3,000 CALL ON UC TO COMBAT INTOLERANCE AND PROTECT FREE SPEECH
Recent Violence and Shutdowns at UC Berkeley, Middlebury College and Across Our Nation Demonstrate Deteriorating Campus Climate and Demand Response
Contact: Nicole Rosen
Santa Cruz, CA, March 16, 2017 – In the same week as a new report found that hate crimes, most notably attacks against Jews and Muslims, increased 20% in 2016, AMCHA Initiative’s director, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, delivered a petition to the University of California (UC) Regents signed by 3,097 concerned parents, students, teachers, religious leaders, and community members calling on each UC Chancellor to implement a policy to promote tolerance on campus and protect students’ civil rights and free speech.
The new hate crime report was conducted by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. It found that there were 1,037 incidents, a 23.3% increase from 2015, in the nine metro areas the report examined. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported last month that the number of hate groups in the U.S. rose to 917 in 2016.
AMCHA’s initial assessment of 2016 found that anti-Semitism on campus continued to rise, and an extremely troubling form, expression that calls for genocidal anti-Semitism, more than doubled. AMCHA’s full 2016 report on campus anti-Semitism will be released next week. In the organization’s 2015 study, which documented more than 300 incidents nationwide that year, five UC schools topped the list for the highest incidence of anti-Semitism.
“Alongside a sharp spike in anti-Semitic activity reported nationally are hundreds of acts of hatred and intolerance targeting Muslims, African Americans, LGBTQ community members, immigrants, women and individuals who hold divergent ideological and political viewpoints and identities. Sadly, we are witnessing an unprecedented unwillingness to accept, or merely recognize and respect, backgrounds, beliefs or behavior that differ from one’s own,” stated Rossman-Benjamin in her remarks before the Regents. “Our research indicates this is most problematic on college campuses, where individuals are at a particularly passionate time in their lives.”
“Last March, in response to the alarming escalation of anti-Semitism at the University of California, the UC Regents unanimously passed a landmark ‘Statement of Principles Against Intolerance.’ In the current climate of increasing polarization and rising levels of hatred and intolerance, it is not only Jewish students who are being targeted for harm, but many other students as well…We believe the landmark Regents Statement of Principles Against Intolerance couldn’t be more relevant, timely and important for all UC students,” wrote the signatories in the petition.
Rossman-Benjamin noted that campus events that in previous years would have been peaceful protests have evolved into violence, shutdowns and disruptions, violating the civil rights of fellow students. In addition to the violence that broke out at UC Berkeley and Middlebury College over the scheduled appearance of controversial speakers, some California examples involving the types of incidents AMCHA tracks include:
- Stanford University: SJP members disrupted and held a “die-in” in the middle of a peaceful Stanford Israel Association & Jewish Student Association sponsored “Israel Block Party.”
- University of California, Davis: SJP members disrupted a peaceful Aggies for Israel event.
- San Francisco State University: Members of an anti-Israel student group disrupted a Hillel event involving a speech by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. They succeeded in stopping the event due to the loud disruptions that occurred for more than an hour. The mayor could only speak to a handful of attendees that circled around him. The majority of the audience was prevented from partaking in the event.
- University of California, Irvine: A pro-Israel student group’s event was disrupted by an anti-Zionist student group who physically and verbally intimidated and harassed attendees. Police had to escort attendees out of the event for their own safety.
“While my organization specifically tracks incidents of anti-Semitism, intolerant behavior is harming students from all types backgrounds and beliefs, and when that happens, all students suffer,” stated Rossman-Benjamin to the Regents. “Thanks to your prescient and exemplary work, UC already has an excellent blueprint for addressing this rising intolerance, and we urge you to have each Chancellor fully implement it for the sake of all students.”
AMCHA Initiative is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to combating anti-Semitism at colleges and universities in the United States.