A number of rights groups, including chapters of the National Lawyers Guild, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace and the Council on American-Islamic Relations - California, sent a letter to University of California Board of Regents and California State University Trustees informing them of various concerted efforts by the AMCHA Initiative to stifle any and all discussion of Palestinian rights on California campuses.
The letter describes several instances in which AMCHA has urged university officials to cancel events, punish professors, academics and students for their speech activities. It also alerts university officials to the recent dismissal of several discrimination complaints filed by AMCHA and other groups, and the Department of Education's decisions, which emphasize that incidents complained of constituted protected speech activities, and that just because some may have been offended by such speech does not mean it amounts to discrimination or harassment under the Civil Rights Act.
Both UC President Janet Napolitano and CSU Chancellor Timothy White responded to the letter.
"Rather than barring controversial speech, the CSU strives to be a marketplace of ideas where difficult and sometimes polarizing speech can be exposed to critical examination and open debate by those with opposing opinions. While we recognize this process sometimes can be uncomfortable or even offensive, we also trust that those on all sides of this current debate understand that the consequences of inhibiting or silencing the free exchange of ideas on matters of public concern are far more severe."
"The University is indeed deeply committed to allowing, and encouraging, the robust exchange of viewpoints and ideas that are so fundamental to our mission, and our approach to this area of discourse on our campus is no exception. The First Amendment protects the rights of all community members to express their views, even if those views are highly offensive to others. In particular, this protection encompasses the full spectrum of views on issues relating to Israel and Palestine."
See full letter to UC and CSU officials here.
See full response from CSU Chancellor White here.
See full response from UC President Napolitano here.