The University of California, Irvine (UCI) acknowledged today that the UCI Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) violated Student Conduct Policies while protesting an Israel education program last spring. SJP was issued a warning advising that further violations could result in disciplinary action. The group is required to host an educational program during the 2017 fall quarter.
Hillel International President and CEO Eric Fingerhut and Orange County Hillel Executive Director/Rose Project Director Lisa Armony recognize the acknowledgement of SJP’s violation of student rights as a step in the right direction. But further action is needed to ensure Jewish students are protected and afforded the right to free speech and assembly, and to make clear that efforts to thwart those freedoms by groups or individuals will not be tolerated.
On May 18, twelve students and three Hillel staff members gathered on campus to watch and discuss the documentary film, “Beneath the Helmet.” A group of more than 50 students, organized and led by SJP, disrupted the event and physically intimated a Jewish student. After a three-month investigation, the university found that SJP violated campus policy prohibiting the “obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary procedures or other University activities.”
OC Hillel, Hillel International, and the Rose Project of Jewish Federation & Family Services worked with the university administration during two parallel investigations by the UCI Police Department and the Department of Student Affairs. During this time Hillel and the Rose Project have also been attending to student needs and working to ensure the safety of Jewish and pro-Israel student life.
We call on the university to ensure the educational program to be hosted by SJP is a sincere sanction that addresses the motivations behind their conduct violation, as well as anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism as articulated in the UC Regents’ March 2016 Statement of Principles against Intolerance. We also urge the university to implement programs that will more broadly educate the campus community about these principles.