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Students Refuse to Cease and Desist Using Bear Image

November 8, 2018
 
 

The University of California, Los Angeles, asked a student Palestinian-rights group to remove UCLA's name and references to the university's Bruin Bear mascot from its promotional materials. The students are pushing back.

A logo for Students for Justice in Palestine's upcoming conference depicts a bear with a Palestinian kite, which, the university claimed in its cease-and-desist letter, "some may interpret as an intention to endorse violence." The university also requested that the group remove any mention of UCLA except to state where the conference will be held.

"Taken as a whole, these uses claim, suggest, or imply an affiliation with or an endorsement by UCLA of [National Students for Justice in Palestine] and/or its annual conference which is simply incorrect," the letter read.

The students, in conjunction with the ACLU of Southern California and Palestine Legal, issued a statement in response.

“We condemn attempts by UCLA administration to taint imagery that is grounded in freedom and liberation. Moreover, we reject UCLA’s attempt to infringe on our right to associate a bear (which is not trademarked) and a kite -- a children's toy -- with justice for the Palestinian people,” the statement read in part. “The stated demands are ridiculous, and we will continue to use both design elements.”

The ACLU of Southern California and Palestine Legal sent an additional letter to university officials and requested a response from them by Nov. 9 that confirms they will not take legal action against the students.

Tod Tamberg, a university spokesman, said that the students had complied with the university's request to remove "UCLA" from the conference logo.

"Some members of the Jewish community have been sharply critical of upcoming conference, demanding that UCLA move to cancel it. As a public university, UCLA is legally bound to comply with the First Amendment, which protects everyone’s right to express their views, even those that are offensive and hateful or that the university opposes," Tamberg wrote in an email. "Use of campus facilities by a registered student organization to host an event neither constitutes nor implies UCLA’s endorsement of the event, the speakers or the views expressed."

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