Statement of UCI Faculty of the Department of Film and Media Studies on Campus Protests

Updated Statement of UCI Faculty of the Department of Film and Media Studies on Campus Protests
Addendum, May 17, 2024

We, the undersigned faculty members of the Department of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Irvine, express our absolute outrage over the extreme police brutality inflicted on members of our community on May 15, 2024, at the UCI Palestine Solidarity encampment. Given that students were unarmed, harmed no one, and as Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan stated, did not pose a threat to anyone, we strongly oppose the administration’s mischaracterization of the protest as “violent” to justify disbanding the encampment. As attested by Santa Ana Police Oversight Commissioners, the response of the police was unjustified and excessive. We denounce Chancellor Howard Gillman’s decision to call in over 20 police departments to our campus, and in doing so, jeopardizing the safety and well-being of students, faculty, and staff.

We stress that it was the university administration’s mishandling of a peaceful protest and the actions of militarized police, not the students protesting genocide, that make the UCI community an unsafe space. The disproportionate use of force by police in riot gear resulted in multiple injuries and the arrests of over 45 students, faculty, staff, and community members. We denounce the university administration’s decision to violently silence the right to free speech and free assembly on our campus, and we consider this a dangerous precedent.

We reaffirm our solidarity with the students’ protest against the genocidal destruction of Palestinian life, land, and educational and cultural infrastructure and we demand full legal, academic and disciplinary amnesty for all protesters.


We, the undersigned faculty members of the Department of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Irvine, express our full support and solidarity with the UCI Palestine Solidarity Encampment, organized and led by our students as part of a nationwide movement. We oppose the UCI administration's recent suspension of the negotiation team and other student organizers, including their access to campus housing, based on false accusations. We support our students’ right to free speech and free assembly, and urge Chancellor Howard Gillman and campus administration to withdraw any punitive measures and ensure that the students can safely exercise their right to protest. We share the student’s outrage at the ongoing genocidal destruction of Palestinian life, land, educational and cultural infrastructure. We join their voices in the demand that UCI ends all forms of complicity with it.

We were deeply shocked by the violent actions taken by the administrations of UCLA (May 2, 2024) and UCSD (May 6, 2024), whose use of police force ended with many students, faculty, and staff seriously injured and arrested for simply exercising their rights to political expression against a brutal genocide that has left over 40,000 dead. At UCLA, administration left the students doubly vulnerable, also failing to protect them from the attack of a white supremacist mob on the night of April 30, 2024. We demand that the UCI administration commit to not engage in the same violent actions taken by UCLA, UCSD, and other universities across the country.

Although UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman has alleged that the university cannot sever ties with Israel based on the principles of academic freedom, there are precedents for refusing to engage sites with politics that we consider abhorrent and that go against the university's mission. For example, the university has implemented economic sanctions by withdrawing support for collaborations with states that passed anti-trans bathroom bills, which we believe was an ethical decision. In the face of the genocide committed against Palestinians, the university should take similar actions and cut ties with Israel. We also echo the letter from UCLA's Jewish faculty and staff that condemns the weaponization of Jewish identity as justification for threats against the encampment. As stated in the letter, Gillman's messaging tends to "treat Jewish people on campus as a homogenous bloc despite our many backgrounds, convictions, and experiences." We highlight that there are many Jewish faculty, students, and staff supporting the students in their protest.

Expanding on the statement on campus protests released by the Council of UC Faculty Associations, we demand that UCI commits to:

1. Withdraw any disciplinary actions and impose no retaliations against students, lecturers, staff, or Senate faculty who participate in protests. This includes that all current disciplinary sanctions be revoked, and the immediate interruption of the use of surveillance technologies on them.

2. No arrests and no declarations of the political protests as unlawful.

3. Recognition of the genocide happening in Palestine, with the issuance of an official call for a permanent ceasefire of Israel's attack not only on Gaza but also on the occupied West Bank.

4. Full disclosure of all UC-wide and UCI Foundation investments, donations, and grants to the wide university community and the total divestment from all military weapons production companies and supporting systems that profit from or are complicit in the Israeli occupation, apartheid, and genocide of the Palestinian people.

5. Engage in good-faith negotiations with the encampment's negotiating team. Besides banning many student members of the negotiation team from accessing campus, chancellor Howard Gillman has shown bad faith in negotiations by circulating, through public messages, false descriptions of the students' demands and the process of negotiations. We demand that this is corrected by an accurate public statement.

We would also like to reiterate that, in the event of a UAW 4811 strike authorization scheduled to be voted on May 13-15, we will honor CUCFA's previous statements that “under HEERA [the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act], faculty do not need to volunteer to perform struck work that is outside our customary duties” and that “messages from the university telling you that it is your responsibility to ensure the continuity of education for your students… does not mean you have to volunteer to do the work of strikers that is not part of your normal work duties.” Further, “all university employees covered under HEERA, including Senate faculty, even department chairs or heads of similar academic units or programs, are generally non-managerial and also have the right to respect a picket line established by other university employees.”

The Department of Film and Media Studies at UCI is committed to "the perspectives of those who have been pushed to the margins," and centers its educational and research mission around advancing critical knowledge based on the principles of social justice, anti-imperialism, and a decolonial education. We believe that the student-led UCI Gaza Solidarity Encampment is an outstanding example of how the critical learning we do in our classrooms can be put in practice for the construction of a better world through international solidarity. In the context of the genocide and scholasticide of Palestine, we highlight our admiration for the students efforts and their role in creating a more ethical university.

Desha Dauchan
Sohail Daulatzai
Arcelia Gutiérrez
Bambi Haggins
Kristen Hatch
Lucas Hilderbrand
Meryem Kamil
Keiji Kunigami
Catherine L. Benamou
Catherine Liu
Philana Payton
Allison Perlman
Bo Ruberg
Braxton Soderman

Film and Media Studies