Campus Watch February 22, 2024

A roundup of incidents, good and bad, happening on college campuses.
February 22, 2024

UC Davis Student Gov’t Votes to Divest from Israel

On Feb. 16, the UC Davis student government voted in favor of a bill that bars the student government’s $20 million budget from going toward “the purchase of products from corporations identified as profiting from the genocide and occupation of the Palestinian people by the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] National Committee,” according to The Algemeiner.

The bill, which was signed into law by the student president, “makes BDS a permanent policy of the school and links it to the issue of racial justice,” The Algemeiner reported.

Hillel of Davis and Sacramento said in a statement posted to Instagram that they are “deeply disappointed” with the student government’s decision.

StandWithUs Calls on Seattle Elementary School to Investigate Lesson Glorifying Anti-Israel Protests

StandWithUs announced on Feb. 14 that they have sent a letter to a school district north of Seattle to investigate a lesson for second graders that glorified anti-Israel protests.

The letter, dated Jan. 17, expressed “deep concern” over a lesson at Syre Elementary School in Shoreline, Wash. The video showed, among other things, children doing the “from the river to the sea” chant. This video was described as young people protesting for “what is right.” After the video was shown, students were directed to make “a poster in support of Palestine.”

The Shoreline Unified School district said in a statement to the Journal, “The lesson materials that appear to have been used are not part of the district-approved ‘Social Studies Alive!’ or ‘Storypath’ curricula.”

MIT Suspends Anti-Israel Group

Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) President Sally Kornbluth announced on Feb. 13 that the university has suspended the Coalition Against Apartheid (CAA) for holding a protest on campus without receiving permission from the university.

Campus Reform reported that the protest in question was an “Emergency Action Hands Off Rafah” demonstration calling on the university to cut ties with Israeli forces. Kornbluth said in a video statement that while the university’s action had nothing to do with the CAA’s viewpoint, “we have clear, reasonable ‘time, place and manner’ policies in place – for a good reason! The point of these policies is to make sure that members of the MIT community can work, learn and do their research on campus without disruption. We also need to keep the community safe – and we can’t do that without enough advance notice to organize staff and police resources.”

The CAA claimed that the university is silencing “our voices by applying a double standard to our actions” and “that MIT fears the mass mobilization of our community.”

American Association of University Professors Backs Statement Calling for Ceasefire

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) signed onto a statement for a ceasefire in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Inside Higher Ed reported that, according to a member of the AAUP’s national council, a “significant majority” of the council voted to sign onto the statement. The statement, which was put forth by labor unions in the United States, reads in part: “We express our solidarity with all workers and our common desire for peace in Palestine and Israel, and we call on President Joe Biden and Congress to push for an immediate ceasefire and end to the siege of Gaza.” The statement also calls for Hamas to release the hostages and for both Israel and Hamas to follow international law.

University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign Professor Cary Nelson, former president of the AAUP, told Insider Higher Ed that the AAUP needs to be “politically neutral” and “to treat Hamas as a traditional international interlocutor is just an absurdity.”

Education Dept. to Investigate Johns Hopkins University 

The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) announced on Feb. 13 that they are investigating Johns Hopkins University over two statements calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

One of the statements, which was signed by more than 120 faculty members at the university denounced “the horrific ongoing violence inflicted on the Palestinian people, and we urgently call for an end to the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip,” according to Jewish Telegraphic News Agency (JTA). The other statement, from the Teachers & Researchers United graduate student union, urged the university to call for a ceasefire and to release all documentation of the university’s support for the Israeli military. Zachary Marschall, the editor-in-chief of Campus Reform, filed the complaint to OCR, alleging that both statements have resulted in a “unsafe” environment for Jewish students on campus.

The university told JTA that they would cooperate with OCR on the matter and that the university “abhors anti-Semitism and discrimination of any kind.”

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