Watchdog claims California university department’s anti-Israel activism likely violated school policy, state laws

(Daily Caller News Foundation) – University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) faculty may have violated school policies and state law after engaging in multiple anti-Israel events and protests over…

(Daily Caller News Foundation) – University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) faculty may have violated school policies and state law after engaging in multiple anti-Israel events and protests over the last several months, according to a report published Thursday by the AMCHA Initiative, a watchdog organization.

UCSC’s Department of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies (CRES) has a history going back to 2021 of anti-Israel rhetoric and behavior, which increased after Hamas launched a terror attack on the Jewish state on Oct. 7, according to the report. Multiple university policies, and even some state laws, prohibit using the classroom for “political indoctrination” or endorsing any “political…movement, activity or program,” according to the report, but AMCHA alleges that the department has ignored these rules to “undermine and ultimately dismantle the Jewish state.”

CRES released a statement on Oct. 11 that the attacks must be understood in context with “settler colonial displacement, military occupation, and enclosure.” On Oct. 24, the department organized and hosted a workshop for educators to help them facilitate “discussions in [the] classrooms” about the “genocide in Gaza.”

CRES’s website directed users to several letters that they could sign to encourage people and institutions to “boycott” the “apartheid regime” of Israel, according to the report. The links are no longer on the website.

The department advertised a Nov. 9 event put on by the Students for Justice in Palestine at UCSC chapter encouraging students to “skip school” and attend protests. CRES announced that the entire department would shut down the same day to stand in solidarity with the protest.

AMCHA argues that these, and other incidents perpetuated by CRES listed, in the report may violate the Regents Policy on Course Content, which bars the “Misuse of the classroom by … for political indoctrination.” The group says it may also violate the Academic Personnel Policy Faculty Code of Conduct, which prohibits “Failure to meet the responsibilities of instruction” and the “Intentional disruption of functions” of university activities.

In addition, Article IX, Section 9, of the California Constitution requires universities to be “entirely independent of all political or sectarian influence,” according to the text. The California Education Code Section 92000 bars any University of California campus from using its name to “support, endors[e], or advanc[e] … any strike, lockout, or boycott or of any political, religious, sociological, or economic movement, activity, or program.”

On Nov. 13, Lori Kletzer, UCSC’s provost and executive vice chancellor, reminded faculty in a statement that the university “imposes limits on using the classroom and courses of instruction for political advocacy” and warned against making students feel “intimidated, threatened, and/or excluded in their classes.” AMCHA argued that, despite this, the department created the Faculty for Justice in Palestine chapter to advocate for the “liberation of Palestinian land and people.”

As a result of these incidents, AMCHA called for the university to investigate the department to determine if, in fact, it violated any rules or laws, according to the report.

“Shockingly, these same professors who are using their university positions and resources to unabashedly promote anti-Zionism and antisemitism are the ones who our state has entrusted with developing what will be taught to every California student about Jews and Israel,” Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder and director of AMCHA Initiative and a former UC Santa Cruz faculty member, said in a press release.

UCSC and the Department of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.