Calif. Governor Calls for Crackdown on Anti-semitism at State Universities

The governor of California has asked the heads of two major state university systems to take action against anti-Semitic incidents on their campuses.

Gray Davis proposed a seven-point action plan in a letter to President Richard Atkinson of the nine-campus University of California system and Chancellor Charles Reed of the 23-campus California State University system.

In particular, Davis pointed to incidents at or near the University of California at Berkeley campus, including an attack on two Orthodox men, vandalism at the Hillel house, an illegal sit-in by pro-Palestinian demonstrators and a spate of anti-Semitic graffiti.

In addition, pro-Palestinian groups at San Francisco State University disrupted a pro-Israel observance with virulently anti-Semitic invective, posted blood libels and used their Web sites for Holocaust denial.

Davis’ specific requests included:

a thorough review of all anti-Semitic incidents on all campuses, and actions taken in response;

an assessment of planned steps to prevent future incidents;

a review of campus policies on demonstrations to ensure that free speech does not escalate into violence;

orientation sessions for new students that include warnings that hate crimes will be prosecuted;

the promotion of such values as civility, tolerance and understanding within the academic community; and

a review of course descriptions to ensure “that they are forums for intellectual inquiry and not vehicles for discrimination, intimidation and hate.”

Michael Reese, associate vice president for strategic communications for the University of California system, said Atkinson is troubled by a rise in hate crimes at universities across the country and was working diligently to eliminate such incidents at the University of California.

“President Atkinson is relying on the chancellors at each of the nine campuses to provide specific remedies, and he has asked them to respond to the governor’s specific points in a week or so,” Reese said.

Similarly, Clara Potes-Fellow, speaking for Reed, said he had asked the heads of each of the 23 California State University campuses to report within a week on concrete actions taken or planned to prevent anti-Semitic and other hate incidents.

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