University of California status under the Constitution of the State of California—

The State's Constitution creates the University of California as a public trust with full powers of organization and government- See Article 9, Section 9 of the California State Constitution.   The University's autonomy is thus assured in the state's highest law.  This autonomy is to be protected at all times and under any circumstance.  This favored position can never be taken for granted. It must be continuously affirmed by the University's policies and actions consonant with its mission and high purpose, such being the only means by which this protection can be sustained and not abridged.

University of California Statement of Purpose: The function of the university is to seek and to transmit knowledge and to train students in the processes whereby truth is to be made known…The University is founded upon faith in intelligence and knowledge and it must defend their free operation.  It must rely on truth to combat error.  Its obligation is to see that the conditions under which questions are examined are those which give play to intellect rather than to passion…Its high function—and its high privilege, the University will steadily continue to fulfill, serving the people by providing facilities for investigation and teaching free from domination by parties, sects, or selfish interests.  The University expects the State, in return, and to its own great gain, to protect this indispensable freedom, a freedom like the freedom of the press, that is the heritage and the right of a free people. (Quoted in David P. Gardner Inaugural Address, April 12, 1984, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California)

Freedom to learn: The University is not engaged in making ideas safe for students.  It is engaged in making students safe for ideas.  Thus it permits the freest expression of views before students, trusting to their good sense in passing judgment on these views.  Only in this way can it best serve American democracy. (Clark Kerr, The Gold and the Blue: A Personal Memoir of the University of California, 1949-1967, Vol. Two (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), p. 131.)

Unhindered pursuit of truth: The primary purpose of the university is that all the individuals who carry on the active life of the community shall be both encouraged and unhindered to pursue the truth wherever, to each of them severally, it shall seem, at the moment, to lead.  And the danger which must, therefore, be avoided is that the university, by committing itself officially to any political or sectarian belief will, consciously or unconsciously, abridge the freedom of its individual members.  (Alexander Meiklejohn, University of Wisconsin, quoted in Clark Kerr, The Gold and the Blue: A Personal Memoir of the University of California, 1949-1967, Vol. Two (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), p. 150.)

A life committed to academic freedom: The University of California, like all universities in America, is committed to the established values of academic life: patient inquiry; the sequential development of ideas; the emphasis on reasoned discussion and criticism; and the continued reference to evidence.  These values affirm the university's faith in intelligence and knowledge and its obligation to ensure the conditions for their free exercise.  Ideas are to be welcomed, exchanged, critically examined, freely debated, and respected.

These values are the means by which the cause of truth is carried forward.  They are the values that distinguish the university from governments, churches, business and other institutions, parties, groups, and associations in our society.  They form the core of the enterprise and the basis of whatever respect and freedom the university can hope to command from the larger society.  They should be nurtured and protected, not contravened; and these values stand in contrast to economic sanctions, boycotts, institutional pressuring, and similar means of effecting change which are more coercive than they are reasoned expressions of the human will.  (Taken from David Gardner's remarks to the Regents, June 1986, in Earning My Degree, p. 287)