belongs to a long and deplorable history of anti-Black violence in and beyond the United States, a history that has been backstopped, again and again, by state-sanctioned military and police violence. We know that white supremacy was integral to the founding of this country and the accumulation of its riches. We also know that, despite centuries of struggle, white supremacy remains intrinsic to not just our policing and criminal justice systems, but also to our political, economic, and educational ones. We condemn white supremacy and anti-Blackness in all their forms and affirm our commitment to fighting to eradicate them. 

We have written these statements before. While important, statements of solidarity and declarations of our values are not enough. Offers to listen, to learn, and to teach are not enough. Expressions of sympathy, condemnation, and outrage are not enough. In short, continuing with the status quo is not enough.

It is not enough because state-sanctioned violence against Black people continues largely unabated; because socially-sanctioned vigilantism against Black people continues largely unabated; because institutionalized racism continues largely unabated; because the devaluation, stigmatization, erasure, and appropriation of Black voices and knowledge continues largely unabated. 

Dismantling white supremacy demands a commitment to anti-racism and to fighting anti-Blackness in our everyday practices and values. It requires fundamental changes and materially meaningful actions by our institutions, including by UC San Diego and this Department. It requires changing the structures that underwrite the privileges that many of us enjoy, whether because of the color of our skin or the prerogatives of our profession, and it requires concrete deeds that go far beyond statements of outrage and support. 

To this end and building on the Department’s historical commitment to struggles for social justice, the Department of Communication pledges the following:

  • We commit to fighting for an increase in Black student enrollments, which are far from representative of the California population
  • We commit to improving our practices of recruiting and retaining Black students, faculty and staff.
  • We commit to annually offering courses focused on anti-racism, whiteness as a social force, and Black futurity, possibility, and liberation.
  • We commit to strengthening anti-racist frameworks in our teaching, research, and mentorship, especially ones that account for the particular ways in which Black cisgender and transgender women and Black non-binary people experience state violence and cultural erasure. 
  • We commit to developing and sharing resources for anti-racist training and organizing.
  • We commit to fighting for culturally-specific resources that are aimed at the retention of Black students. 
  • We commit to making our classrooms a safer space for Black students and faculty, and supporting the development of syllabi and teaching practices that raise consciousness of white supremacy and other forms of bias and violence through curricular and professional development workshops and mentoring practices. 
  • We commit  to forming an anti-racist working group composed of faculty, staff, and students that will investigate and propose accountable ways to make antiracist praxis an integral and sustained feature of the Department, including by identifying resources to support these efforts within and beyond the Department.

Additionally, the Department of Communication calls on the University of California to do the following: 

  • In solidarity with peer campuses making similar moves, we demand that UC San Diego divest from, and cease all contractual arrangements with, SDPD, SD County Sheriff, SD Harbor Police, and other local police organizations.
  • We demand that UC San Diego administration commit to removing UC police and all forms of policing entirely from our campus and immediately begin taking concrete steps, in consultation and collaboration with UC San Diego students, staff, and faculty, to develop a community safety structure that would eliminate the need for campus police. As a first step and while we work toward a community safety structure, we demand the immediate formation of an independent oversight board for UC San Diego campus police — with equal representation from students, staff, and faculty — empowered to evaluate all complaints against campus police officers.
  • We call on UC San Diego to redirect the more than $10 million it spends annually on policing and surveillance to essential resources that are needed to make our university thrive as a truly public institution: affordable housing; secure access to food; living wages for staff, lecturers, and graduate workers; and grants, financial resources, and curricular programs designed to support the most vulnerable among our campus and specifically Black students, faculty, staff, and service workers. 
  • We call on the University of California to increase and fund Black student enrollments so they reflect the representation of Black people in the State of California. 
  • We call on UC San Diego to institutionalize support for Black students, staff, faculty, and services workers who are targeted on campus by establishing and funding protective processes and by identifying and holding accountable those who violate our principles of community. This includes the targeting of Black and Brown members of our community by Campus Police, as well as by faculty, staff and students who assume that their Black counterparts do not belong here. 
  • We call on UC San Diego to dedicate mental health staffing and resources that specifically serve our Black student population.