AMCHA Initiative Endorses Bipartisan Campus Free Speech Bill
AMCHA’s Director Testifies as Expert Witness Before California Education Committee
Contact: Nicole Rosen
Sacramento, CA, April 3 – Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, the director of AMCHA Initiative, today testified before the California State Assembly’s Committee on Higher Education in support of AB 2374, the Free Speech on Campus Act of 2018.
The bipartisan bill, introduced by Assemblymen Kevin Kiley (R-6th) and Bill Quirk (D-20th), calls on campuses of the California Community Colleges, California State University, and University of California to create and disseminate statements that affirm the importance of free expression. It also encourages the development of programs to educate students about the value of tolerance and freedom of thought and inquiry on a college campus.
“Over the past year, there has been a sharp spike in acts of hatred and intolerance targeting African Americans, Jews, Muslims, LGBTQ community members, immigrants, women and individuals who hold divergent ideological and political views,” testified Rossman-Benjamin who also served as a faculty member at the University of California for twenty years. “Our research and monitoring indicate that this is most problematic on college campuses, where we find that one group’s freedom of expression is being used to denigrate, harass, intimidate and shut down the expression of another group, depriving students of their rights and undermining the very mission of a university.”
AMCHA has been working with universities across the country to encourage the adoption of equitable responses to exclusionary behavior and the implementation of initiatives that educate students about First Amendment rights and encourage tolerance and respect for the expression of a wide range of views.
“While our organization focuses primarily on protecting Jewish students from intolerant behavior that is anti-Semitic, we believe the entire campus benefits when all students are ensured equal protection from exclusionary behavior,” stated Rossman-Benjamin before the Committee. “The Free Speech on Campus Act will go a long way toward that goal of restoring civility and respect on UC, CSU and California Community College campuses, and upholding the pillars of higher education that will benefit our state and our nation for years to come.”
Rossman-Benjamin led a coalition of 50 Jewish and education advocacy groups that successfully lobbied the University of California (UC) to adopt its landmark Principles Against Intolerance statement to combat rising bigotry and ensure the protection of all students’ rights to freedom of expression and a campus free from intimidation and denigration.
AMCHA monitors more than 400 college campuses across the U.S. for anti-Semitic activity. Campus anti-Semitism increased 40% and genocidal expression doubled in 2016, according to AMCHA’s most recent annual study. The organization recorded 655 known anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, and 159 so far in 2018. Its daily anti-Semitism tracker, organized by state and university, can be viewed here.