Statement on disruptions to university events and operations

Dear students, faculty and staff,

The disruption of the university’s 101st Honors Convocation by anti-Israel protesters on Sunday brought profound disappointment to students, parents, grandparents, siblings, and other relatives and friends. The crowds of well-wishers, including many faculty and staff, had come to Hill Auditorium to celebrate undergraduate students who – through countless hours and exemplary dedication – have achieved the university’s highest academic honors.

Like many of you, I am proud of our university’s history of protest. But none of us should be proud of what happened on Sunday. We all must understand that, while protest is valued and protected, disruptions are not. One group’s right to protest does not supersede the right of others to participate in a joyous event.

The protesters’ intrusion on one of the university’s most important academic traditions was unacceptable. It was not in keeping with our student code and our longstanding policy on freedom of speech and artistic expression. It was painful for everyone who had gathered – and especially so for members of our Jewish community.

In recent days, I have been asked about disciplinary measures that might be taken against particular students regarding disruption of activities and other acts. The university cannot share that kind of information, but declining to discuss a particular case does not imply that disciplinary action did not or will not occur.

We must always uphold the rights of everyone to participate in our most cherished traditions. Tomorrow, we will begin seeking feedback from the university community on a draft policy governing disruption of university operations, including academic and social activities, events, gatherings, and celebrations.

We will not shy away from protecting the values we hold dear. Those who participate in disruptive activity will be held accountable. Such accountability is one of the ways that we uphold our commitments to one another and our entire community.

Let us again remember who we are – and who we must be – and let us walk together in honor, mutual respect and dignity.

Santa J. Ono