PSLS recommendations to CA Campus Climate Committee

Credit: Christopher Victorio

Credit: Christopher Victorio

PSLS, rights groups, submit recommendations to California Campus Climate Committee

The California State Assembly’s Select Committee on Campus Climate has held several hearings in 2014 in order to “gather information from administrators, students, staff, faculty and civil rights organizations relating to campus safety breaches, actions taken to correct them, and ways to improve procedures.”  The fourth and final public hearing will be held today, Wednesday August 6, 2014 in Sacramento, California. These hearings have been attended by groups such as the AMCHA Initiative, an organization that aims to suppress campus speech critical of Israel by pressuring universities to investigate, condemn and punish student and academic activities in support of Palestinian rights.  AMCHA has repeatedly claimed, at these hearings and in other forums, that student and faculty speech activities critical of Israel and supportive of Palestinian rights have created a hostile environment for Jewish students who support Israel.

To counter these false accusations, which have been rejected by courts and government agencies that have dismissed AMCHA and other groups’ legal complaints against universities, PSLS, CCR and and other civil rights groups have submitted recommendations to the Campus Climate Committee.  The recommendations focus on protecting the interests and rights of campus community members who advocate for Palestinian rights in light of efforts to undermine these rights.

The submission relates the intimidation that advocates of Palestinian rights have been subjected to on California campuses from off-campus Israel advocacy groups, stating that “California public university administrators have at times responded to pressure by restricting activities of campus groups that advocate for Palestinian rights and by subjecting student activities to enhanced scrutiny... Even where university administrators have not overtly censored pro-Palestinian speech, they have exacerbated the intimidating climate by issuing statements that stigmatize such speech without any effort to first verify facts or reach out to affected communities.”  It describes a “severe chilling effect” “inhibits students and faculty from expressing their passionately held opinions and deprives other students from hearing diverse points of view. It also denies students the ability to fully participate in and benefit from all educational opportunities in campus life.”

Among the recommendations submitted are that universities affirmatively protect the expression of all political views, as required by the First Amendment; that administrators protect “campus community members from politically motivated attacks by off-campus organizations”; and that clear guidelines are issued to the campus community about rights of free expression on campus.

See the recommendations HERE.

The hearing will take place in the State Capitol in Sacramento, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. in Room 437.  The hearing is open to the public.  Student activists, community members, and civil rights groups will be present to ensure that their concerns are heard.