Campus Watch May 15, 2024

A roundup of incidents, good and bad, happening on school campuses.
May 15, 2024

UCLA Back to Normal

UCLA has officially resumed normal campus operations after going remote as a result of the pro-Palestinian encampment and disruptions after the encampment was cleared.

According to City News Service, the university announced the return to normalcy on May 11, but cautioned that “any serious disruptions” could change the campus’s status. “Law enforcement and other security personnel continue to be on campus to help promote safety and actively monitor conditions,” the university’s announcement added.

On May 6, 44 protesters were arrested inside a UCLA parking lot; according to UCLA police, 42 were arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit a crime and two were arrested on charges of obstructing a peace officer. The police claimed that the protesters had tools like metal pipes, bolt cutters and super glue, as well as “Do It Yourself Occupation Guide” that encouraged “violence and vandalism.” Additionally, the university police claimed that 35 of the arrested protesters were students and nine were outsiders; four of the protesters had previously been arrested for refusing to disperse from the encampment when ordered to do so by police. Two of those were journalists; police claimed that they did not have press credentials but both were later released after police determined there was not enough evidence to issue a criminal complaint against them.

USC President Censured by Academic Senate Over Cancellation of Main Graduation Ceremony, Arresting Pro-Palestinian Protesters

USC President Carol Folt and Provost Andrew Guzman was censured by the university’s academic senate on May 8, as the academic senate expressed anger over the university’s decision to cancel the main commencement ceremony after the valedictorian came under fire for posting a link to her Instagram bio that allegedly spread antisemitism. The censure decision was also due to the university arresting 93 members of a pro-Palestinian encampment that was cleared out.

The censure vote was 21 in favor, seven against and six abstentions, The Los Angeles Times reported. The Times quoted USC School of Cinematic Arts Professor Howard Rodman as accusing Folt and Guzman of being “incapable of ethical leadership.” USC Chemistry Professor Anna Krylov contended to the Times that that Folt and Guzman shouldn’t be censured “for the things they did right such as removing the camp and calling the police.”

Berkeley School District Superintendent Denies Antisemitism is “Pervasive” in District Amidst Education Dept. Investigation

Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Enikia Ford Morthel denied that antisemitism is “pervasive” in the district in May 8 congressional testimony as the district is under investigation by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

Ford Morthel said in response to questioning from Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-CA) about specific incidents alleged in a complaint filed against the district that “we take action and follow up” whenever the district is made aware of an incident of alleged antisemitism, according to The Jewish News of Northern California (The J). Kiley also grilled Ford Morthel about the district’s partnership with the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Consortium, which features educators involved in drafting the first draft of the curriculum that was scrapped following criticism that it featured “an anti-Israel bias” and didn’t have “any serious discussion of antisemitism, per The J. Ford Mothel claimed that the consortium is “a thought partner” but that the district’s ethnic studies curriculum is developed “in house.”

Ilana Pearlman, who is a parent to a Jewish student in the district and attended the hearing, told The J that Ford Morthel “was the only person testifying that was unable to call out pervasive antisemitism… She basically thinks our students are lying.”

Pro-Palestinian Students Walkout of Jerry Seinfeld’s Commencement Speech at Duke

Around 30 students walked out of Jerry Seinfeld’s commencement at Duke University on May 12, chanting “Free Palestine” while some held Palestinian flags.

Seinfeld, who is Jewish, has been supportive of Israel in its ongoing war with Hamas and denounced antisemitism. He was there to receive an honorary doctorate from the university. There were 7,000 total attendees at the ceremony, per Axios.

More Than 500 Columbia Jewish Students Sign Letter: “We Will Not Stop Standing Up for Ourselves”

More than 500 Jewish students at Columbia University signed a May 8 letter declaring that they “will not standing up for ourselves” as they say that pro-Palestinian protesters have “dehumanized us” on campus.

The students contended that Zionism is an integral part of the Jewish identity and that campus protesters “have dehumanized us, imposing upon us the characterization of the ‘white colonizer.’ We have been told that we are ‘the oppressors of all brown people’ and that ‘the Holocaust wasn’t special.’ Students at Columbia have chanted ‘we don’t want no Zionists here,’ alongside ‘death to the Zionist State’ and to ‘go back to Poland,’ where our relatives lie in mass graves. This sick distortion illuminates the nature of antisemitism: In every generation, the Jewish People are blamed and scapegoated as responsible for the societal evil of the time.” The Jewish students added toward the end of the letter: “We will not stop standing up for ourselves. We are proud to be Jews, and we are proud to be Zionists.”

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