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UCLA academic senate rejects censure and ‘no confidence’ vote on Chancellor Gene Block

LOS ANGELES — Representatives of the University of California, Los Angeles academic senate have voted against censuring or making a “no confidence” statement against UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, rejecting a call to issue a formal disapproval of his leadership amid criticism over the university’s response to a violent mob attack at a pro-Palestinian campus encampment more than two weeks ago.

On a “no confidence” resolution, 79 faculty members approved, 103 opposed, five abstained, and seven members were present but did not vote, with only 43 percent of voters voting against UCLA’s top leader.

On censure, 88 faculty members approved, 88 opposed, three abstained and 15 were present but did not vote. Since the vote was split 50 percent for and against censure, it did not pass as it needed a majority to succeed.

“This shows that many faculty support Chancellor Block and they understand that he was adhering to UC policy,” said a source who was not authorized to speak publicly. “People are realizing that Chancellor Block was put in an impossible situation.”

The decision by the academic senate, even if the motions passed, would have been a largely symbolic vote with no legal authority over Block’s position.

Both votes focused on whether Block “failed to ensure the safety of our students and grievously mishandled the events” related to the April 30 violence at the Westwood campus, when a mob attacked a pro-Palestinian encampment overnight amid a delayed police response, leading to multiple injuries. Police later moved in to take down of the encampment, arresting more than 200 protesters. The no confidence and censure motions used the same language.

The senate’s decision takes one issue off a list of mounting challenges the chancellor faces in his last six weeks on the job.

In a Wednesday letter, Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, requested that Block, University of California President Michael V. Drake and Rich Leib, chair of the UC Board of Regents, produce all documents, communications and security videos related to antisemitic events at UCLA since the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

The committee gave a May 21 deadline, two days ahead of a Washington, D.C., hearing in which Block and his counterparts from Michigan and Yale will testify on antisemitism at college campuses.

In other developments:

* A group protesting the war in Gaza and demanding that the University of Chicago divest from companies doing business with Israel temporarily took over a building on the school’s campus. Members of the group surrounded the Institute of Politics building around 5 p.m. Friday while others made their way inside, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

On Friday, campus police officers using riot shields gained access to the Institute of Politics building and scuffled with protesters. Some protesters climbed from a second-floor window, according to the Sun-Times. The school said protesters attempted to bar the entrance, damaged university property and ignored directives to clear the way, and that those inside the building left when campus police officers entered. No arrests or injuries were reported.

* Penn students launched a new, short-lived, pro-Palestinian encampment Friday night, leading to multiple arrests. The encampment inside the school’s Fisher-Bennett Hall came one week after Philadelphia and campus police disbanded one that had lasted a little more than two weeks and had led to 33 arrests. Members of the Penn Gaza Solidarity Encampment announced the new installation about 8 p.m. Within the hour, police could be seen closing in. By 9:20 p.m. there were reports from the scene that police had some people in custody.

* The University of Colorado Denver will move to remote classes and work “until further notice” because of the ongoing anti-war encampment on the Auraria Campus, university officials said in a message Friday to students, faculty and staff.

* The president of Sonoma State University has retired from his role after being placed on leave for issuing a controversial campus-wide message on the Israel-Hamas war. California State University chancellor Mildred Garcia said in a statement Thursday that President Ming Tung “Mike” Lee informed her of his decision to retire.

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