The University of Arizona has gone one better than Yager. On March 19, two agents from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol were giving a presentation at a job-recruiting fair, having been invited by the undergraduate Criminal Justice Association. Protesters invaded the room and continuously screamed “murder patrol” and “murderers,” preventing students from listening. “We won’t stop until you get off our campus,” the protesters shouted, as they hounded the agents into their cars. In a sharp departure from the norm, the campus police have filed criminal-misdemeanor charges against the disruptors, for “threats and intimidation” and “interference with the peaceful conduct of an educational institution.” And the university president, Robert Robbins, after issuing a bland statement about “ensuring safety” for students and respecting others’ right to speech, followed up with a far more explicit denunciation. The “incident with the Border Patrol officers” was a “dramatic departure from our expectations of respectful behavior and support for free speech on this campus,” Robbins wrote. “Student protest is protected by our support for free speech, but disruption is not.” The administration was reviewing potential violations of student and employee codes of conduct, he said. Robbins’s turnaround followed criticism from the National Border Patrol Council and Judicial Watch, but as Stanley Kurtz has observed, the important thing is that the university is now pursuing sanctions, regardless of the impetus.
The University of Arizona has been a hotbed of Chicano activism, so the president’s stand is even more noteworthy. Naturally, faculty and students are demanding that all charges be dropped and that the CBP be permanently banned from campus so that, in the words of the faculty petition, the “learning environment does not further traumatize or disrupt the emotional, physical, psychological and holistic well-being of our students.” Robbins, of course, must resign if the demands are not met. The Department of Mexican-American Studies has issued a vote of no confidence in his leadership.