Academic Boycott Event at UC Riverside
Incident: The UC Riverside College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHASS) and Ethnic Studies Department co-sponsored a talk by Omar Barghouti entitled “Palestine’s South Africa moment: relative justice, not relative humans.” Despite Barghouti being neither a university professor nor an academic, his status as founder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel has garnered him support from many on UCR’s faculty who also support the academic boycott of Israel, and the departments have even offered official course credit to students for attending this boycott event.
AMCHA’s Response: We began by alerting Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox of this event, the official course credit offered, and the questionable rationale for hosting Barghouti. We highlighted the fact that the event was not a legitimate expression of academic freedom, based on recent public statements from UC President Janet Napolitano in response to the ASA’s boycott. In response, we received dismissal of our claim that academic boycott was antithetical to university policy, state law, and statements from UC leaders. We then responded again, citing specific code violations and asking for a clarification of Wilcox’s statements on the matter.
AMCHA’s Correspondence with UC Riverside Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox
With AMCHA by their side, Rabbi Singer and Rabbi Cohn write to Wilcox, highlighting the propagandistic and partisan content of the event. They highlight California Government Code 8314 and California Education Code 92000 as being violated, and ask Wilcox about intended steps to prevent further violations.
AMCHA responds to Wilcox, asking how he can support the boycott event, specifically in light of UC President Janet Napolitano’s denouncement of academic boycotts. AMCHA presents state laws and UC policies, showing violations, and asking Wilcox how UCR can condone such an event given the policies not allowing such partisan activities.
AMCHA wrote Chancellor Wilcox, notifying him of the pro-boycott speaker, the endorsement of this event by UC Riverside departments, the concentration of pro-boycott faculty in support of the event, the public proclamation of such support by said faculty, citing recent public statements on academic boycott from UC leaders.