Santa Cruz, CA, Dec. 10, 2014 – Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA Initiative co-founder and director, issued the following statement in response to today’s announcement that UAW 2865, the union representing 13,000 graduate instructors on nine University of California (UC) campuses, has voted to join the international campaign for “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) against Israel.
“An academic boycott is blatantly antithetical to the mission of a university. And the global movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel is antisemitic. On campus, it creates a hostile environment for many Jewish students who report feeling harassed and intimidated by their professors and isolated from their peers.
“We are particularly grateful that UC Provost Aimee Dorr has disseminated to all UC Chancellors the UC policies that prohibit graduate student instructors from using the university classroom to promote anti-Israel propaganda or an antisemitic boycott of Israel.
“We call on all UC administrators to ensure that these policies are strictly enforced, that UC classrooms are used for education and not political indoctrination, and that all students — including Jewish and pro-Israel students — have equal access to a safe and non-discriminatory learning environment.”
In August, after UAW 2865 announced its intent to call for a BDS vote, AMCHA coordinated a letter from twelve groups to Janet Napolitano and the UC Board of Regents urging them to prohibit the graduate students from promoting BDS in the classroom and on the campus square.
UC Provost Aimee Dorr, on behalf of Napolitano, affirmed for the groups that the University’s Policy on Course Content and other UC policies prohibit academic student employees (ASEs) from engaging in such actions. She also wrote to all Chancellors notifying them of the UC policies which prohibit ASEs from using their instructional positions to promote political propaganda or advocacy, including the promotion of a boycott of Israel.
Earlier this week, 22 education, civil rights and Jewish advocacy organizations wrote to the UC Regents asking if the UC policies that prohibit UAW 2865 graduate student instructors from promoting BDS and anti-Israel, and often anti-Semitic, propaganda in the classroom also apply to UC faculty.
AMCHA Initiative is a non-profit organization, based in California, dedicated to investigating, documenting, educating about, and combating antisemitism at institutions of higher education in America. AMCHA Initiative’s efforts are bolstered by a network of more than 5,000 members and supporters of the Jewish community — including university alumni, parents and grandparents, rabbis, religious school principals and synagogue members — who have joined together to speak in one voice to ensure the safety and well-being of Jewish students on college and university campuses across the country.