Message from President Robert A. Corrigan regarding Business building occupation
Note: the following e-mail was sent on 12/11/09 to all faculty and staff. The same message will be sent to students Friday evening.
The short-lived occupation of the Business building at San Francisco State University on Dec. 9 by protesters was not a peaceful sit-in, not a student demonstration, and not an expression of free speech but an illegitimate takeover that denied thousands of students their educational rights.
When protesters forced their way into the building and chained and barricaded the doors, they caused the cancellation of all classes in that building that day. More than 3,000 students and faculty were shut out. This happened at a particularly crucial time, just before final examinations. We could not allow a second day of such educational disruption, so after the intruders rebuffed attempts at dialogue by the University, I instructed University Police to return the building to use by the entire campus community. Their efforts were effective and no one was injured during the incident.
Make no mistake. I support -- and indeed cherish -- the right to protest, to peaceably assemble, to air grievances and to speak one’s mind. These freedoms are celebrated at SF State and serve as the foundation of our community. Barricading a building is not befitting our cherished liberties. It was an intolerable and unlawful affront to them.
The demands listed by the protesters demonstrated how far from the very real needs of students and the campus they had strayed. You can find the list, which included such items as closure of all prisons, a 50 percent tax on multinational corporations, and the dissolution of the CSU Board of Trustees, at http://www.sfsu.edu/news/announce/demands.pdf
The protesters also demanded that no disciplinary action be taken against them. If you are going to engage in an act of civil disobedience, then you should have the courage of your actions. Civil rights activists – and I was one -- did not demand immunity; they acted and changed our nation.
SF State and public higher education in California are in a state of crisis. We face unprecedented underfunding, which is harming students, faculty and staff and has forced us to turn away thousands of qualified students. We need to focus our collective efforts on restoring needed funding, keeping buildings open, and maintaining instruction. Students should be struggling to keep buildings open, not keep them closed.
Robert A. Corrigan, president