YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Janet Napolitano gets mixed reception during visit to UCLA

October 11, 2013|By Larry Gordon
  • Internal Vice President of the Undergraduate Student Assn. Council Avi Oved, left, presents a UCLA T-shirt to University of California's President Janet Napolitano on Friday.
Internal Vice President of the Undergraduate Student Assn. Council Avi… (Francine Orr / Los Angeles…)

New University of California President Janet Napolitano received a mixed reception Friday during her first official visit to UCLA, facing protesters who dislike her past policies as U.S.  secretary of Homeland Security but also meeting with student leaders who praised her as listening to their concerns.

Napolitano came to the Westwood campus for a series of private meetings with students, faculty and administrators. Since taking over the presidency two weeks ago, she has been touring the 10-campus system and learning more about its finances, massive facilities and programs.

“I’m here to listen and learn,” Napolitano said after meeting over lunch with 22 UCLA student leaders. In brief comments to reporters, she said she would try to respond in coming months to students’ concerns about such issues as financial aid and increasing ethnic diversity on campuses.

She said she saw her job as being “a public advocate for higher education and to keep this system as really the lodestar for what public education ought to be.”

Nicole Robinson, president of the UCLA Graduate Student Assn., said Napolitano “seemed engaging and genuine, which was refreshing.” And as a result of meeting with students so early in her presidency, Napolitano earned some good will, said Robinson, who is in a doctoral program in Italian literature. But, she added, students will follow up to ensure the new president acts on their issues, such as increasing support for the humanities.

About 40 students demonstrated against Napolitano, saying they did not trust her because deportations of people who entered the United States illegally increased during her time as head of the federal agency. They also contended that Napolitano, who previously was Arizona governor, does not have the qualifications to head a prestigious university system.

The protesters first marched in a circle near the Bruin statue at the center of the UCLA campus. They then moved outside the dining hall where Napolitano hosted the lunch. The UC president rushed past the protesters, who chanted slogans against her as she entered the facility, without comment.

“We do not think she is the right choice to be UC president. We believe our institution stands for the complete opposite of what she stands for. She stands for militarization, privatization and increasing the national security state and culture of suspicion,” said Antonio Elizondo, a senior international development major.

Elizondo said he was brought to the United States illegally from Mexico at age 14 and feared what could happen in the future -- even though he is temporarily not at risk of deportation because of the Obama administration's  deferred-action program, which allows people who were brought into the country illegally as children to stay in the U.S. at least for two years.


L.A. city attorney moves to shut down illegal pot shops

10 Bay Area students suspended over Instagram photo flap

Police union manager who stole $360,000 gets 4 years in prison

Los Angeles Times Articles