On January 29, 2007, Chairs of 3 SPME chapters from the University of California — Moshe Rosenberg at UC Davis, Leila Beckwith at UC Los Angeles, and Tammi and Ilan Benjamin at UC Santa Cruz — had an unprecedented meeting with the head of the UC Academic Senate, Professor John Oakley, to discuss concerns of anti-Israel and sometimes seemingly anti-Semitic biases in classrooms and at departmentally sponsored events across many campuses in the university system.
The meeting took place at the direction of the Regents and the President of the University of California, responding to the presentation to the Regents in September 2006 of a petition from SPME asking officials of California’s public universities to address the growing problem of hostility towards Jewish students that is a result of the anti-Israel bias on many campuses. The petition was signed by more than 3,000 faculty, students, and community members from around the world, and accompanied by letters of support from Arab, Christian, Jewish, Democratic, Republican, and academic organizations.
At the meeting with Professor Oakley, the SPME group charged that University of California Policies of the Board of Regents, Directives of the President of the University of California and the UC Academic Personnel Manual were being violated with impunity on many UC college campuses. The group further charged that the faculty and administrative leadership of the University of California had ignored these violations and thereby tacitly condoned them, resulting in an erosion of the core values of the University, its credibility and integrity, and damage to the quality of education and to individual students.
Substantial documentation of these violations on several UC campuses was presented in the form of student and faculty testimonies, reviews of courses, listings of departmentally sponsored events, a list of anti-Semitic incidents on UC campuses, and excerpts from the legal complaint against UC Irvine now being investigated under Title VI of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The SPME group offered several suggestions for how the problem of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel bias and their consequences could be constructively addressed by the University of California Academic Senate. These suggestions were consistent with the U.S. Civil Rights Commission’s recommendations from the commission’s report on campus anti-Semitism, published in July 2006. (More details about these recommendations can be obtained from the UC-SPME chapters upon request www.spme.net/chapters.html ).
During the meeting, Professor Oakley considered the charges and recommendations presented to him, and suggested that the SPME group try to use existing University of California procedures for addressing the problem, specifically urging the prosecution of individual faculty on each campus for violations of UC policy. Before deciding what further action to take, the SPME group is carefully studying the recommendations made by Professor Oakley.
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