UC student group rejects Napolitano's apology for 'crap' remark

UC student association leader says Napolitano showed disrespect for free expression.

UC president Janet Napolitano apologized Thursday for a crude remark she made the day before about student protesters who interrupted a regents meeting.

But the UC Student Assn. is not in a forgiving mood.

In a statement released Thursday night, the student organization said  Napolitano’s private description, captured on video, of the protest as "crap" showed "a disturbing disconnect with the students she serves" and was a slap at free expression.

"Her role as president has given her the opportunity to be a true champion for students and the future of public higher education, but the comments she made point to disrespect for public expression of the student interest," Jefferson Kuoch-Seng, president of the UC Student Assn., said in the statement.

"It takes a lot of courage to speak in public in front of figures of authority, and being vulnerable about concerns," the statement continued. "To hear this come from the president of the University makes it even more challenging for students to come forward to share their thoughts with university administration, especially when it is accompanied by an intimidating police presence."

As student protesters interrupted Wednesday morning’s UC regents meeting with chanting and partial disrobing, Napolitano turned to UC regents Chairman Bruce Varner and said: "Let’s go. We don’t have to listen to this crap."

With all the yelling in the room, few others probably heard her at the time, but her comments were caught on a UC video stream of the meeting that is posted on the regents website.

On Thursday, Napolitano apologized.

"I’m sorry for using a word I don’t usually use," Napolitano said at the regents meeting at UC San Francisco. Her choice of the word, she said, was "unfortunate."

But she also asked for "empathy and understanding" in what led to her videotaped tart remark she had meant as private.

During her apology, Napolitano noted that the protest had interrupted the public comment period and regents' discussions that were meant to help solve the budget problems facing the university. She said that "protecting the accessibility, affordability and quality" of UC education is the most important work ahead.

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