590 UC Alumni Send Letter to UC President Decrying Anti-Israel Political Indoctrination in UC Classrooms on November 2, 2016
(From Press Release) -– Alums for Campus Fairness (ACF) sent a letter signed by 590 UC alums to University of California President Janet Napolitano, denouncing the misuse of UC classrooms for the political indoctrination of students against the Jewish state of Israel on November 2, 2016. ACF is a grassroots organization that mobilizes alumni to address anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism at their respective alma maters. The letter may be found here and below.
The letter focuses on two student-led courses at UC Berkeley and UC Riverside that offer “absurdly one-sided reading lists, and rosters of speakers who are uniformly anti-Israel.” It further points out that these courses “violate specific UC policy, including the Regents Policy 2301: Policy on Course Content,” which mandates that “the University remain aloof from politics and never function as an instrument for the advance of partisan interest” and describes how allowing classrooms “to be used for political indoctrination…constitutes misuse of the University as an institution.”
The alumni letter supports a November 1, 2016 letter sent to President Napolitano signed by 47 concerned organizations and 176 respected faculty members.
The alumni call on President Napolitano and the UC Regents to clarify how the Regents Policy on Course Content works in conjunction with UC’s policy on academic freedom. Their letter further calls upon the President and Regents to “charge each of the UC Chancellors with urging their respective academic senates to ensure that courses in all departments and programs are explicitly and carefully evaluated for their compliance with the Regents Policy on Course Content.”
Alums for Campus Fairness (ACF) mobilizes alumni to press their alma maters to provide a safe and welcoming environment for all students and faculty, including those who feel a connection to Israel. It also advocates for a comprehensive education, rather than activist propaganda, with respect to Middle East studies, including and especially with respect to Israel.
ACF is a national network of alumni chapters, founded in 2014 by fellow Vassar alums Mark Banschick, Laurie Josephs and Susan Julien Levitt. In partnership with StandWithUs, ACF has organized over 15 alumni chapters, including at Vassar College, Oberlin College, Columbia University, New York University, UCLA, UC Davis, UC Riverside and Brown University. ACF empowers alumni to address anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism at their alma maters, and promotes freedom of expression for all members of the campus community including pro-Israel students and faculty.
To learn more about ACF and our mission, become a member, or join/start a chapter, visit www.campusfairness.org
Dear President Napolitano,
We are 590 devoted University of California alumni who are deeply concerned about the misuse of UC classrooms by certain faculty and student instructors to indoctrinate students to their anti-Zionist agenda, and to wage a partisan campaign against the Jewish state of Israel. Over the past few years, various UC campuses have offered student-led courses with absurdly one-sided reading lists, and rosters of speakers who are uniformly anti-Israel. These include a course titled “Palestine: A Settler-Colonial Analysis” at UC Berkeley this academic year, and a virtually identical class titled “Palestine & Israel: Settler-Colonialism and Apartheid” at UC Riverside during the prior school year.
Such courses are obvious efforts to delegitimize Israel and advocate for the anti-Zionist cause that has taken root among many UC faculties. These exercises in propaganda sully UC’s proud history as an institution that provides the highest quality of education. Instead of encouraging and fostering critical thought, these classes simply proselytize for a partisan cause.
These courses also violate specific UC policy, including the Regents Policy 2301: Policy on Course Content. That Policy mandates that “the University remain aloof from politics and never function as an instrument for the advance of partisan interest.” It also provides that “[m]isuse of the classroom by, for example, allowing it to be used for political indoctrination, for purposes other than those for which the course was constituted, or for providing grades without commensurate and appropriate student achievement, constitutes misuse of the University as an institution.”
We question how courses that employ biased, one-sided reading lists and speakers on controversial and complex issues like the Israel-Palestinian conflict could have been approved given the Regents Policy on Course Content. It seems that certain faculty are failing in their supervisory responsibilities, likely because they share the anti-Zionist views of those student instructors and others who design these courses. Indeed, some UC departments are chaired by or include faculty members who have publicly endorsed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, and many of them are quite vitriolic in their hatred of Israel and disdain for its supporters.
The Board of Regents under your leadership has shown commendable concern for the welfare of Jewish students and other victims of bigotry, including by issuing its Principles Against Intolerance. However, the alarming increase in anti-Semitic incidents plaguing our alma maters is directly proportionate to the campaign being waged against Israel by certain faculty and students. While the extramural expression of anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic views may be protected by the First Amendment, faculty and students do not have the right to use the classroom to recruit for their anti-Zionist/anti-Semitic cause. And when they do so — as in the courses described above — they not only contravene UC Policy but they also undermine the University’s efforts to foster tolerance and understanding.
We understand that the review of course content implicates important issues of academic freedom. Nevertheless, UC has important and vital policies designed to ensure that faculty and student instructors do not abuse the great pedagogical responsibility with which they have been entrusted. Accordingly, we urge you and the Board of Regents to put an end to the misuse of the classroom by certain faculty and student instructors to indoctrinate their students into their chosen cause.
Toward that end, we add our support to the letter sent to you on November 1, 2016, signed by 47 concerned organizations and 176 respected faculty members, asking you to take the following steps:
1. Issue a statement that describes how the Regents Policy on Course Content works in conjunction with the UC Policy on Academic Freedom (APM 010) and that clarifies when the “advance of personal interest” and “political indoctrination” constitutes misuse of the classroom;” and
2. Charge each of the UC Chancellors with urging their respective academic senates to ensure that courses in all departments and programs are explicitly and carefully evaluated for their compliance with the Regents Policy on Course Content.
Thank you for your leadership, and for your commitment to rooting out bigotry on the UC campuses, and ensuring that the University of California system remains one of our nation’s finest institutions of higher learning.
Laurie R. Josephs
Susan Julien Levitt