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Jon Wiener

Jon Wiener

Posted: February 11, 2011 02:14 PM

100 faculty members at UCI, including five deans and 14 chancellor's professors and distinguished professors, have signed a letter to the Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas calling on him to drop criminal charges against 11 students who disrupted a speech on the UCI campus by the Israeli ambassador to the US last year.

The group includes Dean of the Law School Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of Social Ecology Valerie Jenness, Dean of Humanities Vicki Ruiz, and Dean of Undergraduate Education Sharon Salinger, as well as Executive Vice Dean of Medicine F. Allan Hubbell.

The students face criminal conspiracy charges and six months in jail if convicted.

"The students were wrong to prevent a speaker invited to the campus from speaking and being heard," the faculty letter says. "But the individual students and the Muslim Student Union were disciplined for this conduct by the University, including the MSU being suspended from being a student organization for a quarter." University discipline, the faculty members said, was "sufficient."

The criminal charges are "detrimental to our campus," the faculty letter argues, calling the D.A.'s action "a dangerous precedent for the use of the criminal law against non-violent protests on campus." It also criticized Rackauckas for risking "undoing the healing process which has occurred over the last year."

Among those who signed the statement were Pulitzer Prize-winning writers Jack Miles and Barry Siegel, neurobiology pioneer James McGaugh, Penelope Maddy, famous for her work in the philosophy of mathematics, and award-winning historian of China Kenneth Pomeranz. Seven law professors also joined the call.

Text of letter and list of signers at http://uci.edu/uci/features/2011/02/feature_facultyletter_110209.php