U.C.L.A. Faculty Votes Against Rebuking University’s Chancellor

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The Academic Senate at the University of California, Los Angeles, voted against two resolutions seeking to rebuke the school’s chancellor, Gene Block, largely over his handling of an attack on a pro-Palestinian encampment two weeks ago.

The results of the votes, conducted after a three-hour meeting on Thursday, were released on Friday and showed that only 43 percent of voting members had backed a no-confidence motion. A motion to censure Dr. Block was evenly split, 88 for and 88 against, failing to achieve a simple majority of support.

“It is clear that we are not united in how we view the major events of the past weeks and the campus response to them,” Andrea M. Kasko, the Senate chair, said in a statement. “I hope that we can try to find common ground as colleagues, and have the courage to listen with open minds and open hearts even when we do not agree.”

Formal rebukes by faculty were unlikely to have practical implications for Dr. Block, 75, who is set to step down as chancellor in July, said William G. Tierney, a professor emeritus of higher education at the University of Southern California who has written about the response to campus protests across the nation.

Dr. Tierney said he doubted that Michael V. Drake, the president of the University of California system, would require Dr. Block’s resignation “before that time.”

But faculty members who backed the resolutions said they felt compelled to speak up on behalf of students and show resolve to Dr. Block’s successor.

“While we were not able to obtain a majority vote on either resolution, it is important to note that 50 percent of those who voted called for a censure of Chancellor Block’s actions,” said Carlos Santos, an associate professor of social welfare and a voting member of the Academic Senate. “I remain committed to joining my colleagues in denouncing Chancellor Block’s actions but also in calling for his resignation.”

Those who voted against rebuking the chancellor said they felt that the effort was motivated by support for the pro-Palestinian demonstrators, and not by a desire to improve future processes.

“If we were sincerely concerned about what went wrong and how we can change in the future, we wouldn’t have been so intent on rushing through this poorly thought-out resolution without gathering information or building consensus,” said Jeff Maloy, an associate professor of teaching in the molecular, cell and developmental biology department, and a voting member of the Senate.

Dr. Block, through a spokesman, declined to comment.

A group of faculty members called a special meeting of the Academic Senate last week in the aftermath of the attack on April 30, in which a group of counterprotesters, whom Dr. Block later described as “instigators,” sprayed pro-Palestinian demonstrators with pepper spray, beat them with metal and wood, and shot fireworks into their encampment.

The attack, which began not long after Dr. Block declared the encampment illegal, went on for hours without police intervention. The next day, police officers in riot gear arrested more than 200 protesters as they cleared the encampment.

Faculty members who supported rebuking Dr. Block recounted with horror how they had watched their students suffer injuries during both the attack and when the encampment was dismantled.

A few faculty members spoke against the resolutions, including some who said they were disturbed by some Jewish students’ accounts of antisemitism at the encampment.

While the Academic Senate includes all faculty members who meet certain criteria — generally, those who are tenured or are tenure-track — only a smaller group known as the Legislative Assembly, which consists of members selected to represent campus departments, is allowed to vote on resolutions.

Almost 400 faculty members attended Thursday’s virtual meeting, and several dozen speakers weighed in on the resolutions, with a majority speaking in favor of a no-confidence resolution or a censure.

Faculty members at universities around the country have taken such steps to make their positions known: On Thursday, a Columbia faculty group passed a resolution of no confidence in its president. And last week, faculty members at U.S.C., a private institution across town from U.C.L.A., voted to censure its president.

Regardless of the vote’s outcome, Dr. Tierney said that Dr. Block’s actions in recent weeks would leave “a blemish on an otherwise noteworthy career.”

In the days after April 30, Dr. Drake, the University of California president, as well as state and local leaders demanded investigations into U.C.L.A.’s response.

Dr. Block will also have to answer questions from members of Congress; he has been summoned to testify next week before a House committee that has grilled other education leaders over their responses to antisemitism.



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