Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Response to UCLA Leadership's Failure

The UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology condemns the violent acts committed against the students, staff, and faculty who were part of the peaceful protests from April 30 to May 2. The university’s inability to protect its members from both the violent mob and the excessive force of law enforcement is unacceptable. This failure directly contradicts the principles of academic freedom and safety that should be guaranteed on a university campus. We stand in solidarity with our staff, students, and faculty emphasizing that peaceful protest is a fundamental right that should be supported, not suppressed by those in power.

Our staff, faculty, and students who were present at these events reported that the initial response to the peaceful encampment was supportive, recognizing it as a model of self-discipline and non-violence. This perception drastically changed following the statements from President Drake and Chancellor Block, which not only mischaracterized the nature of the protest but also left our community vulnerable to attacks. The subsequent physical assaults, including the use of pepper spray, projectiles, and high-power fireworks against our community, are deeply alarming. These acts of violence have no place in any society, especially not in an academic setting that is meant to foster dialogue and understanding.

We demand immediate action from the university administration to rectify the harms inflicted upon our community. This includes:


1)    Full amnesty for all those who were arrested, financial support for medical and legal expenses, and a transparent, independent investigation into the failures that led to these tragic events. 

2)    The prioritization of student and staff well-being, especially for staff and students of color, and those who are Arab, Muslim, Palestinian, and Jewish. This prioritization could take many forms including expanded health support directed at these populations and forums on restorative justice and healing.   

3)    A Title IX investigation into the authority who allowed the installation and propagation of

harmful and traumatizing content on the counter-protest jumbotron.

4)    A serious reevaluation of the policies regarding campus safety and protest management to ensure that all members of the university community have the right to express their views safely and without fear of retaliation or violence.

5)    A serious reevaluation of campus and building access rules and the rewriting of protocols so that they best support staff, student, and faculty safety and well-being during moments of crisis. 


The university must take decisive steps to rebuild trust and uphold the values it purports to represent, ensuring that such failures in leadership and protection never occur again.

Published on May 4, 2024.