The Council of University of California Faculty Associations, an umbrella group representing faculty bodies throughout the UC system, has released a statement “in solidarity with and in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement now underway in our city and elsewhere” and is urging UC faculty to endorse that statement on an individual and collective basis.

OWS, they say, “aims to bring attention to the various forms of inequality – economic, political, and social – that characterize our times, that block opportunities for the young and strangle the hopes for better futures for the majority while generating vast profits for a very few.” The statement ends with a call for “all members of the University of California community to lend their support to the peaceful and potentially transformative movement.”

Good stuff. But it stands in stark contrast to CUCFA’s silence on the student protests that have been sweeping the UC system for more than two years, and its timidity in addressing the root causes of those protests.

The current wave of UC student agitation began in earnest in the fall of 2009, sparked by plans for huge tuition hikes in the system. In November of that year, one week before the Regents’ fee hike vote, CUCFA called for a “postponement” of the vote to ensure “transparency, accountability, and fair consideration of other options” in the decision-making process. They did not oppose the hike itself.

CUCFA was silent the following month when sixty-six Berkeley students were arrested in the course of a peaceful, non-disruptive occupation on campus, and they remained silent throughout the wave of protest and repression that followed. In November 2010 they expressed “concern” about an incident in which a UC police officer drew a gun on student protesters and the UC system lied about why, but they released no statement condemning the incident and took no action in opposition to it. They remained silent as well as student activists’ due process rights were violated in campus judicial proceedings

The University of California has engaged in a massive campaign of intimidation, disruption, and physical violence against student activists since 2009, and CUCFA has — as far as can be determined from their own website’s archive of their public statements — never once stood up in support of the students’ protests or in opposition to those protests’ suppression.

Is this OWS endorsement a first step toward a new CUCFA policy?

One can only hope.