Dozens of UC students protested the leadership of UC President Janet Napolitano Monday at the UCDC Center in Washington D.C., where she met with UC graduates and 14 selected students at a special alumni event.
Gathered outside the closed meeting, demonstrators held signs and flooded Napolitano’s office with phone calls to advocate restructuring the 10-campus University system and removing Napolitano as president of the University. UC students from throughout the state protested Napolitano’s leadership for her role in deporting over one million undocumented immigrants, as the former Secretary of Homeland Security.
Calling for a removal of Napolitano from office, protestors also spoke against the structure of the University, which does not hold a democratic process for selecting the president and UC Regents, according to Priscilla Silva, a UCLA undergraduate who helped organize Monday’s protest.
“We demand that next and all future UC presidents be someone who is more accessible to students, administration and staff,” Silva said. “We demand a restructuring of the system to make the UC system more democratic. We demand the resignation or impeachment of Janet Napolitano as UC President immediately.”
Last fall, Napolitano announced the UC would set aside $5 million in University money for undocumented students, with these funds not coming from the state or student fees. Associated Students External Vice President of Statewide Affairs Alex Choate, a fourth-year political science major, said steps like this show the support Napolitano has for UC students.
“[She has] been incredibly student-friendly,” Choate said. “She does Google Hangouts specifically for students or faculty and has given so much money to undocumented students and set up so many taskforces to address student issues.”
But according to UC Irvine student Jason Arceneaux, the deportations made under Napolitano’s term as Secretary of Homeland Security from 2009 to 2013 make her unfit to lead the UC system.
“There were over 2.2 million people deported under the rule of Janet Napolitano, and some of those were UC students,” Arceneaux said. “I feel it’s very unethical and immoral to deport students and then be the leader of the university system.”
UC Davis student Ambar Rodriguez said communicating these concerns to Napolitano is crucial, but so far, the UC president has yet to sit down and listen to students in an open meeting.
“I think it is important to reach out to our President and let her know exactly how we feel. After all, we are the current students attending the UC system,” Rodriguez said. “Attempts have been made in the past to meet with our President, but she will not address our concerns.”
Inside Monday’s event, Napolitano spoke to alumni and students about her current efforts to improve the University, according to UC Office of the President Spokesperson Shelly Meron.
“The center held a successful event with more than 200 UC alumni in attendance from around the Washington D.C. area,” Meron said. “President Napolitano gave remarks about the work she’s been doing for the university and her vision for UC and answered questions on a variety of issues including tuition and student diversity.”
A version of this story appeared on page 5 of Thursday, May 22, 2014′s print edition of the Daily Nexus.