Saturday, May 18

Op-ed: UC-AFT educators stand in solidarity with all students despite beliefs, identities



A message to our students:

We write today with hearts full of sadness and outrage. Your university administration has failed you. It has failed to protect you and support you, and in doing so, it has made clear where its priorities lie: in silencing protests and maintaining the status quo at the cost of your rights of free speech and assembly.

There is much to be said and done about the failures of our campus administration in the days ahead. As union members, we are exploring multiple ways that we might use our collective power to address our many concerns about their actions – or lack thereof – in the past week.

But at this moment, our primary responsibility is to you and your continued safety and well-being. This includes, first and foremost, ensuring that no students incur academic or criminal repercussions from the disruption recent events have caused. We will continue to listen to you and continue to offer our support as your teachers and librarians. Our working conditions are your learning conditions, and it is with both of those in mind that we as union members want to address you directly.

We want to say how inspired we are by your resilience and composure over the past week and in the months and years that preceded it. Your time at UCLA has been marked by an unprecedented global pandemic, multiple invasions and wars, climate disasters and social unrest. Throughout this current crisis, while politicians, the media and campus administrators have belittled and misrepresented you, we have seen you demonstrate experience, maturity and wisdom beyond your years.

We also want to state our support of you as not just your teachers and librarians, but as your partners in creating a learning environment that lives up to UCLA’s actual values. What we have seen in the past week is a betrayal of those values. Many of us witnessed the racist, sexist, homophobic and violent harassment that our students have been subjected to, both inside and outside of the encampment. Many of our students have shared with us that they have felt unsafe and unwelcome on campus.

When we say that we have a responsibility to keep our students safe, we mean all of our students, regardless of their personal beliefs or identities.

We know that the impacts of these events ripple outward into every part of our campus community, affecting all students, regardless of whether you are engaged in direct action or not. We will continue to do our best in our classrooms, offices and libraries to share the information we have, answer your questions and have difficult conversations, even – and especially – when emotions may run high.

We cannot undo the harm that has been done to you and our community. We are committed to supporting you now and as events continue to unfold.

In solidarity,

Lecturers, librarians, demonstration teachers, K-12 educators, supervisors of teacher education and field work coordinators of UC-AFT Local 1474, UCLA Chapter

Signatories:

Elise Bell, Linguistics

Helen Burgos-Ellis, Chicana/o and Central American Studies

Caroline Luce, Labor Studies

Mia McIver, Writing Programs

Loretta Gaffney, Labor Studies

Maggie Tarmey, UCLA Library

Rahul Neuman, Music

Jocelyne Sanchez, Chicano Studies Research Center Library

Xaviera Flores, Chicano Studies Research Center Library

Alison Lipman, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Amber West, Writing Programs

Susannah Rodríguez Drissi, Writing Programs

Anne Blackstock-Bernstein, Education

Virginia Espino, Labor Studies and Chicana/o and Central American Studies

Christopher Wilson, UCLA Lab School

Cristina Paul, UCLA Lab School

Megan McEwen, Geffen Academy at UCLA

Nancy Villalta, UCLA Lab School

Jane Parkes, UCLA Lab School

Arlen Nava, UCLA Lab School

John Branstetter, UCLA Political Science

Miki Goral, UCLA Library

Isaac Speer, Sociology

Olivia Lozano, UCLA Lab School

Sylvia Gentile, UCLA Lab School

Jeff Share, School of Education and Information Studies


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