CHANUKAH SURPISE FROM UC; MAJOR VICTORY HAILED

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Santa Cruz, CA, Dec. 22, 2014 – Twenty-two advocacy groups today applauded University of California (UC) Provost Aimee Dorr and UC administrators for protecting the well-being of Jewish students.  For the first time ever, UC administrators publicly affirmed that UC faculty are prohibited from bringing hateful anti-Semitic propaganda and the boycott of Israel into the classroom.

In response to a letter sent from these groups earlier this month asking if the UC policies that prohibit UAW 2865 graduate student instructors from promoting BDS in the classroom also apply to UC faculty, Dorr, late Friday, responded by stating, “I understand from your letter that you are concerned that UC faculty may promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in the classroom and that you are seeking clarification as to whether the Regents Policy on Course Content applies to UC faculty members.  In response to your question, the Regents Policy on Course Content does apply to UC faculty members.”

“We strongly applaud Provost Dorr, President Napolitano and all UC administrators for sending a clear message to professors that our classrooms are for education, not political indoctrination,” said Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA Initiative co-founder and UC faculty member.  “This marks a huge victory for ensuring the well-being of Jewish students.”

Twelve of these groups wrote to UC President Janet Napolitano in August after UAW 2865 announced its intent to call for a vote in support of BDS and urge its graduate student members to pledge their personal participation in the academic boycott of Israeli universities and scholars.

Dorr, on behalf of Napolitano, affirmed for the groups that the Regents 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.

More than 40 UC faculty members signed a statement of support for the UAW’s call for BDS saying, “As faculty, it is now our turn to support our student-workers, teaching assistants, and advisees as they take this bold and courageous step.”  In addition, more than 200 UC faculty, including several department chairs and program directors have endorsed the academic boycott of Israel.

“Although we recognize that faculty have every right as private citizens to support student BDS initiatives and to endorse an academic boycott of Israel, we are concerned that these same faculty may try to bring their enmity towards the Jewish state and the promotion of efforts to harm it into their university classrooms and conference halls,” wrote the pro-Israel advocacy groups when they posed the question to Dorr earlier this month.  “Unfortunately, those faculty who misuse the university in this way contribute to the creation of a hostile and threatening environment for many Jewish students, who report feeling harassed and intimidated by their professors and isolated from their peers.”

A letter of appreciation was sent today from the 22 groups to Dorr.  A full copy is below.

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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.

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December 22, 2014

Dear Provost Dorr,

Thank you very much for your response to our letter asking for clarification about whether the Regents Policy on Course Content, which you had already acknowledged applies to graduate student instructors, also applies to faculty.  As you rightly understand, we are quite concerned about UC faculty who may use the classroom to promote their personal animosity towards Israel and efforts to harm it, including BDS.  Besides corrupting the academic mission of the University, such behavior creates a hostile environment for Jewish and pro-Israel students, who have reported feeling harassed and intimidated by their professors and isolated from their fellow students.  We are therefore extremely grateful for your acknowledgement that the Regents Policy on Course Content, which prohibits the misuse of the classroom for the advance of partisan interests and political indoctrination, applies equally to graduate student instructors and faculty.

We also appreciate that you copied all of the UC Chancellors on your response, and we hope that in light of your very clear statement, administrators on each campus will strictly enforce the Regents Policy on Course Content in the case of both graduate student instructors and faculty, thereby ensuring that all students — including Jewish and pro-Israel students — have access to a quality learning environment that is safe and non-discriminatory.

Sincerely,

Accuracy in Academia

Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity (AEPi)

AMCHA Initiative

American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists

Americans for Peace and Tolerance

Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law

Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA)

CUFI on Campus

David Horowitz Freedom Center

Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET)

Hasbara Fellowships

Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel

National Conference on Jewish Affairs

Proclaiming Justice to the Nations

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East

Simon Wiesenthal Center

StandWithUs

Students and Parents Against Campus Anti-Semitism

The Lawfare Project

Training and Education About the Middle East (T.E.A.M.)

Verity Educate

Zionist Organization of America

 

 

Cc:      UC President Janet Napolitano

UC Regents

UC Chancellors

Executive Vice Chacellors/Provosts

California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson

California Senator Carol Liu, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Education

California Assembly Member Das Williams, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Higher Education

California Assembly Member Shirley Weber, Chair of the Select Committee on Campus Climate

California State Senator Marty Block, Chair of Legislative Jewish Caucus

California Jewish Community Leaders