FROM: ALUMS FOR CAMPUS FAIRNESS AT UCLA
DATE: May 23, 2018 updated
TO: UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, UCPD, and Administrators
The University of California at Los Angeles Via Email
The SJP/BDS disruption of the May 17, 2018 meeting of Students Supporting Israel was intolerable, and those responsible deserve the strongest condemnation: the SJP and pro-BDS anti-Zionist students violated the First Amendment rights of the attendees, drowned out any attempts at response by using the “heckler’s veto,” ripped down a nation’s flag, tore papers belonging to a speaker, and doubtless frightened many, if not all, of the SSI students in the room.
This meeting hosted by SSI was approved by the administration in advance, and those in attendance deserved the oversight and protection due to a University-sanctioned group—regardless of politics, religion, and/or ideology. The event was titled “Indigenous People Unite” and was intended to give a platform to three indigenous communities to share stories of their people, by providing an overview of their history, struggles, and aspirations. Represented were the Jewish, Kurdish, and Armenian communities.
The time-code of the video footage of the event shows that at 42:06 minutes, a male student entered the room, with others, ripped the Armenian flag down from the blackboard behind the Armenian-American student who was speaking, and came around to the front of the panel’s table, loomed over him, and addressed the speaker in a loud, aggressive and threatening manner.
Keep watching the video, and you see that at 46:59, two campus officers entered the front of the classroom—where they simply stood and did and said nothing. The protestors paid no heed. Later, other officers arrived, through the back of the classroom, and finally began to ask students to leave.
That’s just shy of seven minutes from the start of the disturbance for campus police officers to take action. And when they did react, they clearly had no idea of what was happening on either side of the issues. Why haven’t campus officers been better trained to deal with such situations? It is not the first time on our campus that such incidents have arisen.
We are aware that persons with an interest and Administration’s ear had requested training regarding recognition and management of anti-Zionism. In view of what’s happening abroad, and, increasingly, here at home, shouldn’t these officers have a greater familiarity with the specificity of the issues triggered by such circumstances?
As alumni of UCLA, parents of UCLA students and alumni, Jewish Americans, and co-founders of the UCLA chapter of Alums for Campus Fairness, a large and quickly-growing chapter of more than 700 UCLA alumni members and part of the national organization interested in freedom of speech generally and activity on UCLA’s campus, we are deeply disheartened that our University allowed the SSI group and the associated students’; meeting to be disrupted and the students to be intimated.
We have been informed that the University has initiated an investigation of the occurrence, and received a short, general statement of disapproval on the Chancellor’s behalf through the communications office. But that is certainly not enough, nor is it compatible with, the level of need in this circumstance.
With that in mind, it is our recommendation that UCLA and your offices openly commit to do the following:
(1) Learn the names and group affiliations of the students (and others) who disrupted the meeting, the names of the organizers of the “protest,” and use the most stringent of University guidelines to condemn their actions or seek suspension/expulsion for those actions. Pursue all legal actions against non-students, and support student victims who should seek to charge such persons with illegal actions.
(2) Train campus police to respond immediately to victims’ defense. There was vandalism, public disruption, trespass, and harassing/threatening behavior plainly visible at the SSI meeting, and it should have met with intervention as soon as possible.
(3) Use the Daily Bruin to issue a public apology to SSI and the Jewish Community from the University and assure them that every student group and association affiliated with or supporting Israel will be kept safe, and that Administration will take any and all steps to carry out the Regents’ Statement of Principles Against Intolerance and protect such Israel supporters, i.e., Zionists.
The end goal in our view is to ‘decriminalize’ the victims and tell the University’s population that Jewish students, regardless of politics, are in fact “welcome” on campus, despite chants to the contrary by protestors. With UCLA’s Student Conduct Code under active revision, attendant with solicitation of comments, this may the perfect opportunity to include in the Code particular references to disruption, bullying, and destruction of others’ property, as well as relevant instruction regarding anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist hate speech.
You have remarked in the past that you support the Regents’ Statement, which defers to campus administrators to both implement the Principles and to discipline students who commit intolerant acts in violation of those principles.
And so, it is with this in mind that we respectfully ask what steps you and the University shall undertake in response and to avoid a recurrence in future—whether it involves a pro-Israel group, a pro-Jewish group, or any other organization under our school’s aegis. We ask that you respond at the earliest opportunity with something other than the standard response that has been sent out, and we ask that you particularly respond to items 1 through 3 above.
Please feel free to forward this email request to anyone whom you believe should be included in its consideration and response.
It is our deepest hope that what has been entrusted to your care and execution rests in good hands.
Alums for Campus Fairness at UCLA
Joyce Craig and Michele Gendelman