WJC joins call on UC-Irvine to create comprehensive, campus-wide plan to protect free speech

The World Jewish Congress and dozens of other Jewish, Christian, education, and civil rights organizations, have commended the chancellor of the University of California – Irvine for taking disciplinary measures against a pro-Palestinian group for its disruption of a pro-Israel event in May,

The local chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine was on probation for two years, and its members are required to meet with the dean of students to discuss free speech issues and consult with a representative prior to hosting any campus event. 

The letter to chancellor Howard Gillman also suggests a series of recommendations to create a comprehensive plan to promote an atmosphere of tolerance and free speech on campus. The campaign is the invitiative of the AMCHA organization.

 

Dear Chancellor Gillman,

Our 54 Jewish, Christian, education and civil rights organizations, representing hundreds of thousands of supporters, commend you for taking disciplinary action to address the profoundly intolerant behavior of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) members that intentionally suppressed the freedom of speech, assembly and association of Jewish and pro-Israel students on your campus. 

While many of our organizations focus on protecting Jewish students from intolerant behavior that is anti-Semitic, we firmly believe that all students must be equally protected.  When adequate and equitable responses to all forms of intolerant behavior are applied, each and every student’s rights to freedom of expression and full participation in campus life are safeguarded and everyone benefits. 

We commend you and Professor Erwin Chemerinsky for the leadership and guidance you have been providing to other university leaders on this critical issue through your new book, Free Speech on Campus, and your recently published Wall Street Journal op-ed.  We could not agree more with your view about the importance of protecting the freedom of speech, assembly and association of all students, and, as you so eloquently and appropriately note in your op-ed, the importance of university leaders disseminating "a clear statement of free-speech values” to their respective campus communities.  

Along those lines, we urge you to use the important lessons from the May 10th disruption and your extensive expertise on this critical campus challenge to implement a comprehensive plan at UCI that will undoubtedly benefit your students, and can serve as a model for institutions of higher learning across our country.  

Some recommendations include:

  • Make public and disseminate widely in the campus community a formal statement containing the following:
    • Assurance that all students will be equally protected from intolerant behavior that violates their freedom of expression or their right to full participation in campus life, regardless of their beliefs or identity;
    • Explanations of the kinds of speech and expressive behavior that violate University policy and the law, and are liable to disciplinary action; and
    • Descriptions of all University policies, procedures and protocols that protect freedom of expression and prohibit intolerant behavior, along with a commitment to their equitable enforcement for all students, regardless of identity, opinion or legally protected status.
  • Establish educational and training programs that can: 
    • Help members of the campus community to be aware of all campus policies and procedures regarding intolerant behavior;
    • Teach and encourage the expression of a wide range of views in a productive and respectful manner; and 
    • Inculcate an understanding of and appreciation for the First Amendment and its critical role in supporting the academic mission of the university.

 

We believe that taking these steps will show the campus community, UC Irvine stakeholders, the general public and our concerned supporters the strength of your commitment to safeguarding the rights of all students – including Jewish and Zionist students -- to freedom of expression and full participation in campus life, and can serve as an important national model. 

Thank you for your leadership. 


Sincerely, 

 

The Undersigned 54 Groups:

 

Academic Council for Israel
Accuracy in Academia

Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity (AEPi)

Alums for Campus Fairness (ACF)
ACF – UC Davis
ACF – UCLA
ACF – UC Riverside
ACF – UC Santa Barbara
AMCHA Initiative

American Council of Trustees and Alumni
American Institute for Jewish Research
Americans for Peace and Tolerance
American Truth Project

BEAR: Bias Education, Advocacy & Resources
California Association of Scholars
Christians and Jews United for Israel
Club Z

Coalition for Jewish Values

Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA)

Davis Faculty for Israel
Eagles Wings
Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET)
Fuel For Truth

Hasbara Fellowships
Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel
Iranian American Jewish Federation
Iranian Jewish Women’s Organization

Israeli-American Coalition for Action
Israel Matters Committee Davis CA
Israel Peace Initiative (IPI)

Jerusalem U
Jewish Israel Cafe

Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA)
Middle East Forum
Middle East Political and Information Network (MEPIN)
National Conference on Jewish Affairs
National Council of Young Israel

NCSY
Proclaiming Justice to the Nations
Roc4Israel

Russian Jewish Community Foundation

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East

Simon Wiesenthal Center
StandWithUs
Stop BDS on Campus
Students and Parents Against Campus Anti-Semitism
Students Supporting Israel National
Students Supporting Israel at Columbia
Students Supporting Israel at UCLA
Students Supporting Israel at UC Irvine
The Israel Christian Nexus

The Israel Group

Training and Education About the Middle East (T.E.A.M.)

World Jewish Congress

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