Free Speech & Advocacy

Excerpts from Chancellor White's Remarks at The CSU Board of Trustees Meeting

Announced on: Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016

…Lastly, I wish to comment on the news of the past few weeks, and offer some thoughts and perspective.

First, the campaign rhetoric that we have endured over the past year has had something offensive for everyone, regardless of a person’s political ideology. And so today, we are now in a place where the rhetoric of the past starts to evolve into the governing policies going forward. And we have seen some early signs of change…both positive and negative.

And because of the lack of substantive policy discussions on things that matter for our future, there is a lot of uncertainty at best, and a sense of fear and vulnerability at worst.

There are many issues going forward that matter to the CSU, including education policy writ large; the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, along with federal support for research and low-income students with Pell and TRIO programs. There are concerns about future policies on climate and healthcare, to name a few.

As a university community, we are capable of thriving in a world of ambiguity. But there is more…I believe strongly that the CSU, because of our size and importance to America, can also be a voice that influences the future in positive ways. The CSU voice matters…if our employees and students were a city, we would be the sixth largest city in California, ahead of Sacramento. And if we include our living alumni, we are larger than 21 states.

Given our size, we have a responsibility to lead with our voices.

As such, there are areas of immediate concern…And there can be no ambiguity that we – as the CSU – are a community that embodies inclusivity and excellence. I was so proud to release a statement on November 9, 2016 with David Lopez, CSSA president, addressed primarily to our students, along with faculty and staff:

The California State University embraces its diversity and the way in which our students, faculty and staff achieve excellence through inclusion. We are unequivocally committed to supporting all members of our community. That is who we are. It is a core strength and part of our DNA.

Elections are essential to democracy. Yet, they are not easy. They test our resolve, but also our understanding and compassion. They can be difficult and sometimes even painful, especially for those who hoped for a different outcome.

Today, many in our community may feel anxious and perhaps vulnerable about their personal future, the future of those they care for and the future of our nation. It is our duty – as a community – to listen to each other and support each other through this time.

It is also our responsibility to hold our political leaders to account, regardless of party. To meet that obligation, the California State University and California State Student Association will together be leading advocates in advancing the rights of our students, faculty and staff. In this effort, we stand with California's political and civic leaders, our colleagues in the University of California and California Community Colleges, and our many peers nationwide who care about and are dedicated to a nation that lives up to its highest principles.

As you would expect of us, we have been developing the policy needs of our times. This past July, we provided guidance to campuses that clarified the relationship between our campus law enforcement activities and US Homeland Security.

There is no ambiguity here…We are deeply committed to fostering a campus community that is safe and welcoming for everyone.

Primary jurisdiction for federal immigration laws rests with the federal government, not University Police or other local municipal law enforcement.

Unless directed by California Government Code or required by law, the CSU will not enter into agreements with state or local law enforcement agencies, Homeland Security or any other federal department for the enforcement of federal immigration law. Our police departments will not honor immigration hold requests. And our University Police do not contact, detain, question or arrest individuals solely on the basis of being – or suspected of being – a person that lacks documentation.

Further…we are joining hands with other universities, colleges and educational associations across America, to protect access, affordability, intellectual freedom, inclusivity and diversity for all students…including supporting DACA students…and the communities that support them.

And finally…to our campus presidents, faculty, staff and students, I couldn’t be more proud of you.

Each campus has created just the right set of circumstances to allow a cacophony of views to be expressed – and provide support to those who seek to do so – interspersed with academic and community discussions and forums of the issues at hand.

The voices of non-violent protest have a sacred place on our campuses, and it will be one of many important forces going forward, just as it has been in past decades.

It is regrettable that – in a few cases – there are participants involved in criminal activity including vandalism and violence…and the campuses are responding properly with law enforcement and Clery notifications as situations warrant.

Let me close with a comment directed to those individuals who feel most vulnerable…your university supports you!

And as I look around the room I see others…the trustees and presidents, CSSA, the Academic Senate, the Alumni Council and our labor partners…who will stand together to support you. And when I look across the state – as mentioned – I know we stand with the UC, the community colleges and many other political and business leaders.