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UCLA faculty fails to censure chancellor over pro-Palestinian protests

The Academic Senate of the University of California, Los Angeles voted against issuing a “no confidence” statement against the school’s chancellor, Dr. Gene Block. Photo courtesy of the University of California, Los Angeles
1 of 3 | The Academic Senate of the University of California, Los Angeles voted against issuing a “no confidence” statement against the school’s chancellor, Dr. Gene Block. Photo courtesy of the University of California, Los Angeles

May 18 (UPI) -- The Academic Senate of the University of California, Los Angeles, voted against issuing a "no confidence" statement against the school's chancellor, or censuring him.

Of the 194 UCLA Academic Senate faculty members present at the three-hour meeting Thursday, 79 approved issuing the "no confidence" statement related to Chancellor Gene Block, while 103 opposed it, five abstained, and seven did not cast a vote.

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A motion to censure Block also failed to pass after a vote to do so was split evenly, needing a majority to pass.

The criticism being leveled by the UCLA faculty relates to Block's handling of on-campus protests by pro-Palestinain demonstrators.

At the start of May, the public land-grant research university's administration informed pro-Palestinian protesters that an encampment erected on the school's campus was "unlawful" and violated school policies. It later moved to disband the ongoing demonstration, which was demanding UCLA divest itself from Israel.

"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 Friday, following the release of the voting results.

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"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."

Block is set to retire in July, a month before he turns 76.

The biologist and academic administrator was hired in 2007 as the 6th chancellor in UCLA history.

Both the "no confidence" statement and censuring were symbolic and would likely not have had an effect if they had passed.

Block is not the first top administrator from a high-profile school to face backlash from faculty over the handling of on-campus protests.

On Friday, faculty members in Columbia University's Department of Arts and Sciences passed a vote of no confidence against the institution's president, Minouche Shafik, over her handling of pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

Faculty at the University of Southern California took similar steps this month.

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