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Protests and the Importance of Education

The recent violent protests at UCLA have stirred deep concern and raised pertinent questions about the sanctity of our academic institutions. 

Previously I served as executive director of Autism Speaks, and that was largely motivated by my autistic niece. Despite her early struggles with severe developmental delays and being non-verbal, she’s now getting ready to tackle college life at Northwestern on scholarship. I’m incredibly proud of her, but also incredibly nervous. I imagine many family members with kids in our university system have similar nervous feelings.

These issues and events we are witnessing at UCLA, and to be fair, other institutions around the country, strike at the heart of our educational values.

Students pursuing their education deserve a safe, respectful environment conducive to learning. Unfortunately, recent events have showcased chaos, intimidation and lawlessness, orchestrated by fringe elements funded by extremist groups with troubling agendas. It is imperative that these actions are met with consequences, ensuring that free speech and expression, crucial pillars of our democracy, are safeguarded for all.

During my tenure on the Committee on Higher Education, I had numerous engagements with school presidents and leaders from various educational systems. It became evident that our campuses and universities are not just places of learning but also belong to all Californians, serving the public good. This realization underscores the need for accountability from university leadership when faced with challenges such as unchecked extremism, curtailed free speech, and rising sentiments of racism and antisemitism.

Click here to read the full article in the Santa Clarita Valley Signal.